Customer insight comes from a deep understanding of customers’ needs and drivers of customer behavior at a level well beyond what customers themselves can explain. These needs are understood from what customers tell us, but more deeply from what we observe customers doing and the frustrations they have in using particular products, services and companies.
Richard Branson, when trying to identify industries to enter a new Virgin service, asks the brainstorming question – “What are 10 things that nobody would say about this industry?” He and his team then prioritize those ideas that would create value for customers and profits for virgin. The next step is decide if a Virgin service can be designed to deliver some of these unspoken values in that industry. It is a great example of outside in thinking, starting with the customer’s pain points or needs and working backwards.
At Mercedes-Benz, rather than asking customers “What do you think of Mercedes-Benz?” a standard question that gets the standard answers about high quality, luxury and so on, they reverse the question –
“What do you think Mercedes-Benz thinks of you?”
This unique twist on a common question results in much deeper insights. Many customers responded initially by saying thing like “ you think we are made of money … that we have all the time in the world”. These responses led the company to find ways of making its car servicing much more convenient for customers and to build in servicing costs to the initial purchase or lease arrangement.
In both cases these are questions designed to get customer insight that goes beyond what customers will normally tell us.
Are you asking the right questions?