Empathy, properly employed, is a robust business tool that smart entrepreneurs use to design winning value propositions.
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Key Takeaways & Actionable Insights
Here’s why empathy matters for entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs’ success depends on what others do — those others being customers. The entrepreneur has the goal of customers buying, as a result of listening to their preferences and meeting them.
But there’s a little more work to do than just listening. As we discovered in Dr. Mark Packard’s previous podcast episodes, the customer is engaged in a continuous, dynamic, and ever-changing value learning process: learning what they, subjectively, really want. So they can’t tell you what they prefer when they are still engaged in the learning process. So listening, while useful in gathering factual knowledge, isn’t quite enough for the entrepreneur to embark upon designing a solution.
The entrepreneur must develop a special kind of “needs understanding” for their chosen customer group.
As Dr. Packard stresses — and as is foundational to the application of Austrian economics to business — the customer determines value, and that value takes the form of an experience: how customers feel about the experienced benefit of an economic exchange like buying a car, driving it, getting it serviced, and sensing the esteem of others for the choice they made.
There are two kinds of knowledge, factual and tacit. Your customers can communicate factual knowledge to you. They can’t communicate tacit knowledge, because it is derived from experiences that only they can feel.
So entrepreneurs must find a tool to represent the tacit knowledge that’s locked in the customer’s mind — a tool for “needs understanding”. The tool Dr. Packard proposes is a mental model the entrepreneur can use in the empathic process.
Importantly, empathy is not emotional mirroring — feeling what another person feels. It’s an active implementation of the entrepreneurial imagination, a cognitive act that the entrepreneur can plan and perform.
The process of modeling “needs understanding” starts with factual knowledge, purposely gathered and organized.
What entrepreneurs must pursue is deep learning about why customers feel the way they do about their experiences The goal is to gain insight in order to be able to improve consumers’ future experience. This requires knowledge-based inference from your empathic imagination about the causes of the current experience.
To do that, entrepreneurs need substantial background information—especially the personal and situational context surrounding the experience: the specifics of who, what, when, why and how. It’s not about imagining the experience of random people; it’s about learning a lot about a specific person in order to be able to successfully empathize with them.
Factual knowledge can be run through the entrepreneur’s mental model.
Once factual knowledge of the customer, their context and their current experience is gathered, the entrepreneur makes two runs of this information through their mental model. Think of it as running a simulation — a mental simulation.
The first run of the mental model is based on the entrepreneur’s own experience. Pick an experience that you’ve had and can self-analyze, so that you have a model of what that experience feels like. Now run the information you’ve gathered about the customer through that model — what does it suggest that they might feel? For example, think of an experience that you’ve had where you bought a product you expected to enjoy, and it disappointed. What did that feel like?
The second run of the mental model is the empathic mental model based on the entrepreneur’s understanding of the customer’s current or recent experience as told during knowledge gathering. You can understand what you felt like when a product disappointed. Now you imagine what the customer feels like or felt like as a consequence of a comparable experience.
The final step is to project the empathic mental model into the future.
The ultimate goal is to imagine what the customer’s feeling would be like in the future, following an experience with a new product or service value proposition offered by the entrepreneur. This is a projection — one that can be carefully constructed from the two previous runs of the mental model.
Create a mental model from your own experiences.
Run that mental model for an experience that a customer has reported to you that they have felt in the past.
Then run a projection of that model for the new experience you are planning to offer.
The more developed this skill becomes, the more confidence you can develop in your empathic projection, and the better you will be able to evaluate the business opportunity you are imagining you will design and create, and the value the customer will experience.
Just as the customer learns what to value, the entrepreneur can learn to project future value.
Dr. Packard emphasizes that the customer is continuously engaged in a learning process — assessing value propositions, making decisions as to what to buy and what to try, then evaluating the resulting experience — was it better or worse than expected?
The entrepreneur must keep up with this learning process, monitoring the customer’s dynamic subjectivism, their ever-changing preferences amidst an ever-changing context.
