“There is only one valid definition of a business purpose: to create a customer.” — Peter Drucker
Too many individuals and businesses lose sight of the customers they serve.
They get internally focused.
They don’t’ take an outside-in view.
And, most importantly, they lose empathy for the pains, needs, and desired outcomes of their customers.
If you want to develop an advantage you can use in business and to advance your career, Customer Intelligence is it.
Customer Intelligence is the ability to rethink and redefine how you attract and maintain your ideal customer.
Customer Intelligence is one of the four intelligences that Valeh Nazemoff identifies in her book, The Four Intelligences of the Business Mind.
Develop a Clear Image of Your Ideal Customer
To take the first step toward building your Customer Intelligence, you need develop and communicate a clear understanding of your ideal customer.
“The first step in Customer Intelligence is to develop a clear image–for your self and your organization– as to who your customers are. The first question to ask yourself is ‘Who is your ideal customer?’
Ask Questions to Reveal Your Ideal Customer
Nazemoff suggests asking questions to improve your Customer Intelligence. You can ask questions about your ideal customer so that you can put together a composite visual image of who exactly your customer really is.
How old are they?
What are their hobbies?
What’s their favorite TV show/movie?
What industries are they in?
What departments do they fall under?
What are their job functions and responsibilities?
Are they members of trade associations? Which ones?
What is their education level?
Who are they partnered with professionally?
What trade or industry magazines do they read?
What general interest magazines, blogs, and web sites do they read?
What are their favorite products?
What types of services do they believe in?
Whom do they follow or admire on social networks like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook?
What charities do they support?
Tune In, Focus, and Clarify Your Customer
While it might seem like a lot of work or a waste of time, you’ll actually gain new insights as you improve your quality. It’s all part of building your Customer Intelligence.
“It is important to go through this exercise. Before developing these questions, I believed the whole process was rather tedious and a waste of my time. Contrary to my initial thought, I find that it helps me tune in, focus, and bring clarity about who I am serving, and how to market to them.”
Example of Using Customer Intelligence
Personas are a way to bring your customers to life, by giving them a name and a rich story of “a day in the life.” By creating personas for your customers, you improve your Customer Intelligence because you get very specific about your customer’s pains, needs, and desired outcomes.
You create empathy.
“Janet Wood, Executive Vice President of Talent and Leadership at SAP, created a version of her ideal customer and found it extremely valuable. She did this through a workshop offered by Design Thinking from the Design School at Stanford University. She says, ‘The one that I was in, a two-day workshop, really focused on attracting and developing talent in SAP. It really changed the game and what we’ve been trying to do…Our customers were really our employees and potential employees. You create personas… You literally go to the point of saying ‘Okay, this persona, her name is Susan, she lives in San Francisco and she just graduated with a BS degree in computer science. She’s got a boyfriend. She’s working as a waitress during the summer, and she is trying to decide on x.’ You go on to create this whole ideal construct.”
Put Yourself n the Mindset of the Ideal Customer
Practice increasing your Customer Intelligence by stepping into your customer’s shoes.
When you can put yourself in the shoes of your ideal customer, you can find ways to be more relevant. By really having empathy, by really knowing your customer’s pains, needs, and desired outcomes, you can directly address them.
You can get creative with ways to serve your customer and help them achieve their wants, needs, and desires.
“Wood’s goal was to figure out how SAP could be the most attractive to their ideal candidate’s–the best new graduates in the job market. The trick was, just as it is in Customer Intelligence, to put herself in the mindset of her ideal customer.”
Break Free from Being Too Internally Focused
Practice building your Customer Intelligence by taking an outside-in view, and really walking the customer experience journey.
This will help you break away from being too internally focused and it will help you build better empathy for your customer. This will help you shape your story and approach to be more relevant in surprising ways.
“SAP found this exercise so useful that they began to do it with their customers, to help them figure out how to maximize their opportunities with the people they are either currently selling to or the people they want to sell to. ‘It really gets them thinking about their products and their services and the customer experience in a way that they may not have before, because all of us, even our customers, can get very internally focused,’ she says.”
Do you know who your customers really are?
Do you really know who you serve and how well can you articulate their pains, needs, and desired outcomes?
Increasing your Customer Intelligence, becoming a customer advocate, and sharing the Voice of the Customer will serve you well throughout your career.
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