Experience Step 1: The Triggering Need

Posted by Linda Ireland

Oct 30, 2009 11:57:00 AM

Often, when I’m blogging or tweeting I find myself referencing the very first post where I shared our definition of customer experience. There, you'll find the quick and easy explanation of the six steps common to any customer experience. Recently I've been asked to "unpack" this thinking by sharing deeper look at each step, and how the actions across your organization link each step to your organization's financial performance.  So here we go!

Every customer experience starts with a person who has a need, desire or problem they'd trade something of value (typically money) to have solved.  Let's call this the triggering need.

What you solve is more important than what you sell

Why? Because in the beginning there are no products or services, there are only needs or desires. Long before a customer reaches out to engage you, he or she has a need. For instance:

  • A mother wants to capture family memories so she considers her options and then decides on a digital camera
  • A product team spread across three locations needs to get new ideas to market faster so it invests in collaboration software

In each case, the need -- you might even call it an instinctive or primal need – is rarely stored side by side with a named product or service in your customer's mind.  From their point of view, the triggering need is defined as:

An essential problem or desire that
motivates me to look for a solution.

At this step, your customer has simply realized they have a need.

From your organization’s perspective, the triggering need is the choice of what problem for which target customer, your organization will solve. It sets the focus for everything you do (and correspondingly, the lack of focus for companies who fail to clearly define it).  The problem you solve is the headwaters of the river of demand for your company. It should be why your organization does what it does. For your organization, the triggering need is defined as:

The essential problem or desire
we seek to solve for a defined target customer.

See how everything starts here? Customers don’t buy products or services. They buy the absence of pain or the fulfillment of desire. This is why solving a problem will generate a more sustainable performance reward than selling anything.

I'm often asked how many customer experiences one company should have - and the answer is based on how many needs your organization solves.  If you missed it last month, check out this post on the triggering need - or needs - at Starbucks.

Now, what's the triggering need of the product or service you sell?  Of your company as a whole?  Is what you solve more important than what you sell? I'd love to hear your insights on this first step in the customer experience.

Related resources:

If you want to learn more about defining your customer experience and how defining the triggering need can help you drive better financial performance, pick up a copy of Domino. The book offers peer examples, how-to exercises and the business metrics you can use to know you're on track.

Topics: Customer Experience, Strategy


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