26 Oct 17 Have you found your eureka moment?

Got milk? This is the iconic caption of the sales pitch developed by the California Milk Processor Board, which after trying to sell milk directly with not very positive results, tweaked the approach and identified various situations where consumers needed milk – like when chewing a particularly gooey peanut butter sandwich which you needed to wash down with a glass of cold milk and discovered that you didn’t have any. This worked wonders and the sales of milk dramatically shot up.

Source: Adweek

So what was the change in approach? Rather than selling the product by listing the goodness of milk, they identified customer needs through focus groups and developed a strategy targeting those needs.

Moral of the story – The success of any business lies in understanding the customer psyche, needs and expectations. In this increasingly competitive and noisy world it’s even more imperative to understand that need which is not overtly visible but plays a role in the customer’s decision-making process and decides the fate of your product or service. This is equally relevant in both B2C as well as B2B scenarios.

Companies today are aware of the importance of customer feedback and try to understand customer needs through various methods – intelligence from on-the-ground sales team feedback, distribution channels, formal and informal meetings with customers, etc.

However is this enough to know your customers?
1. Are you getting all the information that you need to address customer needs?
2. Are you going deeper into the mind of the customer and getting that pitch that can change the future of your product?
3. Are you reaching out to all touchpoints at the customer end to understand comprehensively what the customer needs are?

This is where third party unbiased research can help you identify your customers’ unmet needs
One client came to us with a unique problem. They found that in all the surveys and research they conducted internally, their potential customers loved their products. However when it came to actually buying, the results were not in proportion to the number that said they loved the products. So where was the gap? We conducted a detailed ‘Voice of Customer’ survey – which tapped into users, influencers and decision-makers across the customer segments – and discovered that the customers who were not converting were the smaller companies who found the client’s products very expensive and could not lock up so much capital. However, they were very open to the idea of leasing or taking the products on a company-extended credit scheme. Here was an opportunity for the client to repackage its offering and penetrate an untapped segment!

This is a case of a simple need that unbiased third-party researchers were able to identify… a need ignored by sales teams who were bogged down by day-to-day activities of managing their business.

One other example that comes to mind is of a customer survey we did for a large industrial boilers manufacturer. We found that the biggest problem their customers faced was the downtime on the manufacturing floor from the time the machine broke down to the arrival of the service team. There was an unmet opportunity for a maintenance service or a back-up service that could help mitigate this problem!

In our decades of experience doing research, I can think of several such examples where seemingly simple problems would have gone unnoticed and resulted in lost opportunities for companies had they not conducted research. Engaging with third-party professional researchers not only makes the customer tracking process more formal, objective-driven and proactive, but also results in better customer engagement and retention. This is an investment that will definitely reap rewards in the long run!

Manju Karajgikar

I’ve been with ValueNotes for over a decade – now, as a senior research solutions consultant; and prior to that, as part of the research team. My forte is understanding clients’ business problems, studying their industries, and finally designing the most suitable solution for their research need (within their budget!)

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