What CEO doesn’t want a sharper understanding of how his/her organisation is performing? Surviving and thriving in today’s competitive markets takes intelligence and the will to act. We believe there are two particular “killer insights” CEOs need — (1) knowing how your company stands in addressing its customers’ needs and (2) understanding how your firm measures up against the wider market of competitors. This may sound simple, even simplistic. In practice though, those insights can be elusive. The key to addressing both questions lies in starting with your customer and using customer conversations as your focal point.
Where does your organisation stand with its customers?
Addressing customers’ needs is paramount to keeping existing customers happy, winning new customers and ultimately growing revenue. Putting that into practice first assumes that your organisation has the killer insight into what customers truly want. What do your customers expect? We see a number of companies, even large global brands, bypass getting to the core of what customers want in favour of more generic customer satisfaction surveys and net promoter scores. Yet those tools rarely go deep enough to provide much needed intelligence. Years and years ago, Customer Research Thought Leader and Promising Outcomes Co-Founder, Bill Fonvielle, saw this gap. Executives were buying into satisfaction as the metric to track. To get to the core of what customers expect, Fonvielle formulated another approach – why not simply ask customers to articulate their expectations. Those expectations then would become the basis of that killer intelligence for companies, helping them move beyond generic satisfaction to more customer relevant and actionable insight. Once you’ve got that expectation, more likely a series of expectations, you can determine how customers see you as performing against those expectations. Learn more about customer expectations analysis.
How you measure up against your competitors?
The second part of the CEO puzzle is competitive positioning. How do you position your company to outcompete competitors? For the purposes of this discussion, we’ll assume you know who those competitors are. It’s not unusual for companies to go to elaborate lengths to research competitors, even sponsoring pricy competitive research efforts. When we were operating executives, we did and those reports provided useful data, but only up to a point. A lot of those competitive reports aren’t yoked to the customer. Promising Outcomes’ approach is somewhat different. Rather than order up generic customer research, Promising Outcomes recommends asking customers how they see competitors compared to your organisation. Getting the customers’ assessment of your competitor, and tying it to specific expectations amplifies the power of that data. For example, what if you had a visual representation of the customers’ expectation, “provide more transparent pricing?” Picture a “Zones of Tolerance” graphic like the one in Figure 1. Based on our research, the box shows the limits within which your customers require you to operate. The blue circle is your firm. The orange circle is your competitor. Going back to the expectation, we can see, in this example, that your customers view your performance as being below both the bounds within which they want you to operate, and where your competitor is perceived to operate. The resulting picture reveals both a performance and competitive threat. While concerning, having this insight enables you to take action. That is definitely “killer insight!”