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You Are Not your Customer: How to Get Out of your Head and into Theirs

Leslie Ramey

12 September 2017

These days, if you don’t’ have a customer-centric business, you’ll be left in the dust. A customer-centric business should include the following:

  • Products designed with specific users in mind.
  • Service that puts the customer first.
  • Inbound marketing that targets customers with individualized journeys.
  • Systems in place for personalized interactions with your sales team.

If you don’t have these things, or you have them but they don’t seem to be growing your business, there’s a good chance you’re missing a piece of the puzzle: you’re not getting into your customers’ heads.

When business owners are passionate about their products and services, it’s easy to assume that your customers are a lot like you. Chances are, they’re not. Seeing and feeling what your customers do is critical to the success of any business.

Here’s how to get out of your own head, and into your customers’.

Develop Personas

The best way to understand your ideal customer is by creating personas. A customer persona is an imaginary person who represents your ideal customer. Most businesses create more than one because they have several different kinds of customers. If your business sells toys, for example, you’d probably create a persona for the child who will be playing with the toy, as well as the parent who will be buying it, because both need to be satisfied.

The best customer personas are based on two types of information: data and direct interaction.

Collecting Data on Your Customers

Where do your customers shop, eat, work, and play? Who do they ask when in need of advice? Where do they live, how old are they, and what are their favorite brands? You can learn some of this using social media, but a complete market analysis will tell you even more.

Tracking behavior on your website through Google Analytics is important too. In fact, Google Analytics can give you important details about who is currently visiting your site. Demographics like age and gender let you see who is on your site now. Knowing this let’s use create a persona that will allow you to reach your target. Other data like interests, geo, and technology will give you more insight. If this data is not showing you the users you expected it may be time to start working with a user experience professional and branding team to steer your site back on track.

All of this will give you a bird’s-eye view of your customers so you can build the skeleton of a persona.

Interviewing Your Customers

In order to flesh out personas, you need to interact with them directly. Informally, talking with them face-to-face in your store or asking them to fill out feedback cards is one way to get this more personal information. Ideally, however, you’d set up customer interviews.

During these interviews, focus on what problems or pain points customers have. Ask them about what their goals are and what their experiences are with your brand, services, and products. Base your questions on the data you’ve already collected, but don’t assume the answers you get will apply for every customer.

You can do this in a group setting, like a focus group, or one-on-one. Host a reception and offer cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.   While everyone is mingling have your team circle and ask a predetermined set of questions. People are more likely to provide honest feedback in a relaxed setting, especially as they are enjoying your treats and drinks.

Prove Yourself Wrong

Much of what business owners think they know about their customers is based on assumption. We all do it, and it’s completely understandable. In order to better understand our customers, however, we have to be willing to challenge the assumptions we have.

How?

Write down things you think you know about your customers. Then, for everything you think you know, write down how you know it. Be specific. Is it in the data you’ve collected? Did a customer tell you this once? If you can’t answer, then you’ve made an assumption.

Be careful not to assume that one customer’s experience is representative of all customers, or that the data tells the whole story.

Hire Your Customers

One of the best ways to infuse your business with insights from your customers is to make them part of your business. In other words, hire them. Client-facing workers will be able to relate to customers better if they have a lot in common, and behind-the-scenes workers will help you keep customers in mind at every step of the way.

Need help getting into the heads of your customers? cThru Media can help. We have a variety of competitor and market research packages that can uncover valuable insights that help do boost your business in every area, from marketing to service to product development. Contact us today to learn more!

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