Top Best Practices for knowing your customer

Walk a mile in their shoes. Before a company can understand what its customer needs, it must understand the customer’s experience with its product or service, and that includes their experience along all the brand touch points.

Employees and executives alike should talk to customers on the ground, and more importantly, use their own products. Understanding how a customer engages with the brand throughout the arc of their customer experience — not just one moment in time — is essential to building strong, long–term relationships with customers.

The insight you can gain in the trenches will help you to think about ways to deepen the connections with your core audience and look for new customers that you might not currently serve. It also improves employee–customer interaction and creates better products and services that meet future customer needs, wants and desires.

Realize their expectations of you. Every customer has expectations of the brands they engage with, whether it’s for operational excellence, customer intimacy, or product leadership. To understand your customer base, identify what your customers’ fundamental expectations are and how you are filling their unmet needs. Those expectations may be very different than the company perceived them to be. Making an assessment helps brands to identify and better deliver their core value to the customer.

Listening like never before.

Like it or not, your customers are talking about your brand in chat rooms, on review sites like Yelp, and through Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks. The good news is that word–of–mouth and social media have made listening easier than ever before. Brands can spend a ton of money on focus groups, surveys and expensive research, but why not take advantage of existing conversations in the market or stimulate new conversation that spark feedback and engagement?

Listen to your customers through the channels they’re already on. Develop “listening” programs that help your organization to follow what customers are saying online. In addition, provide employees with the opportunity to listen to customer feedback through offline channels such as customer service calls routed from a call centre.

Do something with what you’ve heard.

Be willing to adjust strategy based on feedback from the market. This may also mean finding ways of “selling” a particular course of action to the executives. Set up specific processes that allow you to pull out trends and useful data from the conversations that are taking place in the market as well as processes that empower managers to take action and actually do something with the feedback and information they receive.

Be passionate on both ends of the spectrum.

Think about this: On average, customers are twice as likely to talk about a bad experience as they are to share a positive one. Listening to the good and the bad gives brands greater insight into how customers are using their products and services and where they can be improved.

 


 

This has been part 2 of the Brand Summit, from Marty Neumeier