Longings: The hidden path to getting under the customer’s skin
Keshav Arora • February 07, 2020
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Suppose Netflix shut down your fav shows. Assume the streaming service pulled out the next season of its action-packed medieval series The Witcher or the sci-fi horror of Stranger Things. Would you still stay with Netflix? Good sense says, “Of course not! I will stick with an app or a service as long as it gives me what I want.” This is a realistic scenario. And it presents one of the trickiest challenges before businesses whose customers are being wooed by a growing wealth of options (unfortunately, from competitors).
The answer to the question,
“How do I retain customers?” has become delicate. You can’t retain them using templated
tricks that seemed to work so well barely two years ago. Throwing frequent reminder
mails, discounts, personalized gifts, cool experiences, freebies and bonus
loyalty points at them won’t cut it any longer. The conversations and connects
with customers have to be at a level that is deeper than value-based transactions.
We believe that a level, deeper than value, is where fundamental human longings
live. When a business addresses the primary longings of its customers,
long-term loyalty is almost assured.
do “longings” look like?
In a bid to go beyond value-based transactions, today’s
products, services, brands and organizations must rally around the deep-seated
human emotions that drive humans:
They want to celebrate life
They crave to be fascinated
They want to experience beauty
They want to be great
They want to belong
They want to be wholehearted
They want to be relevant
While “value” is a moving target that depends on environments and circumstances, the underlying longings of humans have remained constant for centuries. To recognize, respect and align with these longings is the secret of long-term engagement.
does Design Thinking address the longings?
Looking at a few examples
help understand what it means to address “longings” in addition to delivering
“value”: A news channel derives its audience from putting out the news first.
What happens if it stops being able to meet its established USP for a while? What
happens when a shift in customer attitude moves Windows users to iOS? Or when
buyers of large ready-to-eat food brands move to home delivery?
The most widely prevalent solution to fight back for survival is to lean on a design-thinking methodology that triangulates desirability, viability and feasibility and delivers design innovation at the intersection of the three. Digital organizations have begun to use this methodology for all their projects in a bid to solve problems of efficiency, competitive advantage, meaningful user experience and value delivery.
do you meet “longings”?
Unfortunately, a business or
a brand cannot deliver “greatness” overnight; it cannot make customers
“relevant” in an instant; it cannot give them a sense of “belonging” when they
wake up the next morning. What it can do is begin to take simple baby steps and
build on its commitment to stay aligned with “longings” along with changing
Let’s try and translate these
ideas into real-life scenarios. Imagine for a moment a stock trading
application that promises its user better trading strategies and outcomes than other
trading apps. Could such an application tell users how much ahead they are of
others? Perhaps it can, after a trading session is complete or a day-end report
is delivered, say, “You are 20 percent ahead of your immediate peer group. You
can now take one of the three suggestions provided below to improve your
trading results by another 2 percent.”
Such an application, by telling users they are doing better than others, goes beyond normal value by making the user feel great. By providing suggestions to enhance performance, the app is amplifying the emotion of “greatness”.
Hence, today’s customer journeys are focused around value-based transactions. Once the transaction is complete, the threat of losing the customer becomes real. By blending value-based transactions with primary longings, businesses can make the task of customer retention less stressful.