THE THREE CUSTOMER MOTIVATIONS: PART TWO

In addition to attention, one of the three motivators that we all share as customers is an expectation of brand competency. We expect providers of products or services to be competent both in creating and delivering whatever it is we’re buying.

Beginning with the design and engineering that goes into a product and continuing with how it is delivered, we expect a level of reliability and quality that reflects the provider’s competency. From the person making the sale to the delivery person handing us the product to the person on the phone (or online) helping fix a problem, we expect competency.

If we purchase using an automated or technology-based process, such as a website or telephone-based system, we expect that system to be designed in a customer-oriented and competent manner, allowing us to be successful.

Business competency affects customers perceptions of their own competency

A customer’s trust in the provider’s competency and the quality of a product or service is a direct reflection of the customer’s competency in making the decision to buy a particular product or service.

When customers make a good decision, they feel competent and conclude that they made the right choice. When customers feel they made a bad choice or decision, they feel incompetent. They then experience the anxiety that accompanies the embarrassment of making the wrong choice. The customer may even feel stupid, which is not a good outcome for anyone.

For the customer, status relates to competence.

The example of BMW

BMW is considered one of the most competent engineering companies in the world. BMW does not sell a car. It sells the “ultimate driving machine.”

The intention is to communicate that a BMW, through advanced engineering and design and the quality embedded in its manufacture, goes far beyond the expectations of other cars. It is much better than the average car.

To the customer, this easily translates to, “I am not your average guy.”

First, being able to afford a BMW demonstrates the owners’ competence. Second, ownership shows they are smart enough to know and drive a great car. Third, they are able to drive such a high-performing machine properly because they are competent drivers.

Drivers of BMWs often argue emotionally in support of BMW’s quality and craftsmanship and, thus indirectly, in support of their own competency.

When the expected competency is not provided, customers are naturally disappointed and resent the provider for letting them down.

We question whether we were incompetent in making the buying decision. We make comparisons about the quality, appearance, and associated pricing because we want to get the best value for our dollar. Making the best value for our dollar makes us feel competent and in control. If we are fooled or make a bad decision, we no longer feel competent. That is why we strive for predictable outcomes.

Every product or service must reach a bar that represents the level of competency that the customer expects. It is a source of trust between the business and its customers. Brand competency shows up in quality, know-how, expertise, reliability, sound advice, customer service, and durability.

All businesses must pay attention to competency as a motivator and always strive to meet that expectation. In order for them to feel competent, customers need to feel secure and trust in your competency. It is often at the center of why they are choosing to spend their money with you.

 

Edgar Papke is the co-author of Innovation By Design and author of True Alignment and The Elephant In The Boardroom. He helps leaders and their organizations align to create greater levels of innovation, performance, and fulfillment. He can be reached by email: edgar@edgarpapke.com

THE THREE CUSTOMER MOTIVATIONS: PART ONE

One of the three motivators that we all share as customers is attention.  

Attention fulfills our need to feel important and supports our desire to know that we count. The opposite is to feel ignored, which customers interpret as they don’t matter and are not valued. This is a powerful force and, as with most emotional responses, is immediate.

Think about the last time you called for customer service and went through several telephone prompts before you got a person on the phone. Like me, you probably tried to outsmart the recording by saying “customer rep,” “agent,” “customer service,” or by pressing “0,” “9,” or “1,” only to find yourself back at the main menu.

It doesn’t take much for this to make us anxious, upset, or angry. It’s hard for even the greatest of brands and businesses to recover from ignoring the customer.

Mutual Respect and Attention

In our relationships to one another, the first indicator of mutual respect is whether one person shows an interest in the other.

I define mutual respect as people treating one another in the manner in which they want to be treated. This is not possible unless each person is willing to pay attention and listen to the other.

The focus on attention is the key to the brand strength of Lands’ End and defines its customer service. Until the latter part of 2012, when it first incorporated a voice prompt system, customer calls were answered at any time of the day or night within two rings. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, you found yourself talking to real person, not an automated system of multiple menus.

The speed with which the company connected by telephone, and now online chat, is vital to how its customers interpret the value of its products. This focus on customer attention is Lands’ End’s passion and shows up in every facet of the organization. Many businesses can sell you a quality shirt. It is how Lands’ End does it that makes the difference. By paying attention and thereby making the customer feel important, Lands’ End separates itself from its competition.

Many powerful and successful brands now motivate customers by paying attention to them.

