Why you should accurately anticipate your customers’ needs

Updated on 31 August 2016

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Future-proof your business by accurately anticipating your customers' need
customer concept in financial chart

It’s not enough to give customers what they want today, the business owners that will find success in today’s increasingly competitive market will be those that master the ability to also anticipate the future needs of their customers.

This is a delicate balance and one that is becoming increasingly important, says Veroshen Naidoo, from Business Partners Limited, a risk financier for SMEs.

The ‘cost of money’ has increased along with interest rates which means customers are finding themselves with less spending power, says Naidoo. This increased price sensitivity among customers makes it increasingly difficult for businesses to keep and satisfy their customers, he adds.

However, business owners shouldn’t give up just yet, says Naidoo. Building ongoing customer loyalty comes down to two key actions: having a complete understanding of your customer needs today as well as keeping abreast of market trends.

1. Know YOUR customer

How well you are able to articulate your customers’ needs will determine how well you are able to cater for them, so go out and get to know your customers, is Naidoo’s message.

How to achieve this: 

Surveys: “To gauge customer’s requirements and [for] honest feedback, entrepreneurs should conduct surveys and regularly interact with their customers in order to get a thorough understanding.”

Face-to-face meetings: Another strategy that works well, particularly with more valued (and bigger) clients is to arrange to meet with them face-to-face.

“Get to know them over a coffee meeting or something similar. This will provide a feeling of intimacy between client and entrepreneur. This will also enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty,” he adds.

“To gauge customer’s requirements and honest feedback, entrepreneurs should conduct surveys and regularly interact with their customers in order to get a thorough understanding”

2. Know where the MARKET is heading

Keep your business in a competitive position by having the necessary information you need on hand including: data on your business’ performance and the competition and both local and international market trends; and the impact they could potentially have on your business.

How to achieve this: 

Look at the market: Because market trends filter from more developed countries to the rest of the world, Naidoo says it is important to keep an eye on relevant industries and international markets. In addition to this, it is important to take into consideration economic factors such as anticipated currency changes and or regulations influencing industry and business.

Look inside your business: Naidoo recommends that business owners regularly review the last three-month sales patterns “to analyse any changes and to identify what is popular amongst clientele in the industry, both locally and internationally.”

They should also utilise customer inputs and competitor patterns.

Look at what is trending: To keep up with fast-paced and ever changing markets Naidoo says entrepreneurs should regularly keep an eye on media, news and market breakthroughs.

Social media is also a good place to gauge trends and to see how new ideas play out.

3. Build customer LOYALTY

How you treat your customers will ultimately determine whether customers come to you or go to your competitors.

How to achieve this: 

Hone your customer service skills and offer excellent service.

Friendliness, professionalism, empathy and respect are some of the important qualities that entrepreneurs should display when communicating with customers, says Naidoo.

“The above attributes will result in enhanced customer service which in turn will leave customers feeling a sense of importance and commitment from the entrepreneur. Failing to meet the above and thereby offering poor customer service will result in customers choosing a different service provider,” says Naidoo.

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