We Know What Our Customers Want – We’ve Worked With Them For years. But …

I’ve heard this statement many times and it is often followed by a “…our new digital initiative or campaign is not working as expected”.

The reasons why digital endeavors fail are many but in my experience one ancient business foe is often at the heart of the limited success – expectations.

Many companies have experienced great success over the years and have built impressive, loyal customer bases because they understand what the customers in their industry expect. The fact that demand and expectations are known WITHIN one’s own industry is no trivial matter because this is the field where companies are accustomed to competing. However, when it comes to competing in the digital space customers are no longer expecting that your company’s digital services live up to the standards they have come to expect from you – oh no, they’re expecting your digital services to compete with the best digital solutions out there!

If you’re a bank that delivers top of the line services and as a result have very loyal clients, you might be working on a mobilizing your existing services in the hopes that your customers will embrace these with the same enthusiasm as with your desktop versions. However, while mobilizing existing services may be a good idea, this alone may not live up to the full expectations of your customers – for 3 reasons:

  1. Expectations are becoming “fluid”

The often referenced Consumerization of IT is one aspect of this. In short, this means that the technologies and services utilized to make our everyday lives easier should be matched in quality and usability in our workplace. The second element is the break-down of expectations across industries as described above. While your mobile investment solution may be full of good features, it might not have the personalized functionality that your customers have come to expect from their Travel Agent or Personal planner apps.

And, why don’t we know what our customers are looking for? More often than not it’s because:

  1. You haven’t asked them what they want

There is a tendency, especially for successful long-standing companies, to presume that they know their customers’ expectations and demands – “otherwise we wouldn’t be as successful as we are”. Thanks to the fluid expectations companies simply need to reach out and ask their customers what they want – and be prepared for varying requirements and high needs for making adaptable and customizable solutions. Dialogue is important and it should be supported and followed up by attentiveness.

  1. Keep an eye on your customers and other digital players

This last point is equally important before and after you launch your digital services. Customers can provide much information around what they require based on contemporary and imminent needs but in order to continue to improve your services it is imperative to monitor the usage of your own as well as other leading digital solutions. Henry Ford (supposedly) said, “if you had asked the customers what they wanted, they would have said faster horses” and Steve Jobs’ 21st century version of this was that “it’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Asking your customers what they want will help you deliver on current demands but attentiveness and creative thinking may lead you to solutions that surpass expectations and puts you into the digital driver’s seat.

This post deals with the high level expectations for any corporate digital undertaking. What comes next (or in many cases before) is for companies to consider how to differentiate themselves in the digital space – what novel opportunities do the new platforms present to re-think the value and services (in that order) we bring to our customers? But that’s a story (and post) for another day.

This post is written by Carsten Broens Andersen

Carsten Broens AndersenCarsten works with product development and go-to-market planning for CSC’s Emerging Business Group technologies. With a background in Business Consulting and Business Development, Carsten helps define and shape the next generation of solutions for CSC’s customers.
Carsten is passionate about identifying the areas where deep business and industry know-how merges with various (new) technologies to create unprecedented opportunities.

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