Your team's vision must combine the team's passion with what your customers need.
"Customers” refers to anyone who pays us, sponsors us, or uses our products and services. And the best way of finding out what they want is to ask them. You get essential information about what they expect, and you both benefit from building the relationship.
Ask them what works and what doesn’t. Ask them as often as you can without being a nuisance.
Ask them what else they would like… but don’t expect them to do all the work. Customers are notorious for not knowing what innovations they might want until it’s right under their nose. Who knew they wanted an iPod until they saw one? Or a telephone?
But we do know what customers like in general:
Customers don’t want to be spun a line about what you are offering only to be disappointed when it doesn’t match up. If your team says it offers something world-class, then that something had better be extraordinary! Big statements + small delivery = damaged credibility.
Customers like products and services they can get at easily, and find out more about if they want to.
Customers want to feel you’re on their side, not just pushing your own agenda when you’re talking with them. If you don’t provide something they need, help them to find it from somewhere else. If you go into a shop and they don’t supply what you want, you appreciate it if the shop owner tells you about the store a couple of miles away that specialises in those products. Your customers will feel the same about you.
Customers don’t like being patronised. They like being made to feel that their knowledge is respected. You can do this by helping them ask the right questions and giving them honest answers.
I call these the 4A's – accuracy, accessibility, alliance and advice.
You’ll have different groups of customers, each with different needs. Your employer or sponsor is also a customer, and their needs will certainly be unique. You can use the 4A’s to review what you offer each major group in turn.
Use the getting it right for customers development exercise to review your customers' needs.
There will be some tricky choices to make but the exercise will help you make the right ones.