Our previous post covered the “bad news”, that customers don’t care about your product(s).  In this “good news” post, we’ll examine a method to determine what customers care about and translate it into winning and growth.

Recall the example.  The customer who purchases a ¼-inch drill bit doesn’t really want the drill bit.  What they want is a ¼-inch hole. 

We must focus on customers’ goals, or what they are trying to accomplish so apply the example to your business by filling in the blanks below. 

The customer doesn’t really want             (insert your product name here)                               .  What they want is to address                     (insert customer problem here)                 .

When working with companies, if I perceive that they have forgotten the difference between “what they do” and “why it matters [to customers]”, I suggest they follow the Voice of the Customer (VOC) Cycle (see below).

  1. Listen – If we don’t listen, we can’t learn.  While this seems straight-forward, many under-performing companies spend more time in “transmit” mode than “receive” while others blatantly ignore their customers.  It starts with listening.   
  2. Learn – If we don’t learn, we could conceivably care, but that caring might be misplaced.  Think of Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s 5th habit: “seek first to understand, then to be understood.”  Try using the “5 Whys” method to truly learn about your customers’ challenges and goals.
  3. Care – If we don’t care, we won’t act.  To use our earlier example, if our customer wants a ¼-inch hole and all we sell is a 1-inch drill bit we won’t help the customer and we won’t make the sale.  If losing the sale is “no big deal” then nothing will change.
  4. Act – If we don’t act on what we learn, how can we be expected to win?  Caring alone is not enough.  Companies must translate their active listening and business insights into change.  The real power comes through action.  Taking our example a step further, think about the company that sells 1-inch drill bits.  By introducing a new product (the ¼-inch bit), they can satisfy a new set of customer objectives.
  5. Win – It takes more to win than following the VOC cycle.  But failing to follow the cycle is a sure way to lose.  Start by truly listening to your customers and follow the cycle to start winning.

The “bad news” is that customers don’t care about our products or solutions – they shouldn’t need to.  The “good news” is also the pivot point – when we do our jobs well, our genuine interest and caring in their business challenges will lead us to create solutions that address their needs.  By using a structured VOC program, your company can transform itself from caring to winning.

Good News – Caring Companies Win
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