At the start of every year, the consumer intelligence company Brandwatch asks people about their New Year’s Resolutions.
In 2018, these were the top three resolutions:
In 2019, these were the top three:
So you probably won’t be surprised to know that at the start of 2020 (remember, this was before the pandemic hit!), the top three were again exactly the same:
But a year later, after almost a year of the world’s first global pandemic in a century, the priorities had changed:
Now, it doesn’t really matter what the actual priorities were. The point is they had changed.
A crisis changes our priorities, and we start re-assessing what really matters. This is true both in our personal lives and our professional lives.
The same applies to your customers!
You might think you know what your customers want, and you might think you’re still doing a good job of giving them what they want.
But are you sure?
And … How do you know?
The best businesses are always thinking of their customers, their problems (or goals), and how to solve those problems.
They regularly ask two key questions.
Think of a startup company that’s set its sights on ‘disrupting’ existing businesses in an industry. Those startup entrepreneurs ask two key questions:
- Who are our ideal customers?
- How can we solve a problem they have right now?
You should also ask the same questions!
And don’t be surprised if the answers are different now, because COVID-19 might have changed your market.
Here are two examples.
Early in the pandemic, when the travel industry ground to a halt because nobody was travelling, one Swedish hotel, Stadt, in the town Lidkoping, lost all of its customers. But rather than leaving their rooms empty, the manager asked the ‘Who are our ideal customers?’ question, and realised they had a service to offer to a different set of customers: local residents. They turned their empty hotel rooms into private dining suites, which they offered to locals who wanted to eat out in a safe, socially-distanced way.
As another example, when COVID-19 virtually shut down the airline industry, Singapore Airlines – like most other airlines – grounded most of its fleet. The airline asked the ‘How can we solve a customer problem?’ question, and realised one segment of its customers – the high-end first-class passengers – wanted a luxury experience, not just a means of transport. So they offered a first-class premium dining experience at home. For $900, a chef comes to your house and cooks a meal for two, served on Wedgwood china, and complete with fine wines and Dom Perignon champagne.
How does this affect YOUR business?
Those examples were innovative ideas from businesses who were hard-hit by the pandemic, and had to find ways to survive. But we should all be applying that kind of thinking – all the time.
You might think you know your customers, their problems, and how you solve them. But if you haven’t taken the time to re-examine these questions recently, you don’t. And if in doubt, ask them!