No matter the size of your operation, where you’re based or what you sell, customers are the lifeblood of your business. Understanding what customers want and need is the key to a loyal, sustainable customer base.
Here’s our guide to understanding your customers.
Getting customer data
If you have a customer relationship management system, you should already have basic information about your customers to hand, such as purchase histories and any issues or complaints they had.
As well as this, here are some other sources of customer data:
- Your own sales staff and returns department if you have one – what are the common queries and complaints that they deal with when they speak to customers?
- Satisfaction surveys – these can give you an insight into what customers value about buying from you, and highlight common problems with your service.
- Customer loyalty schemes – as these collect more personal data, you can use these to get insights into customer age, gender and socio-economic group.
- Website analytics – looking at how people found your site, what they looked at, what links they clicked and how long was spent on each page.
- If you have an ecommerce store, ‘abandoned carts’ (purchases that were started and then not completed) could reveal a lot about the buying experience.
- Competitor research – what are your successful competitors doing or providing that you aren’t? What are less successful competitors doing wrong?
- Social media – popular content shared on social media by your followers, and the sorts of questions people are asking about topics related to your business.
- Market research agencies can provide both general data and personalised reports.
All of these sources of data can then be brought together to give you a clear picture of your customer base – their likes, dislikes, interests and common problems.
Using customer data
Once you have your insights, the priority should be to address any serious problems with your service.
This will entirely depend on the issues you find. For example, if customers commonly abandon a purchase from you when they see the delivery fee, you could reduce this, or give clearer information earlier in the purchase process.
In the medium term, you could look to make your business more helpful and responsive to customers’ general needs and interests.
For example, if the same question often comes up on social media relating to your area of expertise, you could post helpful content on your website or get involved on online forums. Be creative!
Over the long-term, knowing what your customers want and need should inform everything from your marketing strategy to new product development – making sure you’re always relating your offering to real needs.
This article is provided only for general informational and educational purposes. It is not offered as and does not constitute legal or other professional advice on the subject matter in question. You should not act or rely on information contained in this website without first seeking professional advice on the subject matter in question.