Reinventing your small business with a deeper understanding of customers

If you can develop an ongoing unique understanding of your customer’s needs through discussion and observation you will have a competitive advantage.

A great small business example comes from Lex Dwyer, a Melbourne based fitness instructor who repositioned his services as a result of observing customers for hours at a time.

At first he was providing “light relief” at corporate planning workshops by giving executives tips on how to look after their health. He then added to this, physical challenges for managers working in teams, to achieve a specific goal like building a bicycle without assembly instructions. Each team would have an incorrect collection of parts, which needed to be traded with other teams to complete the task. These “games” added value to the planning sessions by incorporating leadership, collaboration and teamwork principles.

Understanding Customer's Fitness Needs

However, as Lex attended his clients’ working sessions he was able to design physical challenges as games that reinforced their business goals. He did this by listening to their discussions, observing their frustrations and disagreements and understanding their business challenges.

This insight enabled him to design exercises as a real-time responses to their observed needs and tie their thinking together in a more holistic approach. Lex found he had a particular talent for seeing the “big” picture and tying together his games with the client’s strategy. As a result he repositioned himself as a provider of leadership services and now works with corporate clients and with business schools’ executive education programs.

Net result – delighted clients and consumers, higher revenue and making a difference to people’s lives. Lex’s personal vision of “making a difference” is a reality.

To gain deep customer insights, you have to ask questions and observe customers in multiple ways with disciplined processes. Insight comes from integrating different pieces of information and gaining a multi-faceted knowledge of your customers. It is gained from knowledge of how they think and act before, during and after their purchase. It requires knowledge of the entire customer experience.