It’s nearly impossible to run a successful business if you don’t understand your customer. Sadly, most modern brands are swimming in data without a clue who their actual customers are.
The Importance of Knowing Your Customers
Most businesses think they know their customers when they’ve really just developed vague caricatures. They think they have an intuitive assumption for who their customers are; however, they’ve never taken the time to dive in and fully understand them. This lack of understanding “hamstrings” their efforts and prevents them from achieving the sort of growth they need to succeed over the long haul.
Knowing your customers is critical on multiple fronts, but it’s essential for:
- Developing content. Content is king. But your content will fall flat if you don’t have a very specific target reader in mind. By learning who your customers are and their biggest needs, pain points, and desires, you can shape your voice and create more valuable content that cuts straight to their core.
- Shaping offers. When you know your customer fully, you know what they want and need. This enables you to develop powerful offers that actually intersect them at the appropriate places. Your offers will go from the surface to the core.
- Providing customer service. When you learn who your customers are at a deep and visceral level, your entire approach to customer service will change. From the words you use to the mediums you select – i.e., email, phone, chat, etc. – everything will improve for the better.
- Innovating new products and solutions. As you get to know your customers, they’ll actually tell you what they want. This provides powerful insights that can be turned into new products and solutions. If you let them, customers will act as your own “innovation” department.
Until you fully embrace the pursuit of knowing who your customers are, you’ll fail to put forth your best effort in marketing, sales, customer service, and innovation. But there is good news. If you decide that you truly want to know your customers, it’s easier than ever before. You just have to take action.
3 Ways to Understand Your Customers
Every business has a unique base of customers. However, there’s no secret formula for peeling back the curtain and clarifying your audience. It’s as simple as relying on basic methods like:
- Product Analytics
Most businesses have a pretty cursory understanding of who their customers are, but few take the deep dive necessary to uncover their full “DNA.” Product analytics can help your business quickly and efficiently dig in and discover their core identity.
As Amplitude explains, “Product analytics is about scaling customer empathy by understanding exactly how users interact with your product. Whether you make a SaaS product or consumer goods, there is a digital trace of that behavior. Product analytics involves tracking that behavior and arranging it in a way that makes sense.”
In the most basic sense, product analytics helps you answer important questions, such as the following:
- Who are our most valuable customers?
- Which customers churn the most?
- Which actions do churned customers usually take?
- What are the characteristics of highly engaged and/or loyal customers?
- What are my customers’ biggest pain points?
Product analytics makes easy work of answering these questions by sourcing the appropriate data, filtering it into the proper frameworks, and creating accurate outputs that are succinct and actionable.
- Social Listening
Social listening is the practice of gathering insights about your customers and brand via social networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube. It typically consists of a two-part process:
- Monitoring social channels for all mentions of your products, brand, keywords, and/or competitors.
- Collecting and analyzing this information so that you can make competitive decisions that lead to growth.
Social media monitoring typically requires specific social listening software and constant testing. It’s basically the marketing version of scientific experimentation. You’re collecting data, making assumptions, and then running experiments against these hypotheses. When you find something that works, it becomes part of your strategy.
- Customer Service
Many businesses view customer service as an afterthought. In fact, some see it as a burden and waste of resources (which is why it often gets outsourced). But if you want to understand your customers from the inside, you must shift your approach.
In reality, your customer service team members are your frontline workers. They’re the people who talk to your customers on a daily basis. They know the words they use, the problems they have, their expectations, frustrations, dreams, etc. You should be recording all of these conversations and regularly meeting with your customer service team to get a clear understanding of who your customers are.
Take the Next Step
Stop pretending you know who your customers are and actually invest the time and resources required to take your business to the next level. The more fully you commit yourself to this effort, the better your results will be.