Customers vs Prospects

Customers vs. Prospects: Aligning Customer Experience and Win Loss Analysis

I’m in product development and as such I struggle with two competing audiences: my existing customers and my prospects.

While you might think these are the same people—after all, our prospects do become our customers—they are not. They have different expectations of our company, our sales people, and (most important to me) our products.

It’s not that they are misrepresenting themselves or that we do a poor job of transitioning them, it’s that what they assume they need before purchasing and what they actually do use after purchasing are often very different beasts.

A study released several years ago by the Harvard Business Review found that when given the choice, new customers select the product with more features, but post-purchase, existing customers find more satisfaction with the product that has greater usability and less complexity.

To use a specific example, several years ago I was involved in building web portals for state and local governments and one of the features that consistently came up was personalization, allowing users to change the color scheme or move modules on the page. While this was universally requested by our clients and perceived to be a great way to encourage usage of these portals, we consistently saw adoption lower than 5%, even among our own clients’ personnel. Users asked for but didn’t actually want the complexity.

Aligning Customer Satisfaction and Decision Analysis

To do a better job of gauging prospect desires and customer needs, I use two different tools: customer experience and win/loss (decision) analysis. Customer satisfaction provides insight on existing customers, while win/loss analysis tells me what our prospects are looking for. Simple enough, right?

However, I make sure the same kind of information is being asked in both studies, so that I can do true comparisons and determine where differences and similarities lie. These include questions such as:

Prospects (Win/Loss Analysis) Customers (Satisfaction)
What features of [each shortlisted vendor] did you value most and why? What features of our product do you value most and why?
What features of [each shortlisted vendor] did you value least and why? What features of our product do you value least and why?
What features or functions would you like to see provided in the future? What features or functions would you like to see provided in the future?
Rate [each shortlisted vendor] on each of the following product criteria. [present list of criteria] Rate your satisfaction on each of the following product criteria. [present list of criteria]

There are more questions that can and should be asked; the important concept though is that you need to design your research to be able to make appropriate comparisons between the two groups of customers. Without the ability to align the needs of customers and the wants of prospects, I cannot understand what my products need to satisfy the differing desires of each.

The question I pose to you is this: How do you decide whether to offer a feature-rich offering that appeals to potential customers or to offer a simplified offering that delivers high satisfaction and retention for existing customers?

 


If you’re new to win loss, download this eBook Why Win Loss Analysis? When You Know More, You Win More.

For getting started with customer experience analysis, download Your Guide to B2B Customer Experience.

To get insights on combining both customer experience and win loss analysis, download B2B Playbook for Revenue Growth.

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