Are you doing customer forecasting?

today's forecast
Creative Commons License photo credit: borispumps

A few month’s ago Seth Godin wrote a post called Are you a scientist? In the post he talks about how making predictions or forecasting the future is far more valuable than explaining the past. Doing so, whether publicly or privately, can sharpen your thinking and analysis about what is happening around you, what could happen in the future and help better prepare you and your business for the future.

Think about it.

  • We forecast the weather

  • We forecast sales numbers, turnover and profitability

  • We forecast our resource needs, our capital spending, our people needs, our office needs, the number of desks, our IT needs etc etc

  • Why? I think it’s all about preparedness.

    Why, therefore, don’t we do more customer forecasting

    I don’t mean sales numbers or how many units they will buy from us or how often. That’s about us.

    What I mean is ….why don’t we spend more time forecasting, or at least thinking about, how our customers and their needs will change in the future?

    What does that say about their importance? Is it dangerous to assume that they will stay static when we forecast many other things?

    Comments

    1. Hello Adrian
      Understanding who customers are, why they do business with you, what matters to them and how you fit into their lives is still THE area in which many if not most organisations struggle. Sometimes, I am dumbfounded at how some businesses prosper despite knowing little about their customers.

      Maz

      • Hi Maz,
        Thanks for dropping by and adding your perspective. It’s an even bigger challenge understanding what your customers will want in the future if you don’t even understand what they want now. I guess what you are suggesting is understand your customers in the present first before you even attempt to think about the future. Right?

        Adrian

    2. I totally concur with the above… I like the idea that businesses Care! Many dont- its just a job and the bottom line with no real thought of the customer and their needs.
      Cheers
      Libby

      • Hi Libby,
        Caring about everyone and making them happy both those on the outside and those on the inside can go a long long way to creating sustainable growth, great word of mouth, great service and a great company. Watch this space for the next post which will talk about this.

        Thanks for dropping by and commenting. Hope to see you again soon.

        Adrian

    3. Hi Adrian,

      I used to run a forecasting department for a large call centre

      The forecast was always right, unfortunately reality was always wrong.

      So the forecast was pointless

      The real value came from understanding what made reality wrong? Why were your assumptions wrong, what happened?

      Of course you can only do that if you have a forecast in the first place.

      Which as you say, takes a bit of thinking about, whatever you are forecasting

      James

      • Hi James,
        I remember when I used to do macroeconomic forecasting and modelling. The thing that I always used to say was that the only thing that we knew for certain about forecasts is that they would be wrong in some way shape or form. However, as Eisenhower once said in a famous quote about military plans: “Plans are useless but the act of planning is invaluable”.

        Nuff said, right?

        Adrian

    4. You should take part in a contest for one of the best blogs on the web. I will recommend this site!

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