Think about Facebook, YouTube, and the host of providers of social media. Being “social” is engaging in giving and receiving attention from one another. In light of our current demographics, this is a powerful force. Whether a business is large or small, demographics should not be overlooked when defining brand strategy.

Demographics support the significance of attention

As we move through the second decade of the twenty-first century, the baby boomer generation is the largest group in our economy and workforce. In the United States, there are 76 to 80 million people in this generation.

The second largest group is the Echo or Millennium generation, also known as Generation Y or the New Millennials—the children of the baby boomers. Born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, this group is 72 to 75 million (U.S.) strong. Its members grew up with the new technology and have come to rely on it, spending endless amounts of time using it.

Depending on the study, sociologists claim that 35 to 45 percent of the formative years of New Millennials were spent alone in front of computer screens, televisions, and video games. As a result, they crave attention. As they moved through adolescence and entered adulthood as consumers, this need became a major influence—one well worth business leaders’ attention (no pun intended).

The generation immediately before them, Generation X, includes approximately 49 to 51 million (U.S.) people born between the mid 1960s and early 1980s. This is a much smaller group, often referred to as the ignored generation. When it comes to technology and need for attention, this group shares many of the characteristics of the GenYers.

In addition to explaining why social media has become such a global force and phenomenal marketing tool, the demographic data demonstrates how powerful attention is to businesses. There’s a significant benefit to understanding its part in the emotional attractiveness of a product or service. And how it can be leveraged through a company’s product or service and brand intention.

Attention is a key to building successful customer relationships. 

Customer attention is the cornerstone and foundation for many great brands and the intention of their products or services.

The importance of attention is not limited to large businesses. Like Disney, Harley-Davidson, and Lands’ End, even the smallest business can leverage attention as a key value and source of motivation.

 

Edgar Papke is the co-author of Innovation By Design and author of True Alignment and The Elephant In The Boardroom. He helps leaders and their organizations align to create greater levels of innovation, performance, and fulfillment. He can be reached by email: edgar@edgarpapke.com

TO KNOW OUR CUSTOMER IS TO KNOW OUR BUSINESS

What separates market leaders from their competitors? What makes your product or service different from the rest?

Although a number of factors are important, the one that matters most is the answer to:

“Why is the customer spending money with us rather than with our competitors?”

At the center of every great market strategy is the ability to clearly communicate and then consistently deliver what the customer is paying for regardless of the product or service, regardless of market complexity or size. This is what motivates the customer.

It is the difference between those companies that become market leaders and those that struggle to get and sustain customer attention. Whether competing in a small local market or on the global stage, such clarity and relentless pursuit of customers results in successful brand identities. They are the household names and trusted brands of the most sought after products or services.

Often, they assume legendary status.

Brand Clarity is the Key

Brand clarity and what it represents to customers are key to any business’s success. However, this is where companies often fall short and is the core reason why customers are not attracted to a particular product or service.

A lack of clarity also has an impact on employees, who are expected to successfully meet customer needs. It can also cause confusion and misalignment within organizations. This can create unnecessary and unproductive conflicts that inevitably erect barriers to performance. This results in:

  • imprecisely defined and interdependent strategies and goals,
  • anger pointing for performance failures, and
  • a lack of commitment and accountability.

It’s hard to create success when we’re not clear and aligned on what we’re selling to the customer.

To appreciate the extraordinary power of brand intention, we must understand more about why and how we buy what is being offered.

The what and the how are factored into the customer’s perception of the intention of the provider, yet neither would be necessary without first understanding why people buy.

In today’s ongoing battle to provide more and more to the customer and to increase value, products and services have grown enormously complex. Have you ever asked yourself “What am I really buying?” You probably have and can relate to the confusion.

In the blur of rapid improvements and accelerated changes, customers can quickly be confused by the number of options. Often, customers define success as the ability to select and buy more easily—to readily identify what they are looking for, to experience fewer complications, and actually get what they’re paying for.

Customer Motivation

To understand how a customer determines the true value of a product or service is to understand why we are motivated to buy a product or
service in the first place. The answer is simple—and powerful:

We buy products or services to fulfill our human wants and needs; that is, to make ourselves feel good.

This most basic of human motivations lies at the core of consumerism, including business-to-business transactions.

