Know the actors and factors in your customers’ world


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The success of a new service is dependent on an organisation’s ability to recognise the complexity of people’s lives. A customer considering a new service proposition is influenced by a complicated web of variables. Opportunities and threats hide in this complexity.

Understanding the wider context of customers’ experience is crucial
Customers do not live in bubbles. Services do not exist in isolation. Customers and businesses exist in a context. Businesses have competitors and partners – people have entire lives. The context in which people make decisions is complicated – but it is the perfect place to understand them and to win them over. This context is mainly influenced by other people and by external pressures: actors and factors.

Actors: Customers do not live in bubbles
Customers live in a web of relationships and they are influenced by them. These relationships may be business networks, like those between different players in a supply chain, or they can be personal, like a family situation. These spheres of influence are so powerful that they even determine what a customer needs.

Sometimes the influence of relationships is obvious – consider the needs of a busy grandmother – but sometimes it is not. In all cases it is crucial to recognise the influence of external actors.

Know the actors and factors  in your customers’ world The effects of obvious factors such as weather are known, but not fully understood. Some sectors temperature and rain affect sales directly.

Businesses live in complex ecologies
Imagine a company that provides products and services into the automotive industry – a business-to-business scenario. This firm’s products and services need to be configured and aligned with all other players in their business context – dealers, insurers, installers and automotive brands. In order to optimise the company’s position in this network, it needs to acknowledge and understand [the influence of] these relationships.

Factors: Customers live in a changing world
The context in which people make decisions is also influenced by factors outside the personal relationships sphere. Regulation, technology and economics are both macro and micro influences on customers that are important to understand.

Know the actors and factors  in your customers’ world It is important to know the actors in the market and where in the customers’ lifecycle they engage and interact with customers.

Multiple factors increase complexity
Consider how technology and government policy are related factors in a industry like public transport. Operators have to respond to the opportunity to adopt new payment technologies but must relate this to government policies on ticket prices. Considering the importance of both factors, the operator can design a more effective ticketing strategy.

Complicated contexts – simple needs
We can understand actors and factors in customers’ lives, but this is not an end in itself. It is only a route to better strategies and services. Often customers are more occupied with their particular actors and factors than with your products and services. If you can help them with these concerns you become more relevant and valued.

Consider an insurance company that only interacts with their corporate clients when they come to renew their policy. If the insurer can help them meet a new regulation or enable a business to enter a new market, they elevate their relevance and value.

See the whole map to know see where to act
Knowing the complicated environment in which your customers live, helps to offer elegant solutions. Actors and factors determine the choices of your customers. Let these influences determine your business decisions too.

Melvin Brand Flu
Melvin Brand Flu is an author, business, and strategy consultant with over 30 years of experience working for startups to global brands and governments. He advises management and leads projects on the cutting edge of business and technical innovation in industries ranging from telecommunication and financial services to the public sector and insurance.


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