When I first visit with a new client the first thing I ask is, “Do you talk with your customers?” I am often surprised to hear that many don’t. This is one of the first check points or pulses in marketing, as this insight is pivotal to how you can strategically manage your business. This feedback shapes everything and so here are 5 ways to capture customer insights.
1. Ring your customers for a chat. Everyone likes to be made feel valued and so to ringing your customers and asking them how everything is going and if there is anything they need or you can do to improve your service is a no brain- er. Most small businesses don’t do it. Make a time in your diary for every month to call at least 5 customers and ask them these questions. You will find the answers shape your business and open up opportunities.
2. Have a database. This is a crucial investment. One central place to collect information about your customers. The more you know about them, the more you can tailor your services to their individual needs. There are lots of great CRM products out there to hold your customer information (see sidebar CRM links) but a simple excel sheet with their details, name, phone number, email address and what they have bought from you is a good start. You can then begin to segment your customers based on different criteria, how much they buy from you, $ value, products or services they buy. This information can then be useful when you start talking with your customers using other social medias including, blogs, newsletters, or lead generation campaigns.
3. Ask your staff for customer insight. I was talking about this the other day with a client and we decided to put a big whiteboard in the middle of the open office space with Happy Customers, Upset Customers and then people could come and write down what they were hearing and seeing. This gave the CEO much greater visibility to customers and gave the staff some ownership over the customer satisfaction of their clients. So set up some forum where staff can discuss customer issues, good and bad.
4. Do some research. Research these days can be very quick to do and economical. There are a lot of free survey tools (look under my links on the side bar) that allow you to create surveys quickly. When you need to test and idea, get some feedback then perhaps try a survey to your existing clientele. Very quickly you can get a feeling whether you are on the right track and as long as the survey is not too long, they can feel good that they were consulted.
5. Invite customers to your planning and brainstorming sessions. It is sometimes worthwhile to have a customer or a customer advocate like a marketing consultant involved in your planning sessions for the business to ensure that the customer remains central to the focus of your business. This holds the business accountable and by having an actual voice at these forums ensures that the customer is really represented. Other option is to hold a focus group just with your customers around an important decision that you are going to make with the business, to test the concept or pilot it before you commit to it.
So there you go, 5 simple but effective ways to talk with your customers. Get started today, and let me know what you uncover…