By keeping up via continuous monitoring, the entrepreneur will be able to make multiple runs of the empathic mental model, and test the model results for increasing predicted value.
https://hunterhastings.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/e4e-cover-98.jpg10632500rickhttps://hunterhastings.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/hh-logo-blk.svgrick2020-12-29 18:17:172020-12-29 18:17:1798. Mark Packard’s Empathic Mental Model for Predicting Future Customer Value
Entrepreneurs refuse to accept the status quo. Their function is to create new economic value for their customers, and thereby to profit for themselves, both financially and psychically. They do this by introducing new products and services to the marketplace, designing and implementing new processes, adding value to others’ inventions by turning them into market-wide innovations, and offering new pleasures and satisfactions and solutions that no-one knew of or imagined.
The pursuit of new is a refusal to accept the status quo. That includes any and all existing market conditions and structures, any monopolistic incumbent firms, any regulatory barriers, any capital shortages, any “it can’t be done” pessimism.
We think of entrepreneurs in economic terms, market movers dealing in goods and services, taking dollars and cents in exchange. But the entrepreneurial mindset and the entrepreneurial process can be applied in many more contexts where the status quo requires a challenge and change is called for. Functional entrepreneurship is a process that can be described as a series of steps:
Development of entrepreneurial belief. An entrepreneur develops and continually adapts and polishes a belief about the status quo that no-one else holds. The belief is that the status quo is inadequate, wrong, or susceptible to improvement. For whom? For customers – i.e. not for the entrepreneur herself but for others. The status quo is under-serving others, and the entrepreneur is determined to fix that error. The entrepreneur, of course, expects to get something back in return, which could be psychic fulfillment (a sense of purpose and meaning from being the status quo buster) as well as profit (which is the financial signal to the entrepreneur to keep going). It all starts with dissatisfaction and the belief in the possibility of eliminating it.
Alignment with customers: As the entrepreneur develops the belief, she or he continuously aligns with (potential) customers. Am I getting this right? Does what I believe align with your preferences? If I change things in the way I am thinking, will you endorse the change? You are the customer, and you are my guide. You have the final decision.
Implementation: Given supportive feedback from customers (“the market”), the entrepreneur moves ahead with the new initiative – designing, building, and marketing it. It’s offered to the market as a value proposition (“I think you might like this – here’s why”). The market (i.e. customers) responds yes, no or conditionally (“I’d like it better if………). The entrepreneur receives the feedback, reshapes the value proposition and re-offers it until the customer confirms “Yes! That’s it!”
This mindset and the BAI process – Belief, Alignment, Implementation – can be applied not only in business but in any context or setting where there is dissatisfaction with the status quo on which an entrepreneur can build a belief and a customer can express a preference. As a result, we can imagine a wide range of fields in which the entrepreneurial mindset can be applied to society’s benefit.
Many of the institutions in our society have reached all time lows of disrespect. Representative democracy is being widely questioned, and the institution of Congress has a very low approval rating (18% job approval – and moving lower – according to Gallup Poll in mid 2020). Also in the Gallup Poll, half of Americans revealed “somewhat negative” or “very negative” ratings of the federal government. We are losing confidence in our money, and the Federal Reserve, the institution charged with preserving its integrity and value, yet does the opposite. Similarly, we re losing respect for educational institutions that prefer to indoctrinate our children rather than educate them.
In all these instances, there are entrepreneurs who have developed the belief that they can bring improvements to a corroded status quo. Even democracy can be innovated. Or, alternatively, we could re-think the entire founding of the US. Entrepreneurs are the ones who initiate these changes.
Regulation is the context in which entrepreneurs work. The more thoughtful entrepreneurs question whether the context is unchangeable, and they find innovative ways to make change. Uber and AirBnB are recent multi-billion dollar examples of what’s possible. Uber is what contracted automobile transportation looks like when entrepreneurs question the regulation that keeps the restrictive taxi monopoly in place. According to Josh Johnston Airbnb is just what hotels look like without hotel regulations. Entrepreneurs can out-think regulators.
