Building better relationships and understanding the needs of your customers is one of the most effective ways to ensure business success. National “Get to Know Your Customer” days happen four times a year, on the third Thursday of January, April, July, and October. These days are a great opportunity to learn what makes your customers tick, find out 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. In fact, 90 percent of businesses believe that customer experience is the most important factor for outshining the competition. Not surprisingly, building a better customer experience starts with finding out what they really think. Get that right and you can:
- Learn about the main pain points your customers have 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 key parts to strengthening the 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 really think.
How to Get to Know Your Customer
There are several techniques for understanding what’s motivating your customers and how they interact with your business, products, and services. You’ll need to put yourself in their shoes, see things from their viewpoint, and understand how that influences decisions.
Look at the Customer Data You’re Already Collecting
You probably already have plenty of customer data, and it’s a case of reviewing that information and seeing what it tells you:
Review Your Google Analytics Data
Website usage data is extremely useful for identifying how customers understand your business offerings and where they’re most likely to need support.
- See what the most popular pages are on your website and in your knowledge bases and support articles.
- Understand the pages that are most engaging 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 are engaging 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, and lapses in subscriptions or visits, 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 with 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 yes / no questions as, typically, questions answered on a scale provide more insight than a simple, binary choice.
- Allow customers to give free-text feedback to open-ended questions, as that’s often where you’ll find the most important insights.
- Tweak your surveys over time, as you learn more, your questions may change to provide greater depth on particular aspects.
- Target surveys to parts of your customer audience, as tailoring questions to particular use cases helps you get more specific responses.
Mine 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:
- Feedback that customers have sent you directly, via email, social media channels, your website, etc.
- Information from your customer support and service teams on the areas that cause the most issues and frustrations for consumers.
- Reviews of your business, products, and services across different review platforms and social media.
- Viewpoints and votes on your product and service development and roadmap.
- Common bug reports or feature requests for your business offerings.
Identify the Root Cause of Customer Experiences
It’s time to consolidate all of this information together and learn about the underlying, root causes that influence the customer experience. Here’s how to do that:
- Consolidate all of 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 you identify, ask “Why did this happen?”
- Repeat step 4 to dig deeper into the true, 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.
Let’s illustrate this with an example:
- Your data reports that a percentage of customers have complained about not receiving a particular product that you’ve sent out.
- You ask the USPS and they state that items have been delivered as requested.
- You contact customers directly to get further information on the issue.
- You discover that the items are being stolen from the front of people’s houses.
- You ask why the items are not being left in mailboxes.
- You discover that the packaging on the item makes it too bulky to put in a mailbox, meaning mail carriers leave it somewhere it could get stolen.
- You use this insight to re-engineer your product and packaging design so it can now be left in a mailbox.
Due to the amount of data you have, you may want to prioritize your root cause analysis based on the most common issues that are impacting customers.
These four approaches will help you really understand your audience on Get to Know Your Customer Day. You can use these insights to make customer-focused changes to your products, services, approaches, and interactions.