What do my customers want? This is a question asked by most business owners at some point in time or another. Whilst it isn’t always easy to work out, there are tools that can help you understand your customer better.
1. Your Ears
Yes you read that one correctly, simply listening to your customer really is one of the best ways to understand them. They will tell you what you they want, you just have to make sure you hear them. You can hear this through customer feedback at the front-line, so why not ask the team who speak to your customers every day. They will know what customers respond positively to and what are some of the pain points that disappoint them. So keep your ears to the ground and just take in whatever your customer is telling you.
2. Google Analytics
If you have a website, then tapping into Google Analytics, or other web analysis tools, is critical in understanding your customer. It will also give you some interesting insights into your potential customer. It might seem a bit daunting at first, but it is worthwhile taking some time to just look at the different sections on Google Analytics and see what information it has. You can find out what country your visitors are coming from, what pages they look at most, how long they spend on each page, and even what words they keyed into Google to find you. All of this information will help you understand them better.
3. Satisfaction Surveys and Focus Groups
We all know that no-one likes to be spammed, but sending out a short email survey periodically (perhaps every month or so), is a good way to find out what your customer wants. A few pointers when setting up your survey:
- keep it short and simple (it should take no longer than 5 minutes for them to complete);
- include multiple choice questions as they are easier to answer; and
- make sure you are clear about what kind of information you want to receive. If you have a lot of different things that you want to ask your customer, then why not conduct a series of surveys, say one a month for three months.
You can set up quick and easy surveys using free tools like Survey Monkey.
If you want to have a more in-depth understanding, or your product or service is quite technical and challenging to cover in a short online survey, then you could also try a focus group. In traditional market research, a focus group is a small group of participants who talk about your specific product, but may not necessarily be customers. Whilst this can be a very helpful tool, it can be quite costly.
If you don’t have cash to splash, one option is to ask a small group of customers to come in and have an open discussion with you. This isn’t without it’s risks though; if one customer says something you don’t like, how will you react, or worse still how will your other customers react? However, if it is well facilitated, and the forum is open and honest, you are likely to discover some interesting and very useful things about how you can improve your customer’s experience of your business.
4. Analyse Your Customer Complaints
I can’t even begin to describe how important your customer complaints are in understanding your customers better. It is here that your customers tell you what is really bugging them, and many times they will show you how to make them happy. No need to be a mind-reader, just take a look at what they are saying.
Of course, if you don’t have a method to track customer complaints, it is a good idea to implement a process to at least log them. This will help in several ways, not the least of which is that you can ensure that you have actually responded to each complaint. It will also allow you to group complaints so that you can see where some of your biggest issues are, which is the first step in working out how how to prioritise what to fix and how.
5. Use Your Data
You may or may not have a CRM (customer relationship management system), but your business no doubt has data on your customers, you just need to know how to access it. Have a look at your orders, what are the most popular products? Who orders those more frequently? How often do they order? Where do your customers live? What gender are they? How old are they?
If you can’t find any patterns in the data about your customer, why not take a look at how you are performing for them. How long is it taking you to deliver an order? How many returns do you have? Is the same product always being returned or cancelled? This is all information that you can then use to understand your customer better.
Searching for patterns in data isn’t always easy, for many it is an acquired skill. Whilst it may seem tedious, particularly if you aren’t either numerical or analytical, these tools will help you work out what your customer wants and eventually how you can meet them.
So now that you have all this data, what do you do with it? Well that’s what I will take you through next month.
Rakhee Ghelani – Customer Experience Specialist – Mumbai, India
Rakhee Ghelani is an Australian woman who abandoned her successful corporate career to move to India in 2011. She now works as a freelance consultant, writer and entrepreneur in Mumbai. Her extensive skill set allows her to add value to businesses in industries as varied as travel, manufacturing and publishing.
Prior to leaving Australia, Rakhee was head of Customer Experience for ANZ Bank’s Mortgages division, responsible for over 850,000 customers. Customers don’t generally “like” banks or having a mortgage, so it was a challenging but rewarding role that also sparked her interest in helping other companies wow their customers. She believes customer experience extends far beyond how you speak to a customer in a retail store or on the phone, it is about understanding what they want and need, and getting it right every time.
Rakhee is also a travel writer and photographer, and a co-founder of Gourmet Pop-Up shop in Mumbai called Potluck Me. She has a few other entrepreneurial efforts in the pipeline and is currently writing her autobiography. An extensive traveler, you can follow Rakhee’s adventures across India and the world here: