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Strategies to identify what your customers want

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Defining what customers want is something all successful businesses must do. No two customers are the same, so determining their needs and wants requires flexibility and a fluid approach that leaves room for business owners to adapt as their customers’ needs change.
Adapting to changing customer demands was perhaps never more important than during the COVID-19 pandemic. The outbreak of the deadly coronavirus in late 2019 forced both consumers and business owners to change how they shop and sell products, respectively. Those changes were made seemingly overnight, as governments across the globe placed restrictions on businesses and individuals in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.
As the world gradually emerges from the pandemic, business owners must once again determine what their customers want. That’s as significant a challenge as ever, as how consumers find the products they need has changed considerably since the onset of the pandemic. The financial experts at JP Morgan note that the pandemic drove more shoppers online. By the end of 2020, e-commerce accounted for 16 percent of all sales in the United States. That marked a nearly 5 percent increase since the first quarter of 2020.
Business owners may face a challenge in determining what customers want after the pandemic, but they can utilize various strategies to help that process go smoothly.
• Solicit customer input. Though vaccination rollouts have gone smoothly so far, many consumers are taking a cautious approach to getting back to normal. Soliciting customer input can be a great way to gauge their comfort levels as well as what they’re looking for in a post-pandemic climate. Customer surveys can shed light on the psyche of your consumers and what they’re looking for from the businesses they trust. Once customer feedback has been analyzed, business owners can then tailor their offerings to meet the shifting nature of consumer demands, making every effort to appeal to as many customers as possible.
• Lean on sales teams. Sales teams interact directly with the customers, be it in person, via Zoom calls, emails, or other channels. Business owners can lean on their sales teams for input regarding how customers are feeling and what their goals for the future are. Instruct sales teams to speak directly with customers about their short- and long-term goals, and then utilize their feedback to inform decisions going forward.
• Work with a consultant. An outside consultant can provide objective analysis that can be invaluable as businesses transition to a post-pandemic world. Consultants can utilize their knowledge of the industry to determine what a given business is doing or not doing to separate itself from its competitors. Consultants also can recommend strategies that will help businesses adapt to what experts like JP Morgan suggest could be a business landscape that may never be the same as it was prior to the pandemic.
Identifying what customers want may require some creativity and flexibility as the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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