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Customer Insights Made Easy

Uncovering things you might not know about your business.

Market research, and more importantly, customer insights are extremely helpful in understanding what your business does well and not so well, comparatively in the market. Whether you’re a café owner looking for other avenues for income or a construction company looking to find out why customers are choosing the bloke across the road, getting to know your customers and their motivations can be an integral part of uncovering why your customers like what they like, or do what they do. At the end of the day, the customers are what define a business!

Let’s take a step back and think about it for a second. Customers are just like you and me, a fellow homo sapien. Now, you and I like certain things, do things a certain way, crave particular food items now and then and so on. Now picture your typical customer (profile) and imagine what it would be like to buy from your own business, for example:

  • Was it done quickly?
  • Did I spend too much money for what I was getting?
  • Was the quality of the product/service any good?
  • Was the service up to scratch?
  • Did I offer enough (or too much) choice?

These are some of things that customers (also both you and I) objectively and subjectively use to judge whether or not we buy again from a business.

But wait, that’s too hard.

Honestly, it really can be daunting for a small business owner and it’s why we have devised a little cheat sheet on how you can get started without the hassle of not knowing what to do in the first place!

We firmly believe that you don’t need complicated statistical software and algorithms to get started, on, what is traditionally, a very academic field of work, market research. Just sit down and use this example guideline to start on your journey of self-discovery.

Matching expectations with reality.

When starting for the first time, we encourage businesses to brainstorm what are the key criteria that your business’ life depends on. These are the things, when done collectively poorly, ruin a business and likewise, when done collectively well, flourish. All businesses usually sit within this spectrum.

Here, we limit it to five criteria, so that there isn’t an overwhelming list our brains can’t handle. It also keeps our minds focused on what matters the most.

For example, the five criteria we can look at are:

  • On-time delivery
  • Value for money
  • Quality of products and/or services
  • Customer service
  • Range of products and/or services

While it’s not an exhaustive list, depending on the business, some criteria may be different. Say you’re a hairdresser and “on-time delivery” doesn’t apply, something else may be more relevant.

 

PRO TIP
Try and choose criteria that encompasses the entire business as a single unit to start, then you can branch off into examining other arms of the business once you’ve wrapped your head around the bigger picture.

 

Part 1 | Mapping customers’ expectations

Once you’re done thinking about what areas of the business are important to its survival, now is the time to ask your existing customers to rank them 1-5 by importance to them when dealing with you, where 5 is most important and 1 is least important.

Here, we’re looking to find out what your customers expect of you and determining what matters the most to them. For example, maybe a customer values your quality products (gave a score 5) but price isn’t what matters when buying from you (gave a score 2). There are countless insights you can gain from simply asking customers to rank the importance they place on certain aspects of your business.

Part 2 | A reality check

Using the same criteria you’ve decided on, ask follow-up questions on how you ACTUALLY perform in each of those areas. Customers will rate your performance on a scale 1-5, where 1 is poor, 3 is average and 5 is excellent.

This will give you a more definitive health check on your business and find out where customers are and aren’t satisfied with your business.

 

PRO TIP
Use what you’re good at (competitive advantage) to boost your existing sales and marketing efforts. If your customers use more than one supplier for the same product/service, chances are they are thinking about how you weigh up against the competition!

 

Part 3 | Recommendations anyone, please?

As the icing on the cake, one could say, is the Net Promoter Score® (NPS®). This is a simple yet effective metric you can use to see if customers will refer any business to the friends and colleagues (more business, YES!). There is formula on how to do it (you can Google it for those wondering) but we won’t get into that here (that’s for another post).

Putting all the pieces together

Now you can really see how you’re doing with your customers. Work out how each of your criteria stacked up against the other criteria and map that against how you’re really doing with customers in reality. This should help identify areas of improvement at a glance as well as understanding how your customers’ expectations (Part 1: what’s important to them) are met with their current dealings with you (Part 2: your performance, Part 3: NPS®).

 

PRO TIP
Use this tool as an early warning system to flag down any potential problem areas before there’s irreparable damage: your customers go elsewhere!

 

So, what now?

“So, what now?” I hear you think. We’ve got you covered.

Here are a few extra tips and tricks to make this process much more valuable to you:

  • Use the above criteria to get you started, chop and change if you feel it doesn’t apply to your business
  • You don’t need a large sample size, 10-15 is usually enough to get an idea of how you’re tracking
  • Preferably, talk to customers you have recently done business with, the more recent the better
  • Keep the survey to the three questions and aim for no more than two minutes of someone’s time
  • If you find, as the owner, you don’t have the time to do so, have someone else who is close to the client and is familiar with your business to do it
  • After each round of surveys, brainstorm ideas together with your team and try and set recommendations for yourself
  • Make the necessary changes in your business
  • Rinse and repeat, preferably on a monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly, etc. basis

Be objective, be gracious.

