Thursday, October 20, 2011

Anticipating Customer Needs

How do companies like Apple create products and services that we want - even before we knew we wanted them? The answer to this is what will set you apart as different/better to your customers!

The truth is that customers don't always know what they want next. They rarely are able to say anything more than "better, faster, cheaper - now". Next is a mystery to them. But it doesn't have to be for you.

Let's break it down: Your customer knows what they like (not always what they want). You know your industry - especially the behind-the-scenes technical aspects. We can't expect our customers to be able to articulate anything other than some incremental improvement to what they already have. Bringing your customers' future desires to life is your job. Only you can build what they will want...if you can bridge the gap.

How do world-class companies do it? They work hard at being intimately knowledgeable and understanding of their customers - and combine that with their own technical expertise to project what future products/services can satisfy their deepest desires.

Uncover the why beneath your customers wants, and you'll have clues as to where to strategically leap. Once you've accomplished creating the next big thing, you merely have to engage them by compellingly communicating how the new product/service connects with that deeper want.

Anticipating customer needs isn't about focus groups or surveys or "expert opinions". You have a perspective that your customers will never have. It is all about truly understanding them and using your technical expertise to build their future - for their benefit. Because exceeding their expectations is a genuine priority for you. (When it is, you will always be rewarded.)

Think about it. But more importantly, do something about!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Breaking The Comfort Cycle

Want to make a dramatic improvement in your life? Here's a great place to start: Breaking the human nature cycle we all encounter that goes something like this...

1. You realize you're uncomfortable with some experience (public speaking, new technology, etc.) so you convince yourself that you'll never be any good at it.
2. You avoid doing that thing you're uncomfortable with (because it's painful.)
3. A situation arises where you can't avoid doing it (that's just the way it is.)
4. You don't prepare sufficiently (because you avoid the painful discomfort as much as possible).
5. You have another bad experience (the natural consequences of not practicing/preparing enough).
6. You convince yourself that you'll never be any good at it and swear that you'll never do it again (which is not true - if you practiced, you would be better.)
7. Repeat.

Avoiding something that is part of professional (and/or personal) life is foolish. An unavoidable situation will arise eventually - and it will continue to be painful until you learn from it and break through the discomfort.

Accepting these uncomfortable trials with courage and discipline will break the vicious cycle. Not only will it get "less uncomfortable" (not everything in life eventually gets comfortable), but you'll benefit from getting better at the experience.

Discipline and hard work on things that are uncomfortable aren't very sexy, but it is the only way to gut through these situations. A little extra effort can earn you that breakthrough you've been wanting.

Think about it. But more importantly, do something about!