Social entrepreneurship is a term that is often misused to mean entrepreneurial initiatives that are conducted without a profit motive, aiming for a higher target of good for society that entrepreneurial capitalism can’t achieve. The true case is that all entrepreneurship is for social good, because society is simply another word for entrepreneurs’ customers, and entrepreneurs want them to do well. Entrepreneurs offer society more and more good things, while trying to use less and less of society’s resources (i.e. lower costs), thereby freeing them up for other social uses.
A great example of profit-directed social entrepreneurship is the initiative called Entrepreneur Zones, the brainchild of Dale Caldwell of Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Rothman Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. With Entrepreneur Zones, Dr. Caldwell aims to solve problems of urban poverty, family instability and academic underachievement by establishing an environment where local residents can start and grow businesses and make them thrive, in n environment of shared purpose, supportive investment, training, mentoring and relaxed regulation. The goal is to improve society by making a profit, generating jobs, and creating the social environment in which families can pay their bills and their kids can do well in school.
In November 2020, Frank Newport of Gallup wrote A Letter to Elected Representatives, From the Average American, based on what average Americans had told Gallup in surveys. One of the statements is this: “I have lost faith in many of our culture’s institutions in recent years”. The term cultural institutions can include many things from religion to the healthcare system. Gallup reports that Congress has by far the lowest confidence of all institutions, of course, but confidence in many of our other institutions is redoing too. The next lowest after Congress is big business followed by the news media (TV and Newspapers), the criminal justice system, and organized labor, then banks and public schools.
We can see entrepreneurial improvements emerging for all these institutions. Home schooling and private schools; fintech replacing many bank functions; reformers trying to change the criminal justice system; internet news outlets offering alternatives to mainstream news media. Consumers get to choose which of these innovations they’ll support. Entrepreneurs will continue trying to secure that support through integrity, earning trust, and giving great service, which is where so many of our institutions fail.
Entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship are society’s resources for continuous improvement of the status quo.
https://hunterhastings.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/shutterstock_234850588-scaled.jpg14602560Hunter Hastingshttps://hunterhastings.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/hh-logo-blk.svgHunter Hastings2020-12-25 11:18:252020-12-25 11:47:37Entrepreneurs Are Those Who Refuse To Accept The Status Quo – In Business, Politics, Institutions And Society.
With the development of the Austrian Business Paradigm and the Austrian Business Model, and tools such as the “Value Learning Process,” businesses of all kinds can utilize the deep insights of Austrian economics to further enhance how they facilitate value for their customers.
John Boles — an avid listener of the Economics for Entrepreneurs Podcast — provides an example of how he applies these insights at his accounting firm.
Download The Episode Resource Continuous Value Perception Monitoring Tool – Download
Key Takeaways & Actionable Insights
1) Improved customer understanding.
The Austrian business paradigm places the customer in first position. This contrasts with traditional business thinking that puts the firm or the product or service in first position and searches for ways (“strategies”) to sell or market that offering to a set of customers who are to be identified during the selling process.
The way to put the customer in first position is to make your top priority a deep and intimate understanding of the customer, demographically (who they are), functionally (what they do and how they do it) and emotionally (how they feel — about key issues and challenges, about vendors and service providers, about competition and every aspect of business).
The first question Austrian business practitioners ask themselves is: how deep and intimate is my customer knowledge, and can it be improved?
2) Calibrating the customer’s perception of value.
Value is a feeling that exists only in the mind of the customer. The entrepreneur’s task is to facilitate that feeling of value — ease the way for the customer to arrive at that happy state of mind. It’s imperative for entrepreneurs to try to feel what the customer feels — to sympathize with their perception of value, rather than to focus only what the firm is delivering. We must know what the customer is buying, not just what we are selling.
The tools to use are monitoring of customer behavior (what they do — for example, shopping around for alternatives — is more important than what they say); making sure you understand their rankings of features, attributes and benefits, that is, what’s most important to them; and conducting interviews about the value experience. Ask the question: is the customer’s perception of value experienced aligned with the firm’s perception of value delivered?
3) Are value adjustments indicated?
