Corporations previously dished out advertising and products and customers were expected to passively receive the messages and then love the products. However, times have changed. Customers no longer want to passively sit on their couch and be told what to do. Customers realize they have a voice and they want to use it. So, companies do market research and crunch some numbers. And, ah-ha, they realize that customer’s do not want black model-Ts anymore.
Companies think they understand their customers; they begin to offer brown and blue Model-Ts. They do their best to appeal to their ‘secondary market.’ Some companies even have the resources to reach their tertiary market. Customers should appreciate their effort to speak to them, right? Wrong. Customers are smarter than you think – they are smarter than we think. The company’s efforts to get connected to their ‘markets’ are viewed as hypocrisy. Each customer responds to the company’s efforts with a unanimous, “You don’t know me.” Customers are not a market or even a target demographic. Customers are real people and they don’t want a model-T, no matter what color it is.
Jane wants a green SUV. Fred wants a blue compact. Jake wants a white truck. Sue wants a pink jeep. They have wants. They have needs. How is the company supposed to know what Jane wants versus what Sue wants? Simple. Listen. They want to tell everyone. Customers are accustomed to communicating their wants in real time – all the time; blogs, texts, DVR, Satellite radio, social sites, emails, and even online games. We are all constantly communicating. But, is anyone listening?
Let the customers choose how they want communicate. Give them options. More than options; give them a way to communicate back to you quickly. Technology allows almost instant communication from the company to a consumer. Likewise, the company should allow for the customer to reciprocate that communication. Just like in marriage counseling 101; it’s not really communication unless both parties are speaking and listening.
So, be creative. With every communication going out from your company, ask yourself, “What communication do I want back from my customer (or prospect) and how do I want them to give it?” If you don’t get feedback, maybe you’re not asking the right question or giving the right feedback channel. Remember, they may not want a model-T at all.