Building better relationships and understanding your customers' needs is one of the most effective ways to ensure business success. Learn what motivates customers, discover what they care about, and use their feedback to build better products and services.
The Benefits of Getting to Know Your Customers
Research tells us that focusing on the customer experience and listening to consumers should be built into the DNA of your business. Ninety percent of companies believe that customer experience is the most crucial factor for outshining the competition. Not surprisingly, creating a better customer experience starts with finding out what they think. So, get that right, and you can:
Learn about your customers' main pain points and how you can solve them.
Build trust, connection, and a sense of shared values with your audience.
Tailor your products and services to meet genuine customer needs.
Encourage repeat sales, build advocacy, and extend the customer life span.
There are two critical parts for strengthening your customer experience—getting to know what they think and then building that knowledge into how you do business. We'll focus on the first part: Finding out what your customers think.
How to Get to Know Your Customers
There are several techniques for understanding what's motivating your customers and how they interact with your business, products, and services. For example, you'll need to put yourself in their shoes, see things from their viewpoint, and understand how their decisions are influenced. Look at the customer data you're already collecting. You probably already have plenty of it, and it's a case of reviewing that information and seeing what it tells you:
Review Your Google Analytics Data
Website usage data is beneficial for identifying how customers understand your business offerings and where they're most likely to need support.
Review the most popular pages on your website, your knowledge bases, and support articles.
Understand the most engaging pages for customers and which ones cause them to exit or "bounce".
View a customer's interactions and journey through your website to help understand their intent.
Analyze Social Media and Other Marketing Channels
Every popular social media platform provides in-depth metrics to understand how customers engage with you.
Learn about which posts generate both the most and the least positive responses.
Listen to feedback on your social media channels and use that to identify issues with products and services.
Read communications that customers provide as they can tell you about underlying problems.
Bring Together Other Customer Usage Data and Metrics
Gather data from other interactions with customers: The main types of products and services they buy, loss of customers, lapses in subscriptions or visits, and the marketing initiatives that create the most engagement.
Analyze this data to find common trends.
Understand how the information guides business processes and customer interactions.
Compare analytics and social media data to get an overall view of consumer behavior.
Carry Out Surveys to Understand Your Customers
One of the most tested and true ways to understand your customers is by asking them directly. There are plenty of best practices for carrying out customer surveys, but we recommend the following:
Keep your customer survey short. It's best to stick to a maximum of four to six questions.
Make sure it's easy to understand questions. Use direct phrasing to ensure they're laser-focused and avoid jargon.
Use a variety of channels for surveys—over the phone, in-store, online, and through social media.
Incentivize customers to take the survey. Things like gift cards or discounts can be good motivators.
Limit the yes/no questions. Questions answered on a scale provide more insight than a simple, binary choice.
Allow customers to give free-text feedback to open-ended questions. That is often where you'll find the most important insights.
Tweak your surveys over time. Your questions may change to provide greater depth on aspects as you learn more.
Target surveys to parts of your customer audience, as tailoring questions to particular use cases helps you get more specific responses.
Other Areas for Customer Feedback and Knowledge
Analytics and surveys will provide you with some excellent quantitative and qualitative data, but there are a few other places where you can get some very insightful nuggets. Dig into:
The feedback customers have sent you directly, via email, social media channels, your website, etc.
The information from your customer support and service teams from the areas that cause consumers the most issues and frustrations.
The reviews of your business, products, and services across different platforms and social media.
Identify the Root Cause of Customer Experiences
It's time to consolidate all your information and learn about the underlying root causes that influence the customer experience. Here's how to do that:
Consolidate all your customer insight information into one place.
Go through each piece of data and identify "What does this tell me about the customer experience?".
Validate the truthfulness of the customer experience question using other parts of the data.
For each aspect of the customer experience identified, ask, "Why did this happen?".
Repeat step 4 to dig deeper into the actual, underlying root cause of why this happened. Keep going until you arrive at the initial change, flaw, or process that caused the feedback.
Repeat this for each part of your data.
Getting to know your customers goes beyond just learning their demographics or even their names. It can be more actionable for your business to understand their pain points, what problems they are trying to solve, what they expect, and even their complaints (both about your business and especially your competitors). You can use these insights to make customer-focused changes to your products, services, approaches, and interactions.