The Austrian view of the market as a process helps us think about continuous change. Customers are continuously interacting with other customers, competitors, ideas, new value propositions, environmental conditions, regulations and a plethora of marketplace changes. Consequently, their perceptions of value are in constant flux. It should not be a surprise that entrepreneurs need to make value adjustments. It may be necessary to change perceptions of absolute value (via an adjustment in the value proposition), of relative value (via an adjustment in comparison with alternative propositions), or of exchange value (via adjustment in pricing, bling terms, or discounts / rebates).
4) Communicating adjustments.
It’s easy to overlook a critical component of value adjustments: communication. The Austrian business model advocates frequent in-depth conversations with customers at every level. These conversations, while always two-way of course, can be primarily designed for outbound communication, describing the adjustments made, and why they were made and ensuring the customer understands the responsiveness of the firm; or for inbound data gathering, primarily listening in order to further increase understanding of the customer and their preferences.
Customer communication is a component of perceived value.
5) Ongoing evaluation.
The customer is always evaluating the service provider / vendor and their value proposition, through the lens of experience: did the value experience match the anticipated experience; and, if not, in what ways was it deficient? The service provider / vendor must also undertake continuous evaluation. Did the value adjustments succeed? Are more called for? What are the indicators of change?
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Continuous Value Perception Monitoring + Adjustment (PDF): Get It Here
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What if the generalized approach to life was something like this: my most fulfilling and most profitable pathway is to first help other people – make their life better – and thereby help myself to a better life.
This is not the generalized approach today. It’s more common for people to think that they live in a system that they have to fight against, and that they help themselves by gaming it for advantage. That’s the mindset behind student loans, credit card debt, welfare, and many more common life strategies.
It is the ethic of entrepreneurship to choose the outer-directed course. To start from the point of view of identifying other people’s wants, and to undertake to address those wants with marketplace solutions: goods and services designed specifically for customers’ wants. The customer’s satisfaction is the object of the entrepreneur’s activity, creativity, investment and commitment to getting the commercial formula right, i.e. identifying the right benefit and the right cost so that the customer feels value.
A great part of the entrepreneur’s ethic of customer service and satisfaction is embracing the uncertainty of the market. Economists use the term “uncertainty” to indicate that hoping for a good result in the future – perhaps setting your heart on it – is unwise, simply because the future is unpredictable. It can’t be known, and so it’s improvident to wish for it. Entrepreneurs accept this uncertainty; they embrace it. They’re not discombobulated by it. They take on that stress for others who don’t have the calling. They provide a calming influence that’s beneficial for everyone in society. Customers don’t need to experience uncertainty; they’re certain of a supply of everything they need or demand, because multiple entrepreneurs are competing with each other to serve customers better. The entrepreneur’s uncertainty is the customer’s surety.
Similarly, the entrepreneur is undisconcerted by change. Many of us feel we are living through a period of change that has exhibited more volatility than we’ve seen in a lifetime. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, make change their metier. Every element of change is, for them, an opportunity. “Bring it on!”, they say to change. They make lemonade when change delivers lemons. For evidence, look at the flood of new businesses being formed during the coronavirus pandemic. While politicians are forcing businesspeople to close their current businesses, and are forcing workers into unemployment, they are unable to repress the entrepreneurial spirit.
Change may be continuous or discontinuous, happening gradually or hitting us over the head with a massive, seemingly instantaneous radical change to our circumstances (like the one we are currently living through). Possessors of the entrepreneurial spirit respond with a question: what new unmet needs are emerging and how can we help people to meet them? The solutions they imagine and produce may range from new ways to provide jobs to new ways to communicate and collaborate to new ways to provide safety and re-ignite confidence and energy. The judges of how accurate the entrepreneurs are in their imagination, design and production are customers. They declare their decision by buying or not buying and the entrepreneur moves on to improve or take a new direction. Entrepreneurs bring us dynamism with their adaptive responses to customer wants and needs and purchase decisions.
What is this entrepreneurial spirit? It’s an ethic, a commitment to serve others. John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods describes entrepreneurial business as “an expression of love in action”. Entrepreneurs are servants, who prioritize the needs of others”, says Mackey. They are following a heartfelt impulse to help.