Beginning in the late the 1950s, Will Schutz, a research psychologist, presented a very powerful and simple explanation of human behavior and interaction known as FIRO (Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation) theory. In 1952, Schutz was asked by the U.S. Navy to determine how teams of men could better work together to make better decisions. The intent was to improve team performance, particularly under pressure. Schutz theorized that all of our behavior and interaction is motivated by three fundamental desires to feel

  1. important;
  2. competent;
  3. accepted.

A powerful framework for understanding customer motivation

What Schutz probably didn’t see was that the profound understanding of human behavior he developed would provide a powerful framework for understanding:

  • why customers buy what they do in the way they do,
  • what they are seeking for themselves and their individual sense of fulfillment, and
  • how products or services are offered.

Schutz’s FIRO theory can also be used to better understand the what, why, and how of branding, marketing, selling, and product or service
delivery. It allows us to interpret why customers react to products or services with a range of responses from euphoria and joy to disappointment, anger and despair. It’s all about whether customers feel fulfilled by what they purchased.

As customers, the three sources of human motivation are consistent with how we react in other situations. It’s easy to underestimate the value of a customer’s experience and the power of our desires. When our needs are met, we typically feel good. When they are not met, we quickly become disappointed and angry.

meeting customer needs

As marketers, we should try never to overlook the human component of what makes the customer experience so powerful. We should try to always consider what motivates us as customers and respond to the three motivations that we all share. In no order of importance, customers want: attention, competency, and caring.

 

 

Edgar Papke is the co-author of Innovation By Design and author of True Alignment and The Elephant In The Boardroom. He helps leaders and their organizations align to create greater levels of innovation, performance, and fulfillment. He can be reached by email: edgar@edgarpapke.com

WE LIKE WINNING

We all engage in business. Every day, we take part in business. It may not be obvious, yet from the moment we wake, we are consumers — by turning on a light; running water; dressing; eating breakfast; gassing up the car; stopping for coffee; and, of course, texting and emailing. Throughout the day, you engage in activities that contribute to the creation and delivery of a product or service.

The more a product or service fulfills a need, the more we are attracted to it. The greater our attraction is, the stronger the offering. The stronger the offering, the more powerful the brand. The more powerful the brand, the
more value the product or service has.

Why are you in business? 

I often ask audiences, “Why are you in business? What is it you’re trying to do?” The most frequent and confident response is, “To make money!”

That’s not a wrong answer. There’s a great deal of truth in it. After all, one of the measures of business success is profit. Profit is part of the endgame; the scorecard. Making money is the measuring stick of capitalism.

In my view, the purpose of a business, regardless of the product or service and whether it’s a for-profit or not-for-profit enterprise, is to win the customer. That’s what business is all about.

I then ask, “What do you offer the customer that allows you to be successful and make money?” Answers include:

  • “Superior customer service!”
  • “Added value!”
  • “A product our customer can depend on!”
  • “We give them quality!”
  • “I offer them something they can’t get anywhere else!”
  • “We provide expertise!”
  • “A wide selection of options and choices!”
  • “We give our customers peace of mind!”
  • “To bring value to people’s lives!”
  • “We provide solutions!”
  • “Helping our customers reach their goals!”

It’s interesting when members of the same team give different answers. If there’s going to be misalignment among members of a group and a conflict over who is right and who is wrong, this is where it starts.

Winning the customer

Winning the customer is the result of delivering a product or service in a way that motivates the customer to buy it.

They choose to spend their money on your offering rather than on someone else’s—your competitor. Competition is a key driver and motivator of business. The foundation of our capitalist system is our shared desire to compete. The winners reap the benefits, so it is natural that we compete to win.

When a customer pays enough for your product or service to make a profit, you can invest that profit to increase your ability to win and build your business to win even more.

Winning isn’t our only motivation; several others contribute to our propensity to participate, including the social benefit we create and deliver.

A powerful aspect of an organization’s alignment resides in what is being created and delivered. Behind every product or service there is a purpose—a reason why the product or service has value. Finally, there is how the product is created and delivered to the customer.

These three are the centerpiece for what it takes to win in business, and together they provide the foundation for how the four elements of the Business Code, the customer, brand intention, culture and leadership, come together. In my book, True Alignment, we’ll explore how these forces influence the cultures of our teams and organizations, engage us in our leadership preferences, and result in the consistent thinking and behavior business demands.

 

Edgar Papke is the co-author of Innovation By Design and author of True Alignment and The Elephant In The Boardroom. He helps leaders and their organizations align to create greater levels of innovation, performance, and fulfillment. He can be reached by email: edgar@edgarpapke.com