There can sometimes be a big gap between what a customer wants to hear and what they need to hear. As a business, marrying the two ideals is essential to effective communication and making sure clients have clear expectations and an understanding of services provided.
To bridge that gap between assumption and reality, the business needs to figure out how it can compromise to bring the user’s vision closer with what the company offers. Doing this requires understanding what the customer wants, and comparing it to what the company offers. To help with this process, 12 associates of Forbes Communications Council share their methods for bridging the gap between customer expectation and product reality.
1. Help Them See The Bigger Picture
Sometimes consumers just want to hear your product will solve all of their problems, when, in reality, your product may only put them on the path to solve their problems. One way to bridge the gap is to get your consumer to understand the overall goal, asking the right questions to lead them down a path of, “if they do not buy your product nothing is going to change.” – Sarah Lero, Peerless Products Inc
2. Know Them Better Than You Know Yourself
The best way to communicate your message in a way that is understandable and enticing to your audience starts with knowing your customers at best and what makes them different/unique. Make sure you understand how your offering differs in providing them the value they are looking to satisfy their need. – Haseeb Tariq, Fox.com
3. Have The Sales Team Keep Customers Updated
A key strategy for building trust and loyalty is for the front line to keep customers updated and follow up. In the service industry, for example, customers want to know they’re getting what they ordered within an expected time frame. When delays happen, it’s essential to communicate with customers. Tell them, “I haven’t forgotten about you” versus saying nothing. Customers appreciate honesty and transparency. – Stacy Sherman, Schindler Elevator Corporation
4. Be Authentic And True To Your Brand
Authenticity is the bridge to meeting consumer needs and delivering truth to the consumer. This is where and how your brand will stand out and meet a market need not currently being met. If you stay authentic and true to your brand, bridging the gap between what consumers want to hear and what they need to hear is not a gimmick, it’s authentic. – Monica McCafferty, MCM Strategies LLC
5. Take Baby Steps
If a company just tells people that they need to hear instead of want, they will be easily ignored and avoided. It is essential to take baby steps, do a bit of hand-holding and educate your consumers along the way. Instead of just positioning yourself as a thought leader, showcase a human side by appreciating consumer insights, feedback and views, and spreading awareness about best practices. – Preeti Adhikary, Fusemachines Inc.
6. Use Influencers To Bridge The Gap
Consumers want to feel inspired, entertained and connected. That’s why they’re on social media, after all. So it makes sense that influencers have become a medium for passing along brand messages — they’re a non-intrusive form of advertising. Everyday, influencers get the information consumers need to hear across in a way that they want to hear it. – Vivien Garnès, Upfluence Inc.
7. Have A Customer Advisory Board
Customer advisory boards (CABs) are a great way to uncover insights that can guide your messaging. Use your CAB to present your business’s goals and road map while gathering their wants and needs firsthand. Use this to find compromise, then take the outputs and determine what changes you might make. Your results will uncover the right way to craft messages that will resonate with prospects. – Kristi Harrington, PestRoutes
8. Use The ‘Feel, Felt, Found’ Method
In the mortgage industry, we often have to tell people things they need to hear versus what they want. I like the “Feel, Felt, Found” method: “I hear how you feel is [reiterate what they said]. There have been times that I have felt the same way. What I found is, [give a solution to the problem].” They need the solution and this makes it easier for the customer to hear you, because they felt heard first. – Ellicia Romo, Peoples Mortgage Company
9. Stay True To Their Pain(s)
The most meaningful connections a company can make with its consumers are rooted in pain. It’s why they (your consumers) have found you in the first place, so embrace that! That’s why the best ads, campaigns and success stories don’t paint rosy pictures, they paint real ones. Acknowledge your customers’ pains and challenges. What they want (and need) to hear, is that you truly understand theirs. – Yoni Solomon, G2 (formerly G2 Crowd)
10. Dare To Educate
Consumers are people, a.k.a. human beings. Don’t treat them as “consumers of your product.” Once you focus on the benefit of your product, it will sell itself. Genuine marketing and truth in storytelling is driving authentic customer-product feedback loops today. It is a constant conversation. Dare not to fall prey to “consumer wants.” Dare to educate your buyer community on better outcomes. – Yana Nigen, JobDiva
11. Focus On Their Penultimate Goal
What a customer wants to hear is their penultimate goal. The strategist’s job is to outline the path, with goal posts, between. Each goal becomes a mark of progression and, in total, the marketing plan of action that leads to success and attainment of that dream goal — what the customer wanted to hear. – Mollie Barnett, Satco Products, Incorporated
12. Be Suggestive
You owe it to your customers to be blunt, but you also do not want to be so direct as to cause offense. If you sell clothes, you don’t want to insult your customers’ dress. If you sell mints, you don’t want to tell them that their breath stinks. Instead, be suggestive. Focus on the value-add of the product or service, and be direct about how they improve your customers’ lives. – Amine Rahal, Regal Assets