July 18, 2009
Organizations are familiar with Market Research (MR); it is THE most common practice of finding out what customers want or need. MR is typically done 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. Customerization requires that you clearly understand the requirements of the smallest customer group possible and that you be aware of their changes as time marches on.
Customer Learning is a process of continuous learning about WHO you choose to SERVE. The CL 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; CL for the former seeks to understand cash flow issues, inventory challenges and the like.
CL is a liberating marketing notion that demands the marketer take as broad a view of the customer as possible; myopia will not make you DiFFERENT.
And, it is done 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.
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.
Check out Section Three of my book for more. In a nutshell, if you don’t add Customer Learning to your customer research arsenal you’ll never BE DiFFERENT.
Cheers, Roy Osing