Let’s be real here, don’t let the ego get in the way. It’s what stops us from growing and understanding ourselves personally and professionally. Customers don’t like certain aspects of your business? Embrace it. Change it. Reach out with open arms and customers are more than likely to give you constructive feedback to improve on.

When you sit down with your customers, just have a whole hearted and HONEST conversation about the current state of affairs. You are empowering them to help you provide a better product or service.

Stay objectively connected with the business and start a process of continuous improvement. It’s a long-term investment (emotionally and financially) that pays off in the end. Happy customers, happy business (isn’t that how the saying goes?).

PS. Now that you’ve made it this far, we’ve actually got the checklist for you here. Go get started and start making your customers’ voices heard!

 

Aged Care – A Critical Analysis

We have seen an exponential increase in the number of elderly in proportion to the total population over the past decades. However, people aged 65 and over are not as healthy in old age as projected considering our prosperity, according to recent findings of an international study done by BDO in cooperation with the OECD.

Additionally, elderly and healthcare costs are continuously increasing especially due to an international increase in comorbidity (two or more illnesses are present in the same person simultaneously) among those aged 65 and over, placing a heavy social and economic burden on future generations.

Average medical expenses for a person aged 85 and over amount to over AUD$79,200 per year (BDO); an alarming amount considering that this group is expected to exceed 25% by 2050 worldwide.

Furthermore, due to high educational requirements, the demand for health care professionals far outstrips the supply. What’s more is, many lower-skilled health care professionals were made redundant in the last years, due to unnecessarily high requirements.

Analysing national differences in their approach to aged care revealed extraordinary insights in BDO’s recent international study.

Even though all examined countries were faced with tremendous demographic challenges, the study found that not only differences in health care models and funding seemed to impact the health of the elderly, but lifestyle and habits too. In Norway, for example, people are healthier for a significantly longer period of time due to an outdoor lifestyle, a ‘culture of caring’, with families taking care of each other and the elderly taking an active and meaningful part in society

Furthermore, smokers made up only 4% of the population, whereas in Germany, where elderly (on average) only have 8 healthy years over 65, 20% of the population smoked.

A different approach to evaluating return on investment (ROI) in the Netherlands is showing positive results. The country seeks to shift their focus away from the disabilities of patients and further towards their abilities.

BDO concluded that current healthcare systems focus on curing the sick rather than preventing sickness and does not deal with the root of the problem.

To achieve a more affordable, more effective and sustainable aged care system we need to:

  1. focus on innovation, prevention and rehabilitation;
  2. target funding to boost innovation;
  3. lower educational barriers for health care professionals;
  4. develop technical innovations;
  5. encourage and support big-scale lifestyle changes;
  6. invest in methods, solutions and processes that ensure people age differently;
  7. seeking greater dialogue with the elderly to identify areas of improvement;
  8. evaluate ROI;
  9. acknowledge lack of difference between private and public healthcare systems; and
  10. give the elderly a place and purpose in our society.

Source: https://www.bdo.com.au/en-au/insights/healthcare/publications/new-perspectives-on-elderly-care

Market Research + Consumer Trends

Global and national markets are ever changing and in order to grow or maintain market share, businesses must identify business trends and changes in customer behaviour before they disrupt profits. Market research should be an essential and ongoing part of business operations, not just during periods of crisis management.

In 2018 the following forces are shaping and changing consumer behaviour:

ADAPTIVE ENTREPRENEURS

According to a global study by Euromonitor in 2017, 50% of respondents across all generations were aspiring to self-employment. This is indicative of an enormous shift away from traditional full-time jobs and towards more self-directed and flexible lifestyles. This development towards risk taking “Adaptive Entrepreneurs”, fuelled by stagnant wages, high youth unemployment rates and a change in personal values are causing delays in larger life goals, such as property purchases or children. The inspiring success stories of tech industry founders and the convenience of crowdfunding platforms are disrupting the economy, as “Adaptive Entrepreneurs” are no longer responding to traditional advertising strategies or job offers.

