Researching Your Customers

bread and butter

In a recent post, How Do Your Work Out Your Customers’ Needs? I looked at why you shouldn’t assume your customers think the same way you do.

The post generated several tweets asking for tips on how to discover what your customer wants.

The simple answer is ask them.

They are your bread and butter and are better placed than anyone to tell you what they need from you or why they don’t feel you’re the right supplier for them. They are also best placed to tell you how they use social media.

So what’s the most effective way of communicating with them?

1. Ask them

Many believe conversation is a dying art so why not resurrect it by speaking to your customers?

Scary thought isn’t it?

Chatting to them will help you discover why they bought from you or why they decided not to. How they found you, what social media channels they use etc.

Whether you come into physical contact with your customers or not, it’s simple to strike up a conversation. Pick up the phone and make a courtesy call to make sure they were happy with your service. While you’re chatting ask them what they liked best about your product/service, what they liked the least, what could be improved, how they first heard about you, do they think using social media would strengthen their standing with customers. In fact ask them if they realised you were on Facebook/Twitter—would they use those channels to communicate with you etc.

2. Newsletter

If you want to conduct a spot of market research and already send out a regular newsletter, add in a short survey and offer a prize or discount to those who complete it to encourage them to help you out.

The questions can be tailored to discover whatever you need to know about your service, products, website, staff etc.

You could also ask them about their social media habits to find out where they ‘hang out’ to make sure you as a company are utilising the right channels for your marketing and monitoring. And of course always include your links to your Facebook or Twitter accounts so they can interact with you.

3. Case studies

We all love a good real life story and that’s where the mighty case study comes in to its own.

Ask one of your recent customers if they would be willing to be the subject of a case study – they’ll be flattered you asked them and you’ll get great publicity from it.

Through the case study you’ll discover what their problem was, their motivation behind approaching you for the solution, how they perceived your service and their feedback on the whole process.  Plus you can discover how they first came across you.

Whether you write it yourself of get a professional copywriter to do it for you, the humble case study is a great promotional and research tool.

4. Feedback

So simple and yet often forgotten.

Once you’ve sold to someone or missed a sale, ask for their feedback. Ask them why they bought from you, or why they decided to go elsewhere.

Ask them where they first heard about your company (if you sell online you could always add this question into your order form to help you discover the most effective advertising channels—whether that’s through Google search, Facebook, Twitter, advertisement etc.)

Taking the time to ask your customers for their feedback also shows you as a company that cares. Yes, it helps you in the long run to improve service, your products and to discover where your customers are hanging out but it also shows that you listen.

5. Test the water

When using applications like Twitter and Facebook try running competitions to see what reaction you get.

Interaction through social media will highlight how your customers are using it. Plus competitions will boost your profile and you can monitor how successful each channel is through the number of entries. You can also grasp an idea of the demographics of social media users by looking at the entrants/comments you receive.

So if you want to find out where your customers’ are hanging out the simple answer is to ask them.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

1 comment so far ↓

#1 Mark Barton on 01.28.11 at 12:54 pm

I do find it strange sometimes that number 1 is ask them.

When things go wrong people do not seem to be able to find information – a recent example would be when Heathrow was closed for snow.

But we also now have more methods of communicating than ever before.

In 2010 we carried out a survey of businesses to find out if knowing what their customers thought had a benefit. The majority of those businesses said that talking their customers directly or via an independant organisation had improved their profits.

Leave a Comment