Dr. Kano defined three essential kinds of characteristics: the basics, performance related (benefits), and delighters. The basics are the must be attributes. Anyone who is selling a product like yours must have these characteristics, or no one will buy them.
Performance related characteristics, often called benefits in selling terminology, over time will lead to customer satisfaction. When these characteristics deliver value above and beyond, customers start to move from merely satisfied to happy. Examples would be size, ease-of-use, value for price, and great service.
But even a whisper of delighters instantly satisfies. These are the thoughtful, unexpected, unique touches that enchant, delight, that make people want to include your product in their lives and no one else’s.
People won’t buy unless you have the basics; they will become more satisfied the better the performance related benefits from their point of view; but to make them loyal, what do you need? (If you did not answer delight, start reading again from the beginning.)
And here’s the nasty little question, how in heaven can you possibly know what the basics are from the customers’ point of view without talking to them? And worse, who the heck are they? It is not always clear. Just because people pay for a product, doesn’t mean they’re a customer. I pay for the right to use the Internet, but what I am buying is Facebook, email, YouTube, etc.
The real customer for your dairy product may not be the person who places the order. Of course, you want to make them happy, but you want to delight the person who’s really buying your product. Who is your customer, the buyer at a supermarket chain, or the consumer who takes your cheese home and serves it to their family?
First priority is to delight the customer, then to figure out how to make the life of the buyer more enjoyable. The best way to do this is to think as if you make more then just one type of product: a physical product, perhaps a cheese; and a service for the intermediary customers like the purchaser.
As a dairy marketers, you can then take each product and figure out what will delight.
What characteristics of service will delight the purchaser and what characteristics can you include in your product that will delight your customer?
You need to look outside-in not inside-out. You need to get out of the building and go to where people buy your product and find out what is basic to them, what satisfies them and from that, what could delight them and try. You will know when you have it. Your sales will explode.
A great place to start is asking every customer along the chain to the final consumer the following two questions:
1. What are you getting from my products that you don’t need?
2. What do you need that you aren´t getting?
Just like the Japanese did with cars and electronics to cut a wide swath into American industry, the Canadian and European dairy companies are asking their customers these questions. Why are you not asking these questions?
Dan Strongin is a former president of the American Cheese Society, chef and business coach for small to medium value added businesses, and the owner of the sites learn.managenaturally.com, and the Facebook group Enjoy Cheese. His online course: “Cheese: How to Buy, Store, Taste, Pair, Talk About and Serve”, is available at enjoycheese.net. Dan can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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