Henry Ford is reported to have said: “If I’d asked people what they wanted, they would have asked for a faster horse.” A hundred years later, too many businesses proudly display a similar attitude, thinking that they know best for their customers.
Others have recognised that social media platforms have made it easier to communicate directly with customers, and for customers to feed back to companies. How many of us turn to Twitter to complain before even thinking about picking up the phone to customer services? As a result, companies are coming up with detailed content plans, chasing likes, comments and user-generated content to show off the depth of their “customer engagement”.
Engagement is one thing; truly listening to customers’ wants and needs, and making changes as a result, is much harder to do, but ultimately much more worthwhile. As a challenger brand, we understand this. We have always had to be more agile and more responsive than our competitors to grow and thrive. From the beginning we have had to focus on the things consumers really want to win their business — and keep it.
That’s not to say we have always been perfect. As we grew and expanded, like many other businesses, a gap opened between us and our customers. We became too caught up in chasing the rest of the industry to stop and understand what it was our customers really needed from us.
It took a bit of time for us to realise what had happened, and that we needed to get back to our roots and start listening again. It also meant we had to take some brave decisions, and we had to have the confidence to do what was right rather than what was easy.
But it is paying off. We have recently recorded some of our highest satisfaction levels, and customer churn is dropping. After all, happy customers are valued customers. They are more likely to stick with you, to buy more products from you and to tell their friends about you too.
Ultimately, nobody likes to be told what they can and cannot do, what they can and cannot have. In a global, connected world, it’s easier than ever for customers to vote with their feet — so if you don’t take the time to get under their skin, they will find someone who will.