And, although the term “entrepreneur” can sometimes be interpreted as implying a standout individual who leads a dynamic company by exercising her or his own charisma and leadership, Mackey writes that businesses “depend on interacting networks of actual people – engaging, refining, inventing, imagining, sharing, and building on one another’s work.”
All of us can adopt the entrepreneurial spirit, especially when we exercise it collaboratively with others in a team. That’s the entire concept of the economic principle of the division of labor. We all find and identify our own special contribution – the knowledge and skill that we alone possess and are capable of exercising on behalf of others – and then we deploy it in a joint effort with others towards the shared goal of serving customers, first producing collaboratively with others so that we can, later, consume individually based on our own preferences.
How do entrepreneurial team members contribute? Based on the personal resources they bring. There are unlimited ways. One point to note from John Mackey’s book Conscious Leadership is that IQ is not a good measure of contribution and we are wrong to try to measure it quantitatively. Focus on IQ and other measures of “intelligence” or educational achievement can obscure the “multiple kinds of personal competence” that individuals can bring to teams and productive networks.
Thus the cultivation of the entrepreneurial ethic is good for all individuals, good for collaborative production and innovation, good for family, friends and neighborhoods, and good for society. We should be elevating this ethic in the minds of our children and not permitting teachers’ unions and left-wing educational authorities and institutions to teach that capitalism is evil.
https://hunterhastings.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/shutterstock_327189830-scaled-e1608069967434.jpg11392540Hunter Hastingshttps://hunterhastings.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/hh-logo-blk.svgHunter Hastings2020-12-15 14:07:182020-12-15 14:07:18The Ethic Of Entrepreneurship.
Researchers into entrepreneurship have a powerful incentive to identify new insights about how businesses grow and thrive.
Download The Episode Resource What Entrepreneurship Is (and Isn’t) – Download
Key Takeaways & Actionable Insights
Happily for everyone involved in business and innovation, entrepreneurial research is thriving, blossoming, and flourishing.
Professor Vishal Gupta’s book, Great Minds In Entrepreneurship Research, surveys thirty or more years of research papers that were awarded what is colloquially known as the Nobel Prize in Entrepreneurship Research (formally known as the Global Award for Entrepreneurship Research: GAER). The research field is deep, rich, dynamic and expanding.
Research identifies and examines entrepreneurship in every business size and type as a fundamental economic activity.
In its earliest days, entrepreneurship research focused a lot on small business but, today, business size and stage are not the constraints. The research identifies entrepreneurship in corporations, non-profits, and many more business sectors.
Much of the research focus is on entrepreneurial contribution — to growth, to job creation, to innovation, to progress.
Entrepreneurship is identified as the great economic contributor to betterment and well-being, measured via GDP growth in countries large and small, the creation of new and better jobs for people worldwide, new innovations and new business directions, and individual progress in general. As Mises stated, entrepreneurship is the driving force of the market system.
New entry, properly understood, is one way to characterize entrepreneurship.
The search for a single characteristic of entrepreneurship risks missing critical insights. However, one that garners broad support is “new entry” — entering new markets, entering existing markets with new value propositions, entering established product fields with new innovations, or entering into existing customer mindsets with new ideas.
Economic productivity is another.
A rich vein of entrepreneurship research has measured the efficiency that entrepreneurs bring to the use of resources — producing more with less. For example, research has measured innovation efficiency as the number of innovations per employee, and has found that smaller, more nimble firms are far more efficient on this metric than big corporations, even if the latter launch more new products in total (and generate more PR).
The research has uncovered a new type of firm and business model, and new business ratios that result.
NTBF is the acronym for New Technology Based Firms, those that innovate with new business models and new ways to facilitate service experience via dematerialized delivery. One of the results of these new models is new sets of business ratios — for example, revenue per employees which, with software based companies on the internet, can now reach never-before realized levels. This evolution has forced researchers to re-think some of their models. For example, the biologically-derived product life cycle (PLC) model of business maturity — birth, life and death — has to be revised because dematerialized companies can easily be re-born, even after near-death experiences. Think Apple — the founder died and, at one time, it was thought that the company might, but it was reborn.
