How is it already December? This is the question that will echo across offices next Monday. The end of 2019 and arrival of 2020 comes into clear view in the last month of the year. For many organizations it is both the arrival of year end and the planning and approval season for next year’s budgets. For others, tied to different fiscal year timelines, it is still a time for evaluation and planning.
There are plenty of guides and articles written about best practices for planning and budgeting, management and business development. However, the simple question we start with every December (and every other month of the year) is:
Do you know your customer?
Can you clearly, and quantitatively, point to:
- Why customers buy products or services from you?
- What customers think about your company vs. direct competitors?
- How customers talk about your company to their own network?
- Who your customer is and who they value within your organization?
- Where your customers are, were, or could be coming from?
These fundamental questions are the tip of the iceberg of the types of questions that are essential to maintaining and growing a customer base today. Whether B2B, B2C, B2G, nonprofit, academic, or really any other field, you have a customer. This is something organizations not strongly sales oriented sometimes lose sight of in the daily mix of decision making.
We remind Metric Centric clients that all customers talk, but not all companies listen.
So in the home stretch of this year, consider how well your organization understands its customers. Are you making decisions based on instinct or meaningful data?
Meaningful data. A phrase that can be defined and refined by organizations in so many ways. We would encourage you to examine the substance behind the data that influences your organizational thinking around your customers. Some questions to ask:
- How old is the data?
- How inclusive is the data set of the actual customer base?
- How was the data gathered?
- How often is the data updated?
- Does the data actually answer the question you are trying to answer?
It might seem odd to factor social media, media coverage, and other online chatter to the mix of data that you consider when thinking about your customers. Yet, customer sentiment and perception is being shared and shaped online every day.
Think of December not just as a time where you remember to send your customers holiday cards and gift baskets, but also the month where you really start listening to what they are saying.
You may hear something that can give you foresight for 2020.