1. Work out what products/ services your customers REALLY want
The short and simple way to do this is to just ask them, and be open-minded about their responses. No one knows what the clients want better than the clients themselves, yet too many businesses neglect this handy source of essential information.
Before launching your company you should have engaged in some degree of what’s called ‘customer discovery’ — where you identify your potential customer base and establish what their problems are, and how you can help solve them.
First, identify your clients. You may be focused on attracting new clients; however, your existing ones have already chosen you so they’re ideally positioned to explain what’s so attractive about your business – and what they’d like you to offer.
Who’s your audience?
Find out more about your existing customer base, who they are and why they’re buying your products and services. If they’re individuals, what are their occupations or interests? If they’re businesses, what kind of businesses are they, and what use do they have for your products? If you understand this basic-level information, you’ll be better able to understand what benefits your company provides, and market yourself better to potential customers.
What do they buy?
Also find out how frequently they buy, what purchase method they prefer, and what their budget is. At a deeper level, you should try to find out what makes them feel good about purchasing from you and what their expectations are. For example, you may be surprised to discover that your product price and quality are less important to clients than reliability and speed of your delivery.
What do they think of your business?
Ask what your clients think of your business. What little annoyances could you fix, and what small improvements would make a big difference to their satisfaction? Also, what do they think of your competitors? It’s important to know not just what your clients want from you, but what’s discouraged them from taking their business elsewhere.
Post-sale surveys offer a great chance to gather this information, when your clients’ thoughts and reasoning will still be fresh and they’re most likely to be happy, willing and able to answer your questions clearly. Once you know the views of your client base, you can then extrapolate this information to your target audience and use it to win new clients.
If you’re just starting out and you’ve not already got a big client base to survey, there are other steps you can take. Carry out a thorough competitor analysis to find out what your rivals are offering. This will help you to gauge what your future clients will want, and to work out how to attract them. Commission or carry out some market research in your field to help to identify latent client desires and gaps in the market. Alternatively approach people that you expect to be in your target audience, see what they need, and provide a product/service to solve that problem.
Finally, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you need to find the answers to these questions only once. What was important to clients ten, five or even two years ago might no longer be important to them today. This can be the result of changes in technology, culture or the innovation of your competitors. It’s vital for your business to keep up to date with the requirements of clients, and to continue to offer them a good reason to choose your business and to stick around.
Great companies are really built on great products
2. Improve the quality of your current offering
so you've asked your clients why these come to you and what they'd like you to offer. This feedback is key to making improvements to quality, but you should also take a look at your competitors. What are they offering and is it more successful? What mistakes have they made with their products or services, and how can you avoid the same pitfalls?
3. Improve the way you deliver your products/ services
There are two main approaches to improving the delivery of your products or services:
- First, you can add value by introducing new features or improvements that customers will appreciate and value. This could include things like online ordering, faster home delivery or digital versions of publications. Survey your customers to find out what improvements they’d like to see.
- The second approach is to use innovation to make your existing delivery methods more efficient in order to reduce your costs. This could include some kind of automation or outsourcing of part of the delivery process, for example. This improved efficiency will let you choose whether to increase your profit margin or pass on the savings to your customers.