When a company truly prioritizes its customers’ needs, it takes its offerings from good to great. It elevates a product into an experience that can both retain existing customers and attract new ones.
In my experience, I’ve found that this customer-centric principle applies regardless of whether you’re manufacturing pincushions or F-16 jets. The challenge is making sure you’re keeping your customers at the center of everything that you do as a brand.
Here are a few tips (along with examples) of ways your brand can go the extra mile to ensure your product selection is meeting customer needs …and creating a better experience in the process.
Align Your Existing Products With the Right Customers
The digitally-driven retail landscape has revolutionized the shopping experience. It cuts out the need for in-person visits to the store and allows a customer to access a much larger quantity of available inventory.
While the online marketplace is a godsend, though, it has its shortcomings. One of the biggest hurdles that I’ve discovered plagues the e-commerce environment is the struggle to connect customer needs with your specific solutions.
You may have fifteen different iterations of a product line that, in theory, make it a nuanced and elite way to address a unique customer problem. But how can each customer discover which of those fifteen options is the solution to their unique problem?
Dungarees is a company that is solving the issue of online shopping by hiring the right people to shepherd customers through the process. The leading retailer of premium workwear brands has built its reputation around being an online retailer with answers.
As its customers shop, purchase gear, and make exchanges and returns, Dungarees ensures that there is a competent and knowledgeable customer service agent ready to support them every step of the way. The brand does this by hiring staffers who don’t just understand the world of work gear. They’ve lived it.
Dungarees employees have worn workwear first-hand. That means they have informed and insightful answers that can help their customers navigate the purchase and support process.
When a customer encounters a transparent, informed, and genuinely helpful lifeline while shopping online, it can dramatically increase the odds that they select a product that meets their needs. This is a simple and powerful way to ensure your products are delivering value at a high level.
Provide Solid Support That Becomes Part of the Experience
I’ve found that despite the consistent attention that customer support has received in recent years, it’s still a chronically undervalued area of business success.
It makes sense why this would be the case. Companies tend to invest in the areas that provide the most obvious value, and in most cases, that’s sales. Once a product is developed, they want to see it moved out of the warehouse in exchange for revenue.
This means investing in sales and marketing initiatives, and don’t get me wrong. That’s an important step. But so is the support that brands provide after that point of sale.
This isn’t just a stage of the customer lifecycle where you can answer questions and process returns. You can continue to help meet customer needs, too. The online pet supply brand Chewy is a great example of how much healthy support can influence a positive customer experience.
The brand has made waves for its exceptional support experience. Along with answering questions, Chewy has a reputation for making powerful gestures to help customers who have recently had a four-legged friend pass away.
They are quick to issue full refunds for unused dog food. They also encourage customers to donate the food to a local shelter rather than ship it back. The cherry on top? They often send flowers to the customer as a sign of support.
Customer support is often seen as a practical lifeline. Clever companies also use it to gather feedback. But only truly innovative brands like Chewy, are using it to enhance the product experience and ensure that their company is meeting their customers’ needs at every turn.
Make Your Product Part of What You Offer
I’m always uncomfortable with companies that offer their products as the only solution to a problem. When I feel cornered by a salesman or marketing pitch, it sends the message that a company prioritizes making money off of me over actually answering my problem.
If you want to ensure that the products you’re developing are meeting customer needs, sometimes it means creating an environment where customers can explore your brand and its offerings for free. In other words, your paid products or services become just one element of what you’re offering consumers.
Reading Eggs is a good example of this concept in action. The educational app is a platform that helps children from toddlers up to 13 years old develop critical educational skills in a gamified and engaging environment.
While you can pay a decent chunk of change to access Reading Eggs, the company doesn’t expect potential customers to go all in before they can experience value. As is often the case with service-based products, they offer a 30-day free trial.
But they don’t stop there. The site also provides a plethora of free resources that anyone can download and use without paying a penny.
This effort to go above and beyond to meet its target audience’s needs sends a key message: Reading Eggs prioritizes providing value for its customers. This helps build a positive aura around the brand and provides an initial impression that encourages satisfied users of the free content to go the extra step and use the paid program.
Aligning Products With Customer Needs
A company should never create products and assume consumers will need them. They must always start with consumers and help align their pain points with the solutions that they offer.
Dungarees is doing this through informed employees who can align existing inventory with each customer’s unique requirements. Chewy is using follow-up support to enhance the quality of each customer experience. Reading Eggs is offering free resources that allow customers to experience their brand before making a purchase decision.
If your company is struggling to align consumers with your products, use these examples to reassess how you’re approaching the problem. Consider who you employ. Be comprehensive with your offerings (including free resources and samples). Integrate your customer service into the experience. These are great ways to ensure you’re meeting customer needs at every step of the customer journey.
Image credit: Ron Lach; Pexels