Do you view your customers as one group or as different groups with different needs?
My sons´ soccer club made a decision to change the name of their basic level from "Recreational" to "Developmental". This volunteer-run club consistently exceeds my family´s expectations. But this change may invoke the Law of Unintended Consequences.
A club official responded to numerous questions by saying that he had talked with "many families" who had specific developmental goals for their children. Thus, he felt it important to change the name to better describe that level. He also pointed out that he personally did not like the name "Recreational" because it implied ""?¦happy go lucky, no structure, free flowing fun time with no real intended end goal"?¦"
In my opinion the soccer club made a mistake. They failed to realize that their "customers" might fall into different segments, each with different goals for their children. I can think of at least two other segments here:
Families where the children want to have fun, get exercise, make new friends, learn to be good sports, etc. This segment cares more about fitness and the life lessons learned than the specific developmental skills. (We´ll call this the "Happy Go Luckers" segment.)
Families where soccer is secondary to the children´s primary sport (such as baseball or football.) This could be two different segments depending on whether or not learning advanced soccer skills are important. (We´ll call this the "Future All-Stars of America" segment.)
The official received feedback from people (the "Developmental" segment) who shared his view on how the club should be run. The people satisfied with the status quo (the "Happy Go Luckers" and "All-Stars") had no reason to seek him out and apparently he didn´t seek feedback from them.
Unknown here is the size of each segment. It may be that the "Happy Go Luckers" make up the majority of families in the club. Or perhaps they´re a tiny minority. But the point is, the club doesn´t know one way or the other.
By attempting to address the needs of one segment, the association may have inadvertently created other unintended consequences. Changing the name to "Developmental" may send new families to nearby clubs that still call the base level "Recreational," and who may believe "Developmental" is too advanced for their children. Current families may leave because they may perceive that the club is "taking all of the fun out of it."
Bottom line: Remember, your customers are diverse and have different wants and needs. Just because some of your customers share your views or needs does not mean they all do. Do your best to understand the needs of each segment. Consider those before you make key decisions. By approaching it more scientifically, you´re less likely to harm customer loyalty.