Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Customer aspiration based service design

When Henry Ford was asked if customers’ desires had anything to do with his path breaking Ford Model T, he had this to say, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Understanding that latent needs of a customer, which strongly revolves around a deep seated aspiration, can sometimes be the key to a product innovation, it can also be the building block of your organization’s service design.

When a customer walks into a BMW showroom, there are certain aspirations that are attached with a decision to walk in there. From the moment she walks in, she needs to see those aspirations getting fulfilled. Right from the first greeting, to the first question on what she wants. There can’t be questions of budgets and mileage. The questions need to come from the customer and possibly you will see an aspiration being realized. Creating a service design around this understanding of a customer, needs to be all pervasive from the way the salesmen deal with her, to the way billing and post sales is handled. The aspiration remains and possibly grows along with the ownership of the product. These aspirations are not attached only to luxury brands. Even mid market brands evoke aspiration among customers who may find such brands the pinnacle of their current stature and success. Working around these thoughts becomes a challenge as they are not that straightforward, yet, they do exist and discovering them lies in observing customer behavior. Customers tend to ask certain questions, get irked by some objections and are satisfied with specific features. In all these observations, lie the answers to what your customer is aspiring to become. Use those data points to build your service roadmap and watch customers enjoy the treatment in the way their purchasing behavior changes. Therein lies your organization’s reward for going that extra mile.

Customer aspiration has always driven many innovations, from a bulb to a Tata Nano. It wasn’t rocket science that built these products. They all were conceived by men and women who belonged to completely different aspiration levels. Breaking through the clutter of customer data and models, lies the simple art of deduction, of what your customer aspires to be, once she has used your brand. Let’s get started harnessing that power!