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The importance of listening to customers' needs to improve our product

15 October 2021 · By Irene Martínez

“Know your customer” is one of the most important rules in product development and sales. There’s little use in offering a product to someone when you don’t know what they are looking for. The very same rule applies in business to business (B2B). 

But here’s where it gets tricky. If you focus too hard on the business you’re selling to, rather than the person you’re designing for, then your product proposition can miss the mark.

Customer-centric strategies for B2B products: the basics

Embracing a customer-focused mindset may just boost your sales. In fact, Dimension Data's 2017 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report found that 84% of companies saw an uplift in revenue after improving their customer experience.  

This is unsurprising, really. After all, it may be the business that pays a licensing fee or monthly subscription, but it’s their employees who’ll be using your product or service day in and day out. And if they don’t like what they’re receiving, that account surely won’t last long.

Becoming customer-centric is as much a cultural change as it is a product and sales strategy. That said, there are a few techniques you can adopt right away to think less about the intangible business you’re serving and more about your solution’s real end user:

Walk a mile in your end user’s shoes

Understanding the customer journey allows you to see and experience how an end user feels at every stage of considering, using, and terminating your service. 

Journey mapping is a great way to visualize the customer journey and highlight both the problem areas as well as untapped opportunities. Following a journey map can unleash powerful insights into the motivations and feelings of your customers that are often otherwise missed. 

>> Click here to learn more about customer journey mapping in B2B. 

Gather data at every stage of the journey — and use it!

We are living in a world full of data, and most of the time we fail to take advantage of it.

The value of data lies in connections, so it’s important to capture and link up relevant data from all sources of customer contact. That should include product analytics and customer service insights, as well as information gathered via external platforms, such as social media. It’s here that customers are more likely to share their genuine experiences — good or bad.

You don’t get Fortune 100 businesses tweeting about their favorite products and services, but their staff members sure do.

Invest in hands-on customer research

Beyond gathering data and utilizing social sentiment analysis, primary customer research is essential for any product or sales team looking to stay customer-centric. 

Send out satisfaction surveys, conduct user interviews, host group feedback sessions — however you do it, make sure you’re hearing from your end users first-hand. Listening to your customer means asking them what they think, why they think it and, most importantly, acting on what you’ve learned.

Is your product as customer-centric as it could be?

Staying customer-centric is a key value here at Bdeo. We build our AI insurance products to make work lives easier for insurance professionals and to help build trust between insurers and the insured.

These are the questions we ask ourselves and our teams to maintain total customer focus: 

Are you focusing on the problem or the solution?

It’s tempting to apply ‘quick fixes’ to the problems that exist, rather than spending time understanding why a solution is needed at all. But working this way risks a long list of product features that look and sound good on paper, without really managing to make your user’s lives better. 

The best products are the ones that are designed to tackle the root cause of a problem — not just throw a band-aid on it and move on. 

Do you know the rationale behind your full feature set?

Speaking of feature sets, a truly customer-centric product or service will have everything the end user needs — and nothing that they don’t. 

Does your website, app, or service include features that are rarely used by anyone? It happens more often than you’d think! Sometimes it is borne of team bias — ”I’d want this feature, so I’m assuming our users would to” — or out of a rush to beat your competitors with all the bells and whistles.

You may think more is… well, more. But if you’ve packed your product or service full of cool features, few of which deliver real value, then need to re-evaluate. One feature that serves a thousand people more effectively than your rivals is better than thousands of features that cater to just one user.

Are your future plans shaped by customer feedback… or by your own business mission?

Lastly, ask yourself what’s inspiring your ongoing optimization and innovation strategy: you or your customers?

We’ve already touched on how important it is to gather usage data, customer sentiments, and verbal feedback from your end users… and what you find will be a treasure trove of high-value insights that’ll shape your strategic roadmap!

Is there a certain untapped opportunity that crops up in the majority of customer journeys? Do your interviewees all speak of needing a particular add-on to the product or service? This is gold dust in customer-centric development — find a way to make it happen!

Of course, you’ll also have goals and objectives as an organization. But here’s the undeniable truth: you won’t be able to achieve what you want if no one’s paying you money. 

Start with customer-centric design, continue to develop your product or service with customers in mind, and you’ll have the trust, authority, and profit required to shoot for the stars.

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