Think about your customers. Do you know them well or are they strangers? Can you describe your ideal or average customer? If they’re consumers, you might know basics like age, gender, household income, and some of what they buy. If they’re a business, you probably know what industry they’re in, what their revenues are and some trends facing them.
But knowing the basics won’t tell you what issues they face in their daily lives or business, how well they are or aren’t resolving those issues, where they go to find out more about resolving things and how they go about making a decision. You need to know what motivates them, how their attitudes and actions are measured, and what their priorities are.
If you don’t have a good customer profile today, start by collecting information you have. Your different groups may have different pieces of customer knowledge. Collect these different bits of information, identify what is missing and develop a plan to fill in the gaps.
Find out what they think about issues, how well you’re meeting their needs or where they wish you were better. Try a mix of these 7 tactics for getting closer to your customers:
- Complete an annual or post-sale satisfaction survey
- Conduct a win/loss survey on closed opportunities
- Set up a trend polls or issue survey
- Create an advisory board, user community or forum
- Provide an online or telephone feedback “mailbox”
- Capture product or support interactions
- Seek input on plans, from ads, brochures and artwork to products and services, to understand what works best and what they care about
Train everyone in the company to ask questions on an ongoing basis and share the answers through the customer contact or relationship systems you use.
Knowing your customers requires getting inside their heads to understand what keeps them up at night, what motivates them, and how they address these things. It entails listening to what they say and how they say it, knowing who they listen to most, finding out how they use solutions after they’ve bought them and learning what they do and don’t like about the result.
Being part of the conversation means being where they are and either participating, facilitating or driving the discussions that they are having online, at work, at home, or in groups. When customers stop being strangers, you understand their decision journey and can participate appropriately. Then you are on the path to strong and enduring relationships. Check out this video on TRUE customer intimacy:
What are you finding that’s working for your company?