Research opens up entirely new ways to think about business.
New research fields such as complex adaptive systems (or complex creative systems as Professor Todd Chiles prefers to call them) represent a new way to think about business — focusing less on individual firms and more on the value networks and service systems of which they are a part.
New ways of evaluating business potential are also emerging from research.
Professor Gupta discussed characteristics of firms such as knowledge absorption and absorptive capacity. Extending the Hayekian concept of distributed specialized knowledge, researchers have identified the ability to quickly absorb and apply new knowledge as a critical capacity of successful adaptive firms, and have shed light on many of the internal constraints this absorptive capacity.
Research recognizes the role of entrepreneurial imagination and subjectivity, although it doesn’t always get it right.
Austrian economics highlights subjectivity and views entrepreneurial opportunity as a subjective phenomenon, based in the imagination of the entrepreneur. Not all entrepreneurship researchers have been able to become comfortable with this idea, continuing to see opportunity as objectively identifiable. Austrians seem to be in the ascendancy on this controversy.
Importantly, entrepreneurship research is becoming interdisciplinary.
Systems thinking requires an interdisciplinary approach. Researchers in sociology, psychology, finance and even anthropology are examining entrepreneurship via their own research lenses. This development can only help the advance of entrepreneurship across a broad front of society and culture, as well as economics.
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“What Entrepreneurship Is (and Isn’t)” (PDF): Get It Here
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Consumer sovereignty is a principle of Austrian economics. Here’s how entrepreneurs apply the principle in business, as told by Martin Lünendonk, co-founder of FounderJar.com, as well as Finance Club and Cleverism.com.
Download The Episode Resource How To Make The Customer Your Boss – Download
Key Takeaways & Actionable Insights
“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company, from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” —Sam Walton
Though they are several decades old, these words by Walmart founder Sam Walton are still very relevant, especially in today’s highly competitive world.
This is particularly true for those trying to make money online. You are already in competition with hundreds, perhaps thousands of other businesses, and if you do not put your customers first, they can easily move to the competition. It’s as easy as tapping a few buttons on their smartphone.
Great business leaders understand that businesses exist for one sole purpose — to serve the needs of their customers. If you want your business to not only survive, but to thrive in this hyper-competitive world, it’s time you started treating your customers like the boss.
Below, let’s take a look at the steps you need to take to place your customers in their rightful seat — the boss’s seat.
1. Identify the Key Problems Customers Want To Get Solved
To effectively serve your customers, you need to first identify what key problems the customer is trying to solve.
Very often, entrepreneurs set out to solve problems they think the customer has, without trying to look at things from the customers’ point of view and confirm whether the customer has this problem, and whether it is a problem they are trying to solve.
For instance, Blackberry assumed that what its customers wanted was a laptop that could fit on the palm, so they focused on improving the physical keyboard.
Apple, on the other hand, realized that what customers actually wanted was a device that was amazingly easy to use, and when they introduced a device with a touch screen and no physical buttons, they took Blackberry out of business.
So, how do you identify the problems that customers are trying to solve? There are two ways to do this:
Listen To Your Customers
The easiest way to identify the problems your customers are trying to solve is to actually listen to them. They know what they are struggling with and why they need this problem solved.
If you listen to your customers, you are unlikely to find yourself in a situation where you are solving a problem no one cares about.
There are two main approaches you can take to listen to your customers and identify the problems they are trying to solve. Here are a few…
Interview your customers: Your first option is to get proactive and ask the customers directly. You can do this using surveys on your website, by getting on the phone and talking to customers, through focus groups, and so on.
Look at customer reviews: Your customer reviews present another great opportunity for you to learn about the problems your customers are trying to solve. Here, you should place more focus on the negative comments, since these are the ones that highlight customer needs that are not being met. However, even positive comments can give insights into customer problems that you’re solving effectively.
Listen To Your Salespeople
The second approach to identifying the problems customers are trying to solve is to listen to your salespeople.
Your salespeople are in direct contact with your customers, and they, therefore, have better insights into your customers’ thought processes.
