Use this framework to assess the needs of customers.
Shared future analysis is a tool developed by marketing consultant, Peter Cheverton, and shared in his book, Key Marketing Skills: Strategies, Tools and Techniques for Marketing Success (2005). It examines the strengths and weaknesses of a company in delivering against the needs of individual customers or segments.
The framework is based on a grid that considers what a company is good at and where it has deficiencies against things that excite or worry customers. The framework looks at future needs of customers. The grid can be applied to an individual customer for key account management or to a segment of the market. The idea is to list strengths and weaknesses of your company, and list the issues that excite or worry customers. Then, at the intersection of these strengths, weaknesses and needs, a score is given to indicate whether your company makes a positive or negative impact.
The framework indicates where improvements are required and also highlights areas that can be used to develop your value proposition.
The tool is not unlike a simple matrix that I have used in many workshops over the years. The framework starts with a listing of all the needs of customers. These are assembled into the most important and least important. The list may be lengthy but it is recommended that the top five customer needs are sliced off for analysis. These are given a numerical weight from 1 to 5 where 5 is the most important need for customers and 1 is lower down in importance (please note that it doesn't mean to say that this lower ranking means the need is not important – it is just less important than those that are ahead of it).
The rows of the grid are a numerical rating of your company's strengths, again where 5 indicates a high/strong score. The customer needs are now plotted in the grid with a single need in each column. (See the example which shows a company has a strong brand, but this is not as important to customers as quality or service). The output indicates actions similar to those from Peter Cheverton's framework. Attributes in the bottom right-hand corner of the grid are important to customers but not a company strength. Equally, attributes that are in left-hand columns of the grid may be nice to have but they are unlikely to impress customers.
Frameworks of this kind are helpful in key account management and in figuring out value propositions for different segments of the market.
Some things to think about:
Do you fully understand the strengths and weaknesses of your company, especially in terms of its ability to excite or cause worry to customers? And do you understand the future needs of customers?
What are the things that are important to customers, but are not a strength within your company? How capable are you of making improvements to rectify any such deficiencies?
And equally, what are the things that are important to customers and are a strength of your company? These should be featured in your value proposition.