Roy's Blog

July 18, 2009

BE DiFFERENT #marketing practice: institutionalize customer learning

Organizations are familiar with Market Research (MR); it is THE most common practice of finding out what customers want or need. It is typically performed by an external firm, it is done periodically and it looks at a thin slice of who the customer is and what they want or what their attitudes are.

The thing is, if everyone uses it how can it expose marketing opportunities; how can it create differences for you in the crowded marketplace?

It can’t. To stand-out you need to clearly understand the requirements of the smallest customer group possible and be aware of how their wants and desires change as time marches on.

Customer learning is a process of continuous learning about WHO you choose to SERVE.

The perspective is to look at the customer holistically. What is the person (not the product) all about? What life interests do they have? How do they change over time? This applies equally to businesses as consumers; learning for the former seeks to understand cash flow issues, inventory challenges and the like.

Customer learning is a liberating notion that demands the marketer take as broad a view of the customer as possible; myopia will not make you DiFFERENT.

And, it is performed by employees not 3rd party contractors. Any competency that confers strategic advantage to an organization should not be outsourced. Keep it inside and be brilliant at it.

What are the sources of learning?

Organizations are rich with learning opportunties. How about customer complaints? Dealing with complaining customers may not rank #1 on the rewarding experience scale, but they can, if listened to closely, produce rich information on your organization that can be used to outpace your competition.

Use your imagination here. Any customer touch point can yield productive learning if you consider it as a strategic learning opportunity rather than just another customer contact. The real issue is whether or not you engineer the contact to produce the maximum amount of learning.

If you don’t add customer learning to your customer research arsenal you’ll never BE DiFFERENT.

Cheers,
Roy
Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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