Reflections on how it is to be a human being today

By Anders Björklund

Reflections on how it is to be a human being today

All companies know that business success correlates with how well a company satisfies its customer's needs. The success of Amazon, Apple and Tesla are often described as the organisation's ability to understand people's motivation, goals and desires. However, even though everyone is aware of the relationship between customer insights and long-term prosperity, a surprising number of companies don't know their customers.

In the pursuit of clarity and a more in-depth understanding of potential buyers, too many companies rely on segmentation alone. Grouping customers and prospects based on factors such as company size, turnover and industry will only give you a vague idea of the customer’s needs. Others seem to think they can discover market needs just by creating ambiguous personas and assign them with names, families and professions. However, these usually lack a solid foundation and therefore, become so diffuse that no one really can relate to them.

It's time to realise that while these fictional methods may be helpful tools, they will never make an organisation customer-centric on their own. If you want to create products and services that solve customer needs, you need to start with finding out what it is like to be a human being in the increasingly digitalised world of today. If you don't have a general understanding of it yet, now is the time. Once you have basic knowledge, you can start to segment the market and create valid personas based on input that matters.

A century of changing behaviours

Although it is hard to determine which era has contributed to the most significant innovations, there is no doubt that the car, television and the internet have had a substantial impact on human behaviour. Since the beginning of the 1900s, we have embraced several innovations in our everyday lives. Let's take a closer look at how these have shaped our behaviours, needs and desires.

We live in an information society

In September, this year, Google will celebrate its 20th anniversary. During its existence, the search engine has changed the way we think, talk, and interact. It has become our primary source of finding knowledge. Whenever we need information, the answer can be found within a few seconds. When we arrive at the holiday destination, many of us have already experienced the environment through Google Earth. When we visit the doctor, most of us already have an idea about the disease based on having googled the symptoms.

With instant access to information, we have developed a need for prompt and accurate answers. Noticeable in hospitals, where patients sometimes claim they are more informed than the doctors, and also in every sales situation. Today, potential buyers expect the seller to be an expert in the industry that specific business operates within. Knowledge has become an essential characteristic for every salesperson.

Everyone is visual & emotional

It's getting harder and harder to remember life before social media. The emergence of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have made it convenient for everyone to share moments, opinions and ideas. It allows us to communicate with friends all over the world, and as the mobile camera has improved, our social media feeds are filled with images and videos.

A large amount of both professional and user-generated content makes it difficult for companies to cut through the noise. Today, people tend to ignore content that is not relevant, interesting or attractive. To be able to reach out, companies are required to produce content with high quality and relevance.

No one has time

As the boundaries between work and leisure slowly fade away, people are getting busier than ever before. The things that are not scheduled in the calendar usually get forgotten, and there is barely time to put in new activities. Between work and family life, our time is spent on an ever-increasing amount of on-demand video entertainment, podcasts and social media.

Meanwhile, many companies are competing for your customer's attention. Whether you sell a service or a product, it will be crucial to learn how to reach the customer online. Keep in mind that your future customers will not pick up the phone or make appointments with strangers - they want to get to know you in their own time, online, first.

These were a few of my reflections on how it is to be human today. What are your thoughts on how it is to be a human being today? How have things changed, and how will they change going forward?

I want to talk to an expert!

This article was updated on May 23, 2019

Anders Björklund
Founder, CEO & Strategist since 2001. Anders provides thoughts and reflections about how to think about onlinification and digitalisation in B2B.
Keep me updated!