James Armitage, head of marketing at Brakes, stressed the value of understanding the customer’s needs.
He said it was important to ask them what they want, not just to give them what we think they want. It was also important to try to anticipate their future needs and develop a business relationship built on trust.
Armitage explained that Brakes has worked on attitudinal customer segmentation, looking at its varied range of customers from dinner ladies to purchasing directors.
They had segregated them into four categories – Daily Grinders, Star Gazers, Trend Spotters and Bottom Liners – who all had different wants and requirements of both Brakes and suppliers. He said their needs varied a lot but they were all looking for support from both sides.
To produce contented customers, said Armitage, required great products, customer insight and foresight, outstanding service levels and efficient professional suppliers.
He concluded: “The moment you stop thinking about your customers is probably when they stop thinking about you.”