How to Use the Ideal Technique to Understand your Customers


Customers have always traded product or service features against the price they are prepared to pay. They also look for how well your business processes provide customer satisfaction and the relationships they build with the people that they meet from your organisation. To build long-term customer loyalty you need to under­stand their buying criteria – what questions will they use to compare you with your competitors? To understand this thoroughly you have to talk to as many customers or potential customers as you can. What are they looking for? How do they make their decisions to buy?

Now you need to assess what your customers would say was their view of the ideal offering in each of the following four areas – product, process, people and price. Again you can ask them for their opinion of what would be best for them, either in a meeting or a telephone call, or by inviting them to join part of a planning session. The points they make are their buying criteria and will fit into one of the four factors mentioned above. Customers will tell you what ideally they want from you if you ask the right questions. You may not be able to achieve the ideal the customer is searching for, but if you know what it is you should come close.

Not all the criteria will have the same importance to a customer, so the final step in this technique is to put a priority against each criterion. When you have finished defining the buying criteria and the customer’s ideal, think about their rela­tive importance on a scale of 1-10. You do not want, when it comes to making decisions about what your offering is going to be, to work hard on issues which the customer thinks less significant, if it means putting less effort into issues which they believe to be vital. These priorities will therefore have an impact on product, proc­ess, people and price decisions later in the planning process. Chart the result of this work on a matrix.

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About the Author: Marie Mayle is a contributor to the MegaHowTo team, writer, and entrepreneur based in California USA. She holds a degree in Business Administration. She loves to write about business and finance issues and how to tackle them.

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