What Your Customers Want … Right Now!

Mechanical shop, collision repair, A/C, muffler, tires … it really doesn’t matter. Today, you need to rethink how you think about your customers.

Not just according to who they are anymore – by the demographics – but rather, according to how they think. What they care about most. And to look way beyond the narrow boundaries of what you sell them for clues about how to touch them in ways that are important to them and that others don’t.

Here’s the logic:

Twenty years ago, we could segment customers into homogenous groups of buyers by demographics. We could pretty much understand what it would take to win their business according to correlations between their past buying behaviors and things like age, income, where they lived, family, prior purchasing preferences, ethnicity, etc.

But the Internet is making that kind of inferential logic obsolete.

Customers now enjoy immediate access to everything they want to know about virtually everything they want to buy, on their own. Which means that nearly everything we do has become a commodity – whereby what consumers seek to buy is available from multiple sources on roughly comparable terms.

As a result, peoples’ buying calculus is shifting from features/function/price to higher order criteria … to a desire to “gift” their purchases to businesses that align with things they care about most in other aspects of their lives. For example, recent research finds that 90 percent of consumers, when faced with roughly comparable purchase options, will choose the one that lines up best with something else they care a lot about …
completely unrelated to the functions/features/price of what they are buying. Frequently cited determinants of purchasing decisions now include things like: they were nice to my kids, they support a cause I admire, they went beyond what they needed to do, they called to see if I am still happy with my purchase, or even, the coffee was great!

As a result, people who today look identical in all demographic respects are likely to be as different from one another as a skinhead and a priest … in terms of what they care about and, therefore, who they want to do business with, and why.

Understanding what people care about most is now your most solid beachhead for building loyal and enduring customer champions.

Nearly a decade ago at the outset of my tenure as CEO at Carstar, we started thinking this way. We soon recognized that our customers were mostly women. Who didn’t know much or care much about the details of collision repair. And who were scared about: How am I going to get my kids to school? get groceries? get to work? Am I going to be taken advantage of by my insurer?

This new understanding led us to change our tagline, along with every other aspect of our business, from: Quality Collision Repair to Relax, we’ll take it from here!

Our revenues soared! And so did the spirits of our entire organization! It’s fun to amaze your customers.

So, try it. Spend time refreshing your understanding of what your customers care about most. Show them that you care about the same things. Things that may be related only tangentially to what you actually sell them. Or not at all. And start adjusting your business to match those things.

My bet is that you’ll start seeing the kinds of things we saw. Maybe driving your business in ways you’d never imagined before. Which is the gateway to equally unimaginable results.

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