They know the pain points that drive customers to purchase your products and services, they know the things that customers like or dislike about your products, they know the reasons that keep some customers from purchasing, and so on.
By administering surveys to your sales teams, you can gain insights that will help you figure out your customers’ key problems, which will in turn help you to serve them better.
When trying to gain insights about customer problems, either from the customers themselves or from your salespeople, it’s good to try to get to the root cause of the problem. Sometimes, what you think is the problem might not actually be the problem.
For instance, at one point, Disney was experiencing lots of criticism because visitors felt the queues for the rides were too long. At first glance, the problem seems obvious – visitors spending too much time waiting for their rides.
The solutions to this problem are obvious as well. To shorten the queues, Disney would either have to invest in more rides, or reduce the number of visitors getting into their parks. Both of these solutions would cost Disney millions.
Disney hired a group of designers to help them solve this problem. After interviews with Disney visitors, the designers realized that the problem wasn’t the long queues. The problem was that visitors were getting bored because they had nothing to do while waiting in the queue.
To solve the problem, they had Disney add themed music and videos that visitors could listen to and watch while waiting for their rides. By getting to the root cause of the problem, they were able to come up with an effective solution that saved Disney millions.
Similarly, do not take your customers’ feedback at face value. Try to identify what the root problem is before you start developing a solution.
2. Make Sure Your Offering Solves Those Customer Problems
Now that you have identified the problems that your customers are trying to solve, it’s time to come up with solutions to solve those problems.
The best way to ensure that the solution you are developing solves the actual problems your customers are struggling with is to involve your customers in the development process.
One approach is to develop a minimum viable product (MVP) of your solution and show it to a group of customers with the problem you are trying to solve. You then collect their feedback, and use insights to improve your next iteration and ensure that your final solution solves the customer problem in the most effective way.
For instance, when creating DropBox, founder Drew Houston didn’t want to spend months, perhaps years, working on a product that no one was interested in, so he started with an MVP.
Drew’s MVP was a simple 3-minute video demonstrating how his product was meant to work. He shared the video on Digg, an online community of technology early adopters.
After sharing his video, over 70,000 people joined the DropBox beta waiting list within a single night, which was enough validation that his product was solving the right problem.
Another way to involve customers in the development of your solution is to form a small community of beta testers and give them access to your solution during the development process.
This works even if you are developing a service-based product. For instance, if you are a digital marketing consultant, you could create a package — say a content marketing package — and test it among a small group of customers before you launch it in full scale.
The aim here is to have a group of actual customers continually testing the solution you are developing to make sure that it addresses their key concerns in the best possible manner for them.
This way, you don’t have to worry about spending months or years coming up with a solution to your customers’ problems, only to discover that it is not the kind of solution they were looking for.
Another way to ensure that what you are offering solves your customers’ actual problems is to conduct A/B tests. This basically involves creating two versions of your offering, giving two small groups of customers access to each version, and then tracking the results to identify the version that solves customers’ most effectively.
3. Track Customer Satisfaction
Ultimately, what matters is keeping your customers satisfied. If your boss is unsatisfied with your work, you can bet that you will be out of work soon.
Similarly, if your customers are unsatisfied with your business, they will fire you – by spending their money on your competitors.
To know whether your customers are happy, you need a way to track and measure customer satisfaction. Here are five of the most effective ways of measuring customer satisfaction:
Customer Satisfaction Surveys
This is one of the easiest ways of tracking customer satisfaction. With this approach, you simply need to put up a survey asking your customers how satisfied they are with your services.
Depending on the medium you are using to administer the survey, you can add one to three open-ended questions to learn more about what they think of your services.
Customer satisfaction surveys can be served through email, through your website, or through your app.
Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)
The CSAT is the standard metric for measuring customer satisfaction. Here, you ask customers to rate how satisfied they are with your products or services on a scale. The scale could be 1 – 3, 1 – 5, or 1 – 10.
After receiving responses from various customers, you then find the average rating to determine your customer satisfaction score. The higher the score, the more satisfied customers are with your services.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
This is another popular metric for measuring how happy customers are with your business and your services.