CALL OUT CULTURE

Two developments, (1) the increase in internet and social media usage and (2) consumers discovering and embracing their growing power, have given the “hashtag activism” movement momentum. Consumers feel empowered to speak up and show support for worthy causes. Brands and even governments are under increasing pressure as social responsibility and transparency are expected by increasingly opinionated consumers. A global Edelman survey in 2017 found that 51% of customers believed brands are able to solve more social problems than governments. Consumers are “voting with their wallets” and actively reviewing and pressuring brands online forcing companies to take a stance on current issues. This has forced brands toward greater direct customer interaction. Brands have to respond quickly and effectively, with some believing customer service to be the new marketing (Joy Bear).

 

% of Respondents Visiting or Updating Social Media at Least Once a Week

Source: Euromonitor International’s Global Consumer Trends Survey 2017

 

CLEAN LIVERS

Consumers’ strong sense of social responsibility increasingly motivates them to seek to provoke change through their consumption choices, thus fuelling trends. Trends include minimalism, veganism and abstinence.  In response to these consumer trends we are seeing an increase in the development of non-alcoholic beverages, alcohol-free festivals and fitness nightclubs. Young consumers, in particular, are increasingly family-oriented and health conscious, seeking meaningful and healthy experiences, rather than ownership.

THE BORROWERS

With consumers increasingly choosing flexibility and freedom over possessions, Borrowers value access not ownership. This rejection of materialism in favour of meaningful experiences is increasingly impacting older generations. Combined with urbanisation and an associated decrease in average living space, it is leading to the emergence of innovative start-ups in the sharing economy, satisfying the increasing demand for sharing, swapping, renting and streaming.

IT’S IN THE DNA – I’M SO SPECIAL

With 25% of Americans stating they were planning to take a DNA test within the next 12 months, consumers’ growing curiosity about their genetic make-up and what it reveals about their ancestry, physiological traits and health risks are causing this infant industry to grow. The genetic testing industry has grown from USD$70million in 2015 to an expected USD$340 million by 2022. The greatest challenge facing the genetic testing industry is to convince potential customers of the effectiveness of testing methods and the security of their personal data.

VIEW IN MY ROOMERS

The emergence of more sophisticated technology and a growing demand for an immersive online shopping experience has brands globally exploring the benefits of augmented reality (AR). AR is believed to satisfy the “try before you buy” demand, giving online shoppers the convenience of shopping anywhere, at any time, with product information and reviews at their disposal, without having to sacrifice the benefits of a traditional in-store shopping experience

SLEUTHY SHOPPERS

A crisis of trust between consumers and the motives of corporations engaged in mass-production is driving consumers to question marketing campaigns, brand images and business practices of companies of interest.

Sceptical consumers are increasingly demanding extensive evidence of labour, production and supply-chain practices to justify purchasing decisions. Proactive transparency and the provision of detailed proof and insight into business practices will foster trust toward the company and their products, helping to create a loyal customer base.

 

Respondents That Only Buy from Companies and Brands They Trust

Source: Euromonitor International Global Consumer Trends Survey 2017

 

I-DESIGNERS

A shift in consumer values from ownership towards experiences is disrupting purchasing patterns globally.

Consumers are aspiring to a meaningful involvement in the creation and production of their acquired possessions. Greater importance is attributed to the purchase itself, with personalisation creating more authenticity and greater value for the consumer. Recent advances in technology have enabled brands to provide customers with the opportunity to assume the role of a designer, adapting products to their taste whilst exercising their inner creativity. This is an essential step in creating a loyal customer base.

CO-LIVING

Skyrocketing real-estate prices in urban centres and the desire to share rather than to own is driving Millennials, as well as over-65s, to cohabitate with like-minded inhabitants, socialising, inspiring and living mortgage-free. Millennials, who are now outnumbering Generation X, now value freedom over ownership. The niche-trend of co-living is disrupting traditional real estate and fostering co-living business ventures, not just in residential but also in the corporate sector. This has created co-working spaces for individuals to interact with and inspire each other.

THE SURVIVORS

Even a decade after the Great Recession (2008-09) the gap between the rich and the poor remains , with 30 million households in developed markets surviving on a low income. The resulting food insecurity is giving rise to foodbanks, whilst the retail industry is responding with the creation of resale shops, grocery discounters and value-based retailers. These value-based retailers have proven resilient against the disruption of online shopping and are expanding faster than any retailer, inspiring traditional retailers to incorporate resale areas into their traditional business models.

Are you aware of key trends in your industry? Do you know how to take advantage of them?

Market Research helps you identify development opportunities so you can grow your business by staying ahead of your competitors. Be the business that sets industry standards and competitors look to for guidance.

 

Source: Euromonitor International

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