Creating customer understanding

Customer understanding: are you getting an outside-in perspective?

One of the 3 foundations of customer centricity is a strong understanding of your target customers. This customer understanding is about more than analysing data. It’s about combining science with the art of customer empathy. An empathy that comes from getting out to see the world through your customers eyes.

The Morrisons approach to customer understanding

A great example of an outside-in approach to insight comes from the supermarket chain Morrisons. In a recent interview with Marketing Week, Morrisons’ group marketing and customer director Andy Atkinson described their approach this way.

“We now listen to 5,000 customers a week and they give us feedback on absolutely everything. Once a month I now go shopping with a customer. I spend two hours just walking around one of our stores and living their shopping trip at Morrisons.”

One outcome of this customer understanding was the decision to scrap the price matching element of their loyalty card. Atkinson explained “the reason why I made the decision to change the card was customers had no idea how the thing even worked. We would explain it in the simplest terms and it was still too confusing.”

3 opportunities for sports organisations to boost customer-centricity

This approach highlights 3 interesting challenges for sports organisations. To grasp the future success that will come from responding to customer’s changing expectations, they should:

Get feedback on absolutely everything

Customer-centric organisations make feedback a constant source of insight. They go well beyond annual surveys or waiting for customer complaints. Feedback, good and bad, is something to be encouraged and embraced. As a result they make it very easy for customers to provide feedback about anything.

Spend time with customers

Many people within sports organisations have grown up within a sport. This creates both advantages and disadvantages. The potential risk is that they assume they understand the perspective and experience of current customers. A way to mitigate this risk is to experience the process through the eyes of new customers. Following their experiences of finding, signing-up and having a go will provide a fresh perspective on how these experiences should be designed.

Don’t blame the customers if they don’t understand

Given the legacy and heritage of some sports and formats, it can be tempting to assume that ‘customers need to learn how to do things our way, because we’ve always done it this way’. But customer-centricity requires a different mindset. Formats and communications need to evolve and become easier for current and potential customers to engage with. If it’s too hard to understand, many first time customers may never come back.

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