Business strategist and New York Times best-selling author Fred Wiersema presents his latest insights and advice on achieving customer intimacy in a series of new, practical, digital-only guides. This one focuses on the critical importance of identifying your customers' true problem. Chances are, it's not what you - or they - think. But it's vital if you want to keep customers coming back, especially in these tough economic times.
It was a rotting old fence around the author's swimming pool that drove home the power of deeply analyzing customer problems. "I thought a traditional white picket fence would be perfect to replace it," he says. "The first two contractors made their measurements, discussed the materials, calculated, and gave me prices. But the third surprised me: 'Why do you want a white fence? Have you ever thought about black?' He explained that a black fence would blend into the background, making the surrounding area more visible, while a white fence would make the pool area more intimate and enclosed. My wife and I had never thought about that. Next, he asked why we were replacing the old fence. I thought it was obvious: It was falling apart and needed to be repainted every few years. 'Have you considered an anodized aluminum fence? It would last pretty much forever,' he said. That clinched the deal: He'd offered a better answer for needs we didn't even realize we had."