We don’t like to admit it, but as business leaders, we’re often a bit out of touch with what our customers want. In most cases, this is because we attempt to impart our feelings, preferences, and needs onto them. But what if we didn’t? What if we took the time to figure out what they really want and need? The results could be astonishing.
Stop making assumptions
Didn’t your mom ever tell you it’s dangerous to make assumptions? While they can lead to slightly awkward and uncomfortable moments in your personal life, incorrect assumptions can produce extremely costly mistakes in the business world.
If assumptions were treated as truth, some of the world’s greatest inventions – including the telephone, airplane, personal computer, and internet – would have been nixed before they ever had the chance to succeed.
If assumptions are regularly used in your business, you might assume that you know what your customers want, when they actually want something else entirely. You may make a guess in regards to a marketplace trend, only to find out that the opposite is true. You may even fall for the notion that all of your customers are equal, when they’re actually quite unique.
“There are some things a marketer should never guess about – branding, logos, and even the colors that customers like best,” digital marketing expert Nicki Howell writes. “Additionally, the simple elements of the customer experience, such as whether your customers prefer to talk on the phone or chat live on the website, can also become dangerous pitfalls when combined with assumption.”
In other words, guesswork needs to become a thing of the past. Whether it’s marketing, customer service, management, or supply chain logistics, objective insights are a must.
Start gathering facts
The only way to figure out what your customers truly want and need is to go straight to the source. Here are some tangible ways you can gather facts and make more informed, customer-oriented decisions:
1. Customer Surveys
A lot of powerful information can be gleaned from studying your customers and observing their behaviors – and that will be discussed more in the following section – but there’s a big difference between observed data and firsthand data.
If you want to know how customers feel about something, sometimes your best option is to ask them via a questionnaire or survey.
Surveys intimidate many marketing directors and business owners, but they shouldn’t. Tools like Drag’n Survey make it easy to create professional surveys, distribute them via email or social media, and carry out real-time analysis on the data.
The key with customer surveys is to carefully word questions so that you get accurate responses – not just the responses you want to hear. Questions should be closed-ended, neutral, and easy to answer. Avoid asking for multiple things in one question and give customers the option to answer only the questions that they’re comfortable engaging.
2. Website analytics
Google Analytics is your friend. (SE Ranking is also a useful alternative for folks who would prefer a different option.) The more you familiarize yourself with website analytics, the more cognizant you’ll be of reality.
Website analytics platforms provide you with concrete data on who is visiting your website, where they’re coming from, and what they’re doing when they’re on your site. While it’s still possible to make assumptions based on this data, you’re also afforded the opportunity to glean educated insights and form data-backed trends.
3. Buyer personas
In order to make marketing decisions that align with who your customers are and how they interact with your products, it’s helpful to build buyer personas.
“An effective way to build buyer persona profiles is to interview customers who purchased your product or service,” marketer Ken Dooley writes. “Your interview goal is to trace the decision-making story from beginning to end. Start with questions about the event or problem that motivated the customer to search for a solution.”
4. Social listening tools
For businesses that are active on social media, social listening tools can provide useful insights into what people are saying about your brand. These tools – such as Brandwatch – notify you when your brand is mentioned and allow you to organize data for future use.
When used in combination with website analytics, customer surveys, and interview-backed buyer personas, they help paint a picture of what your customers are after (and how you’re doing in fulfilling their needs).
Putting it all together
You might have some inclinations as to how your customers feel and what they want, but run these ideas through data-backed filters before they become full-fledged assumptions. What you find may verify your initial beliefs, or the results may totally contradict your underlying suppositions. Either way, you’re better off doing the additional legwork so you can make intelligent decisions that account for objective truth.