Sensemaking: What are your Customers' Needs? Really?

Customer Satisfaction
Knowledge Center

Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

Sensemaking: What are your Customers' Needs? Really?

Customer Behavior Approaches
There are many approaches towards analyzing customer needs, customer satisfaction, customer behavior and customer experiences. They range from market data analysis and conjoint analysis to Customer Satisfaction Surveys (e.g. Kano), Lead-user or Opinion Leader studies, (User) Co-Creation, Focus Groups, Mystery Shoppers to Design Thinking, Analytical CRM, and lately: 'Big Data'.

The Problem with Quantitative Approaches
Most of these quality assurance and marketing methods can give detailed results, but don't give much fundamental insight in what truly makes your customers (and your non-customers) behave in the way they do. These tools don't tell you what are the often irrational motives behind your customers' (buying) behavior. Often these are unknown even to themselves...
Truly understanding what makes your buyers 'tick" (and buy) is a skill that becomes more and more important in our age in which both our way of life and the technological possibilities to support it change quickly.

A Profound Customer Behavior Approach: Sensemaking
Madsbjerg and Rasmussen suggest a quite different and refreshing human-oriented technique to discover customer needs they call 'Sensemaking'.
Based on insights of Anthropology, Sensemaking is an instance of Phenomology (the study of how people experience life), and is defined by the authors as: "the process of revealing the often subtle and unconscious motivations informing (consumer) behavior".
If done well, sensemaking can lead to fundamental insights informing product development, organizational culture and even business strategy.

The Sensemaking Process
The authors describe a 5-step process for sensemaking:
1. Reframe the problem (in terms of customer experience)
2. Data collection (raw, open, not hypothesis-based)
3. Find patterns (look for underlying, root causes)
4. Generate new key insights
5. Implement in initiatives (traditional innovation process)

Sensemaking is not easy, but worthwhile to explore if you want to understand in a profound way what business you're really in, what makes your buyers 'tick', and discover new, innovative and creative ways to fulfill their deeper needs. Even if these are irrational and driven by unconscious motives unclear to themselves.

Article: Christian Madsbjerg and Mikkel B. Rasmussen: An Anthropologist Walks into a Bar... HBR March 2014, pp. 80-88.
Book: Christian Madsbjerg and Mikkel B. Rasmussen (2014): The Moment of Clarity: Using the Human Sciences to Solve Your Toughest Business Problems

  Maria Montero
Coach, Venezuela

I Like This Sensemaking Approach

I have implemented a very similar approach with my...

Consultant, India

Customer Behavior and Experiences

Understanding customer behavior requires much more...

  adrian hidalgo
Manager, Ecuador

Customer Behavior Approaches

In reality, many people don't really consume "what...

  Madan Gopal Agarwal
Business Consultant, India

Customer Needs ⇒ Behaviour ⇒ Experiences ⇒ Satisfaction

The customer is an individual entity and her/his n...

  Zahra Djebaili
Student (University), Algeria

It's Hard to Understand the True Behavior of Customers

Thank you so much Jaap de Jonge for this approach....

  Dr. Luis De La Cruz
Professor, United States

Making New Clients Tick

In my experience, common sense is not that common ...

  Derek Lark
CEO, Australia

Empathy Map for Customer Analysis

I like the approach shown here. I have also used t...

  yanney John Parker
Business Consultant, Ghana

The Sensemaking Process

Sensemaking works all right, especially since cust...

  Emmanuel Mwirichia
Manager, Kenya

Customer-centric Organizations Survive

Sensemaking is a key feeder into the customer rela...

  Maria Montero
Coach, Venezuela

How do You Step In?

@Dr. Luis De La Cruz: What you described is very t...

Consultant, India

Customer Behavior is Subjective, Contextual and Temporary

Why the child weeps and what makes it weep is the ...

  Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

Customer Behavior is Subjective, Contextual and Temporary

@Kvssiyer: Thanks for your outstanding contributio...

  Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

Use of Sensemaking in B2B Sales

B2B buyers nowadays spend a lot of time independen...


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