6 Sources of Customer Understanding

Customer Understanding

 (Image courtesy of Unsplash)

Why are you in business if you are not focussed on helping customers achieve their goals?

What’s the point of any innovation if it doesn’t add value to your customers in some way?

Steve Jobs said “you have to start with the customer experience and work backwards” while Clay Christensen crystallised the concept of understanding customer needs with his Jobs to be Done theory.

Great companies are founded on an intimate knowledge of their customers and what they’re trying to achieve.

Here are six sources of customer understanding that you can use to gain valuable insight into your customers and their perceptions.

  1. Customer feedback

There really is no substitute for asking customers what they think. There are many ways you can do it: via the web, on your website, after calls into your contact centre, via email, through comment cards or face-to-face. You can even set up polls through Facebook.

There are some guidelines you should follow when asking for customer feedback. I’ve written about them here previously.

  1. Customer Advisory Boards/Focus Groups

A Customer Advisory Board is a “representative group of customers that meets periodically to offer advice on the product and company direction” (Pragmatic Marketing). A Focus Group is “a small-group discussion on a specific, focused topic guided by a trained leader.”

The differences between the two are: CAB’s are more strategic, involve more senior stakeholders, are a two way conversation rather than a one way dialogue, and have a longer term impact.

  1. Ethnographic research

Ethnography is a branch of anthropology that literally means to “write a culture”. Researchers analyse customers using products in their own environment to disprove erroneous assumptions and uncover unexpected insights. Ethnographic studies are great for identifying needs that are yet to be met and testing market demand for products that do not exist.

  1. Web monitoring

How much valuable information slips through the fingers each day of companies that don’t monitor their web page analytics? Doing so would allow them tp gather information on things like where customers were referred from, on which page of the site customers left, what percentage of customers left the site after only viewing one page (the bounce rate), how long they spent on each page of the website, what path they took through the website, and what percentage of customers who viewed a product’s features actually went on to buy it on the site (funnel analysis).

  1. Social listening

Everyday, somewhere in the world, its very likely that someone is talking about your company. More and more, these conversations are happening online either through social networks or online forums. Tools are available that allow you to tap into millions of sources to hear what’s being said about your brand.

  1. Employee feedback

Frontline employees deal with your customers every day. Tap into their knowledge (and engage them in the process) by asking them about your customers. I guarantee you will get responses you did not expect.



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