Understanding Customer Needs

Understanding your customers needs takes place as part of the Market Model.  

Understanding Customer Needs

It’s the next step down once you’ve defined your demographics. Some marketers use the phrase “job” as a way of describing the needs or underlying motivations of the customer.

You see many businesses are focused on the product or service and are only looking at the superficial levels of any transaction. To truly add value and satisfy your customer, you need to go deeper and understand the need. There’s a great YouTube video of Clayton Christensen discussing this in the link below:

Understanding the Job

The example given is that of a fast food company that wants to sell more milk shakes and embarks on a series of customer interviews designed to improve their product. So, the interviews were structured around the product, inviting people to answer questions about taste, price etc. The company went back and produced a better product but hey ho, sales did not improve.

After employing a specialist marketing consultancy to come in and observe behavior’s, they realised that half of milkshake sales happened before 8am in the morning. So, the following day the consultancy came back and questioned those customers about why they decided to go there and buy milk shakes at that time.

After analysing the responses, it was surprising to discover that they all had one thing in common – a lengthy and boring drive to work.

The job / need being satisfied was one of making the trip more pleasant by occupying one’s time.

Of the things they could have bought to make their journeys less boring where items such as bananas, bagels, chocolate but these all had draw backs. For instance, bananas lasted only a few minutes and they were hungry soon after; Bagels too filling and chocolate left them feeling guilty. Milk shake was the best choice because they could make it last up to 20 minutes, it was healthy enough not to feel guilty and it sat in the stomach long enough to interfere with bites later in the day.

So, how we would we go about understanding the job?

Here’s how.

  • Identify the specific demographic you want to explore further. In the case above it was milk shake purchasers
  • Engage those customers in a dialogue about the need. Structure these questions around a set of open and closed questions so you get to understand the conditions under which the need is satisfied, the triggers, the emotional states and what alternatives there are.
  • Explore what good and bad looks like. Not just for your product but all the alternatives

A useful product to use in a workshop setting is an Empathy Relationship Map, example below

The above example was completed with a popular members club in North London who wanted to attract younger ladies into its establishment.

A series of workshops with the 42 – 50-year-old demographic identified the need to socialise with other like-minded women in the area. The underlying need for these women was to feel a sense of belonging and connection. They needed an environment that was safe and supportive and that allowed them to feel comfortable.

As we talked further about the club, we discovered that they would not frequent it because, in their opinion, a small number of members dominated the club and were obsessed with football, sometimes drunken, loud and intimidating. Women often chose the alternatives of the local café’s because they were safe and clean. However, the cafés were often too small for a larger group and limited to tea and coffee and were they were not encouraged to stay.

The information gathered from the above map was translated into a Needs Analysis for that demographic.

And from this you can design and price your product.

Business Blueprints

Today we’re going to talk about business blueprinting, which is in the domain of Business Architecture.

A blueprint is effectively a specific view of the business. The total collection of blueprints describes your business model.

Business blueprints are like a set of Architect’s drawings or a General’s battle maps. Generals use battle maps to show terrain, enemy positions or troops deployments. Business Strategists use business blueprints to show product positioning, organisational structures, capabilities and value generation processes.

At Rubik’s Cube we concentrate on a core set of blueprints as follows.

Market Blueprint

This blueprint focuses on understanding the demographics within your marketplace. It also details the customers core needs that require satisfying and which products and services satisfy that need at a detailed level

Service / Product Model

This blueprint provides details of products and services that your business supplies to its customers, at which location and at what price and in which volumes. It also list the particular attributes designed to appeal to the needs of the demographic

Process Model

This blueprint shows how value is generated in a series of Value Chains. Typical Value Chains include Marketing, Promotion, Sales, Operations. This model often also includes more detailed process maps

Capability Model

This blueprint provides a map of all the business capabilities. For instance, a business maybe capable of building a product to a specification in a set volume within a time period

Organisational Model

This blueprint is the view of the overall organisation including internal staff, suppliers, partners and any other stakeholders (investors for instance)

Information Model

Information is central to all businesses these days. This model builds a picture of the information requirements of the business. This could include sales reports or Search Engine Analytics

Technology Model

This blueprint includes all those technologies used by the organisation and customers within a given service or process

The Whole Is Greater than the Sum of the Parts

These products should be reviewed regularly by any business leader when reviewing strategy. They are great tools for assessing the impact of any strategy; They are great tools for building out a road map for implementation; They are great tools for understanding the cost of strategy at a more granular level.

These products are not designed to be used in isolation but support each other by providing inputs and outputs to each other

An example on how these come together is as follows.

The board of the Company X are aware that the latest trends show the emergence of a new product that’s being heavily promoted and gaining a lot of excitement in the market place. As a result, they agree a change in strategy and to re-position the company

The leadership team look at the Market Blueprint to see which demographics being served are affected by the new product. It identifies the Millennial demographic who are moving in the direction of this product because it serves X and Y purposes

The leadership team then look at the Product / Service Blueprint and see which products are in direct competition with the new product and identifies which particular attributes are better or worse than the competition.

After a number of workshops with the product specialists, the leadership team come back with a number of options for the board which include altering the existing product serving that demographic BUT at a specific cost or terminate the existing product and serve another demographic.

The board accept the recommendation to alter the existing product. The leadership team then looks at the process model to see which particular processes are affected by the new product. It concludes that Product Design, Manufacture and Promotion are key processes that will need to be reviewed.

On looking at the Capability Model for those capabilities used within the identified processes the team realize that they don’t have the key tools and skills to design and manufacture the new product.

The Organisation Model must then be updated to show which supplier can best complete the Design and Manufacture and the who will be responsible for overseeing supplier delivery.

The Technology Model also identifies that promotion requires a change in the method of advertising.

Out of these insight’s, one can then generate a plan.

We’ll come onto each one in the next set of blogs

What is Business Architecture?

Below is an extract from Wikipedia and based on the definition formulated by the Business Architecture Working Group of the Object Management Group (OMG) (2010)

It describes Business Architecture as “a blueprint of the enterprise that provides a common understanding of the organization and is used to align strategic objectives and tactical demands.” According to the Open Management Group, a blueprint  describes “the structure of the enterprise in terms of its governance structure, business processes, and business information.”

As such, the profession of business architecture primarily focuses on the motivational, operational, and analysis frameworks that link these aspects of the enterprise together.

The key characteristic of business architecture is that it represents real world aspects of a business, along with how these aspects interact. It is focused on defining and analysing what a business does, how it does it, how it is organized, and how it realizes value.

It is used to design competitive structures and processes, leverage existing strengths, and identify potential investment opportunities that advance the business’s objectives and drive innovation. Products of this business architecture efforts are used to develop plans, make business decisions and guide their implementations.

Feel free to complete our free business model assessment if you want an insight into how you’re managing your business strategy