The audacity of presuming to know what your customers want before they do delivers an inference of not listening to them to better understand their needs. However, the authors of a recent Harvard Business Review article entitled, “Know What Your Customers Want Before They Do,” state that advances in IT, data gathering, and analytics allows us to deliver propositions, ideas, and strategic influences better than what our client advises. Over-serving our clients by educating them beyond their resources allows yet another element of differentiation and strategic leadership to help them overcome the challenges they face.
As HBR reports, “…businesses are starting to create highly customize offers that steer consumers to the “right” merchandise or services-at the right moment, at the right price, and in the right channel. These are called “next best offers (NBO).”
I pondered this NBO definition and realized this building block of strategy toward our clients proves to be our goal daily. The author of the article explains that in order to create an effective NBO, you must collect and integrate detailed data about your customers, your offerings, and the circumstances in which purchases are made. In real estate, that would be the circumstances in which our services are needed. To execute such a detailed strategy, beyond digging out the customer’s needs, we must know our customers and their organizations so well, we actually can anticipate needs beyond what they express.
The NBO approach requires us to uncover the hard answers by first understanding our clients’ attributes and behaviors, both internally and externally. Second, we need to seek all possible outcomes of future growth and changes in order to manage their portfolio with anticipation and strategic outlook. Third, NBO would drive us to deeper analytics by gathering/analyzing data in many different ways, in order to understand beyond the obvious.
Our clients’ customers are internal, within the organizational corporate structure. They’re responsible for optimizing resources, cutting costs, and setting strategic direction. Those in charge of managing the corporate real estate portfolio are graded internally on whether they are aligned and receiving the results to achieve the hierarchy of key objectives and goals. As consultants, brokers, and account managers our goal is to create the NBO strategy.
This intrigues me for many reasons. I have measured my success by whether I truly have dug deep enough to uncover the needs of my clients. The NBO raises the bar for me to focus on digging up the needs, but also presenting and uncovering for my client what they do NOT know about their organizational influences and direction that will affect the portfolio.
Anticipating the future solidifies the changes for growth, innovations, and technological advances. These areas tie into real estate for strategic decisions in consolidation, location, and optimizing all other resources.
In summary, we build or sharpen an NBO strategy through four broad activities, according to the authors: defining objectives, gathering data, analyzing and executing, and learning and evolving.
Lisa Gardner, a former executive with both PepsiCo and J.C. Penney, heads up consulting and strategy development for OMS Strategic Advisors. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.