Times they are a Changin’

 

I was and remain a big Bob Dylan fan — especially the early folk-blues music that seemed to leap from his pen directly to my brain. He just has a way of expressing things uniquely. I say this only to realize that even when it comes to today’s customers, Dylan was right — The Times They are a Changin’. People’s needs and shopping motivations are switching. We’ve seen the switch coming for a time (books like Experience Economy, the Starbucks phenomenon, etc.), but now it seems to be picking up some more steam.

Seth Godin’s blog article today highlighted the change. He blogs that customer’s wants are shifting from "perfect", "now" and "cheap" to "interaction", "expectations exceeded" and "respect."

Think of your own recent visits to brick and mortar or on-line retail. What has been your expectations? Always price? Or, do you shop places that give you interaction and exceed your expectations? Recently my wife pulled me into Chico’s, a women’s clothing store. It’s truly an interesting experience to watch my usually bargain-hunting shopper melt as the well-trained Chico’s staff help her interact, respect her and exceed her expectations. She’s now a raving fan and never once asked about price, now or perfection.

So what does this shift in customer motivation mean?

  1. If you are competing on price you need to find a better strategy. Anybody can beat your price and relegate you to irrelevant in your market. It is better to examine the shopping experience you offer your shopper and make changes today to exceed expectations – especially in the little things.
  2. Look for ways to interact with your customers. We just pulled together 11 leaders and talked to them about our products. They left our two days very happy. Why? because we asked them for their input, we respected their opinions and we are going to not only make some changes, but allow them to "play in our creative sandbox" and help us develop better products. They feel a part of the process.
  3. Exceed expectations. You don’t have to go far to find companies who easily exceed your expectations – and conversely you don’t need to go far to find ones that don’t that you quickly dismiss from your list of places to shop. Companies like Apple, Nike and Chico’s go out of their way to exceed customer’s expectations. Model their efforts as you build your business for the changing mind of the consumer.

The answers are not "Blowing in the Wind", the answers, my friends, are really right there in front of you, within your vision, within your control and within reach. Go for the customer’s heart – Don’t think twice, it’s all right.

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Trust is the winsome wedding of faith and hope.

Brennan Manning

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