You know your customers, but do you understand them?

You probably know your customers, but do you really understand them?  Knowing your customers — information typically collected by a business — means you generally know who they are demographically, their age, gender, location, etc.  Most small businesses do a good job on this front.  When it comes to understanding customers, however, many companies come up short.

If you desire to possess a true understanding your customers and their needs, it is essential that you interact with them as often as possible. Moreover these interactions should be deep, broad, and come via a number of different methods. If you want to get inside the heads of your customers, try implementing any or all of the following tactics:

  1. Use Social Media and Networking to Your Advantage: Your social media platform is an ideal way to interact with your customers. Encourage real-time input from your customers. You can also use these channels to address conflict or misperceptions among your customers. If you don’t have a social media strategy, check out several of our previous blog posts to help you get started.
  2. Customer Surveys: Whether conducted in person at your store, via the phone, on your website, pushed out during a webcast, through direct mail, or through any other medium, a properly structured survey will allow you to elicit answers to your most important questions. What better way to find out what your customers are thinking than to ask them. Surveys today are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement.
  3. Form a “Beta” or “Test” Customer Group: Offer incentives to get your customers and prospects to join a group that will help you generate new ideas, provide feedback on your products and services and collaborate on marketing approaches. Gaining direct insight from the market you’re selling into is invaluable.
  4. Annual Customer Reviews: If you are in a service business, annual customer reviews are an invaluable way to gather feedback.  Customers will appreciate that not every contact has to be about a new sale. An annual review is an opportunity to connect, or reconnect, with your customers in a way that encourages their participation. Incorporating reviews into your business process allow you to close the loop on any knowledge gaps on a regularly planned basis.
  5. Gather Intelligence: Whether it is competitive intelligence, market research, or other forms of business intelligence, the more you know about your customers the better you will be able to meet their needs.

Bottom line…Only by truly understanding your customers, will you be able to exceed expectations and build real loyalty.