Over my last two articles, I have discussed what I see as disturbing trends in…
Do You Know Your Customer’s Future Needs Before They Even Do?
What is it that your customers will want in the future? Who are your potential future customers? Is this something that you have even considered?
‘Customer foresight’ is the second dimension to creating a customer-centric culture. A culture to give you the edge on your competitors, your competitive advantage. Know your customers so well that you begin to know their future needs before they do.
Customer foresight case study:
Xennox Diamonds is a Brisbane based jewellery store that does things differently. Karl Schwantes, the Managing Director, is at the heart of Xennox Diamonds. With his team, he inspires and continually redefines what a jewellery store experience should be like.
I asked Karl what customer foresight meant to him in his business.
How do you and your team discuss the benefits and shortcomings of your current products and services for potential customers?
“We have daily huddles and weekly team collaborations where the team who are directly interacting with our clients are able to make suggested improvements to enhance our customer experience.”
Do you think and discuss beyond the current needs of customers? To what extent?
“As a company, we are always looking to innovate the client experience in ways that they didn’t even think were possible. From wireless charging stations to a fully immersive whisky bar, these features are designed to enhance the client’s experience beyond simply coming in to choose their future diamond engagement or wedding ring.”
How do you predict future customer needs?
“The engagement ring represents the start of our client’s journey. We understand that developing and nurturing this relationship is essential if we are to remain their guide through all of life’s precious moments. From weddings, anniversary’s and birthdays and even new additions to their family.”
Do you collaborate with customers to innovate and co-create?
“We offer an extremely collaborative experience with our clients. They can be as involved in the creation process as they wish. At any stage of a ring being crafted, our clients can visit and view the piece, even making alterations if needed. For our team, nothing is more important than ensuring our couples totally love their Xennox piece. We even send photos and videos of the creation process if visiting the store is not an option.”
Do you gather intelligence to identify potential customers and future needs?
“We have a number of partnerships with like-minded businesses who have clients travelling through similar journeys as our clients. Collaborating and sharing information allows us to gain foresight for future innovation. A great example resulting from having customer foresight through our partnerships is creating ‘wedding day diamonds’.”
Do you make sure you know your customer’s plans and strategies?
“The average timeframe from engagement to a wedding is 12- 18 months. Most couples will look to organise their wedding rings 6 to 8 months prior to their wedding. We continue to speak, watch and listen to our customers, competitors and worldwide media to ensure we are ahead of any changing trends though.”
To what extent are you aware of future events that will impact your customer’s needs?
“We are very aware of future events and have these diarised for action in our marketing calendar. The significant annual events such as Christmas, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day are planned for well ahead. Also, being aware of staying ahead of changing trends through gathering market intelligence.”
So how do you understand the future needs of your current and new customers?
“I ensure I stay up to date with current fashion trends, especially within the overseas market. To retain an agile team to ‘embrace change ahead of change’. Of course, always speaking with my customers and listening for different cues that they do not even know they are giving.”
Through adopting competitor insight, Xennox Diamonds are pre-empting emerging competitors and having the awareness to understand future competitive threats.
How can you adopt ‘customer foresight’ in your business?
Build competitor insight as a discipline within your business. Within a world of rapid change, where new competitors emerge and grow swiftly without warning, it’s not possible to pre-empt future impact unless you are aware of market movements and trends.
Inspire every team member to have the capability of an in-depth view of emerging competitors. Make ‘customer foresight’ simply, ‘something you do in your business’.
Read through the case study again and see how you would answer the questions. What you can do to implement change for ‘customer foresight’ within your culture?
The 6 customers’ rules.
Business success, especially in competitive industries, is dependent on having satisfied customers and the ability to keep them. To do this, we need to understand the 6 rules customers have:
- Understand my current needs (listening, sharing, co-creating).
- Show me you are authentic in solving my problems.
- Give me something of value.
- Keep me engaged with new things I value.
- Help me solve my problems.
- Show me what I will need in the future.
“What’s right for the customer, is right for your business.”
Please share with me your thoughts on ‘customer foresight’ or how you plan to embed this as part of your culture.
The Customer Culture Imperative, A leader’s guide to driving superior performance. Dr Linden Brown & Chris Brown, Chapter 2/page 41.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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