Business organisations struggle to win market competition by setting strategies, making innovations, especially introducing customer-centric goods and services. In simple definition, market competition means more suppliers and different products that really attempt to satisfy customer expectations in the best possible way and want customers to buy their products more frequently at higher prices.
However, this does not come about smoothly and spontaneously. That’s why the market competition seems to be serious and critical for the business survival. Companies are compelled to face this competition in a more innovative way, if they want to survive and then grow in the market. The best way to do so, is reading the pulse of customers. It is they who supply your revenue. Hence, all business strategies should result in pleasing the customer. As competition has multiplied customer’s choices, strategies have to be plotted, after careful study of consumer behaviour. Let’s have a close look at how to read the pulse of customers.
Understanding customers better
Understanding customer is so complicated, not an easy task. That’s why it has become everyone’s job. For an instance, the traditional way to get an idea about customers is doing a market research, which describes how the selected group of customers think of the particular product as well as what kind of expectations that they have. Based on the data collected from market research, business leaders take some decisions to make products more customer-oriented, so that they are able to acquire bigger market share.
In other words, they take decisions grounded on the data collected from a group of customers but not from whole customer community. Hence, it can be clearly stated that the probability of taking wrong decisions on consumer expectations is higher. Even big companies have disappeared in the market due to their inability to understand customer needs.
Customers want quality products at cheaper prices. Competitive priorities that a business organisation ought to follow are cost leadership and diversification. Some customers are more concerned on quality than price, while others are by nature price-sensitive. Consequently, it is up to the strategy makers to grasp the nature of customers that they have. Market segmentation gives a clear idea of what kind of strategies that organisations have to follow.
Trust is a decisive factor in the business world. Building trust is easier than maintaining it. What is more important is to know that it takes little time to destroy the trust been built over decades. Customers spend their hard-earned money on your products, it is because of the trust that your product will give them a maximum satisfaction in comparison to other products offered by the competitors in the market. Once their expectations placed on the product does not match with qualities, they begin to refrain from buying the product and tell others on it, projecting a bad image on your company.
Hence, a customer dissatisfied with the company will result in 100s of customers. Companies know far more about their customers by analysing all the data they collect on them. In turn, customers know far more about the companies they buy from through social media - their family, friends and work colleagues talking about companies and their products every day. It can be said that building and protecting the trust is not a single directed, but a wide-spread process.
There are different ways in which customer trust can be improved. Even though businesses are commercial institutions, they have gone beyond profit-making purposes by allocating resources for corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects which communicate customers that the company cares about the society and people. Furthermore, this is a company upon which customers can place their trust.
This is also a process that ought to be strengthened by every professional of every department of the organisation. Marketing professionals can work with the IT department to create online customer relationships. HR professionals can work with finance department to get resources allocated for employee training, so that highly trained and qualified professionals will be able to satisfy customer needs. This is the collaboration to build the trust.
The way forward
It is obvious that the real intention of the customer is to get the maximum satisfaction by purchasing quality products. If marginal utility is higher than others’, customers continue to buy the particular product. Some companies have come forward to advice their customers how to select a qualitative product. It is easy to see banks advising the ways in which money can be saved, companies advising on qualities in customer perspective. It seems that companies use different approaches to reach the customer. Customer-oriented strategies will always deliver best results. Hence, it can be said that strong customer relationships can ensure business survival and growth.
(Amila Muthukutti holds a BA in Economics from the University of Colombo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)