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Understanding Customers and Learning from…Apple??

Customers increasingly expect everything online (and everything, really) to “just work.”

Sitting at the latest Search Insider Summit [1] conference in Florida, I realized how many times I’ve heard that in the last year. Customers now expect everything online to simply work, but the expectation is more than mere function. Everything online also needs to be “easy” and “focused on my immediate need/mood” and “tailored to who I am.”

This intuitiveness is the expectation of the coming wave of digital natives. This expectation will influence the work of earlier generations and dethrone, if not outright destroy, companies that don’t build this into their DNA.

The challenge is that the client/agency discussion often leaves something out – the customer. This is what digital marketers can learn from Apple.

Three-Legged Stools:  Working Better than Two Since… Forever

All too often, clients and agencies get so engrossed in the conversation about customers that they forget that it’s the customers that know themselves best. Let’s take a look

  1. Customer Perception: We know the customers best, we talk to them and they buy our goods/services.
  2. Posture: Look at all the things we do!
  3. POV: “Business Unit”
  4. Company Metaphor: Yahoo
  1. Customer Perception: We know the customers best – we can measure behavior and improve efficiency metrics in how they engage with the goods/services!
  2. Posture: Look at how we are moving the needle.
  3. POV: “Distribution Channel”
  4. Company Metaphor: Google
  1. Customer Perception: We know ourselves best – this is how we want to do it.
  2. Posture: Wouldn’t it be cool if I could do it “this way.”
  3. POV: “What I Want Now”
  4. Company Metaphor: Apple

Don’t miss the boat on all three perspectives…

The Solution – Step Back and Re-Segment, Re-Energize and Re-Focus on Customers and User Intent

I think this is where Apple gets it right. They provide products that customers want, products that solve problems. Here are some ways to frame the dialogue on customers:

The Takeaway: Learn from Apple and start paying real attention to customers.

Do the things that work but also start investing in “real testing” in defining your customers and bringing the best content and the best solution to the front of the user experience.