Sensemaking: What are your Customers' Needs? Really?




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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)

Conclusion
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.

Sources:
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
 

Rating

 
1
Maria Montero
Coach, Venezuela
 

I Like This Sensemaking Approach

I have implemented a very similar approach with my clients in which I have understood their needs, i... Sign up

 
0
kvssiyer
Consultant, India
 

Customer Behavior and Experiences

Understanding customer behavior requires much more than just understanding Kano's model and applying... Sign up

 
2
adrian hidalgo
Manager, Ecuador
 

Customer Behavior Approaches

In reality, many people don't really consume "what they should eat" to meet their needs. In case of ... Sign up

 
1
Madan Gopal Agarwal
Business Consultant, India
 

Customer Needs ⇒ Behaviour ⇒ Experiences ⇒ Satisfaction

The customer is an individual entity and her/his needs / behaviour / experiences / satisfaction depe... Sign up

 
0
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... I found the term "sensemaking" for the first ti... Sign up

 
2
Dr. Luis De La Cruz
Professor, United States
 

Making New Clients Tick

In my experience, common sense is not that common to people and new clients are no exception. Probl... Sign up

 
3
Derek Lark
CEO, Australia
 

Empathy Map for Customer Analysis

I like the approach shown here. I have also used the Empathy Map which forces clients to look at the... Sign up

 
1
yanney John Parker
Business Consultant, Ghana
 

The Sensemaking Process

Sensemaking works all right, especially since customers do not value some of the other approaches. F... Sign up

 
1
Emmanuel Mwirichia
Manager, Kenya
 

Customer-centric Organizations Survive

Sensemaking is a key feeder into the customer relationship management of an organisation. By doing ... Sign up

 
0
Maria Montero
Coach, Venezuela
 

How do You Step In?

@Dr. Luis De La Cruz: What you described is very true, but when you are able to do that you have alr... Sign up

 
2
kvssiyer
Consultant, India
 

Customer Behavior is Subjective, Contextual and Temporary

Why the child weeps and what makes it weep is the same as why the customer presents a behavior that ... Sign up

 
0
Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands
 

Customer Behavior is Subjective, Contextual and Temporary

@Kvssiyer: Thanks for your outstanding contribution. We might say in marketing, the only constant is... Sign up

 
1
Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands
 

Use of Sensemaking in B2B Sales

B2B buyers nowadays spend a lot of time independently researching vendors and the industry at large.... Sign up

   

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