Unlike the other metrics covered here, however, NPS does not measure how satisfied customers are with your business. Instead, it measures how likely they are to refer someone to your business. This is especially useful for those in the freelance business, which depends heavily on referrals.
The NPS will ask a customer to rate on a scale of 1 – 10, how likely they are to recommend your business to their friends and acquaintances.
Promoters: These are customers who give you a rating of 9 – 10. They are willing to spread the word about your business and recommend your products and services. These customers are already satisfied with your business.
Neutral/Passives: These are customers who give you a rating of 7 – 8. They are indifferent to your business. They aren’t disappointed with your business, but they aren’t satisfied either. They are unlikely to talk about your business to others.
Detractors: These are customers who give your business a rating of 6 and below. They are unhappy with your business, and will spread negative word about your business in a bid to discourage others from doing business with you.
The Net Promoter Score is a very useful metric. If someone is willing to recommend your business to others, then this means that your products or services are good enough that they would stake their reputation on them.
Customer Effort Score (CES)
This metric measures customer experience, particularly how hard it is for your customers to get what they want from your business. Customers are typically asked to rate their effort from 1 (very little effort) to 7 (very high effort).
A high score means that customers have to work very hard to get what they need from your business, which translates to poor customer experience.
Social Media Mentions
Keeping track of what people are saying about your business on social media can also help you figure out how satisfied your customers are with your business.
Satisfied customers will take to social media to praise your business, while unhappy customers will share their dissatisfaction with their social media followers.
Monitoring the conversations about your business happening on social media will allow you to step in and respond to comments in time and control your brand perception, especially when people are sharing negative comments.
Here are three tools that you can use to track social media mentions:
A lot of entrepreneurs believe that the core purpose of a business is to make profits.
Smart entrepreneurs, those with the right entrepreneurial mindset, on the other hand, know that the core purpose of a business is to serve its customers. Therefore, their core focus is on delivering customer value.
Of course, this does not mean that businesses that put customer value first don’t think about profits. They do. What differs is their approach.
These businesses understand that when you keep your customers happy (by delivering great value), these customers will bring more business, and spread positive word about your business, leading to more business, and ultimately, greater profits.
Actually, the findings of research by Deloitte and Touche show that companies that put customers first are 60% more profitable compared to those that don’t.
So, what exactly does it mean to put customer value first?
Putting customer value first means that every single business decision made within your organization should have a positive impact on customer experience.
For instance, when upgrading its systems, a customer-centric company will choose systems that allow it to deliver the best customer experience.
Similarly, when hiring, customer-centric companies go for employees who show a knack for putting customers first. Basically, every decision is evaluated based on its impact on customer experience.
Here are some tips on how to make your company customer-centric and put customer value first:
Understand your customers deeply. It is impossible to put customers first when you don’t even know who they are. To get a good understanding of who your customers are, you need to develop highly detailed buyer personas. Actually, gaining a good understanding of the customer segments you’re targeting is a key component of the business model canvas.
Make sure that all your team members are engaged and have a good idea of the impact of their work on customer experience.
Make it a habit to collect customer feedback, and then use this feedback to gain insights on how to improve the customer experience.
Don’t just focus on getting customers to make the purchase. Focus on building relationships that will turn them into loyal customers and brand ambassadors.
Be easily accessible. Make it easy for customers to get in touch with your business when they have an issue, or when they need any sort of help.
Ready To Put Your Customers In The Boss’s Seat?
As an entrepreneur, you are in business to serve your customers, which means that your customers are your boss. If you want your business to thrive, you need to start treating them as such, by putting their needs first.
In this article, we have gone over 4 key points on how to make the customer your boss. Here’s a recap:
Identify the key problems customers want to get solved
Make sure your offering solves those customer problems
Track and measure customer satisfaction
Put customer value first and profits will follow
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https://hunterhastings.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/e4e-cover-95.jpg10632500Hunter Hastingshttps://hunterhastings.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/hh-logo-blk.svgHunter Hastings2020-12-08 15:01:202020-12-08 15:01:2095. Martin Lünendonk: How To Make The Customer Your Boss