One of the most exciting and challenging aspects of running a business is connecting with customers. Once you’ve identified what drives your customer, you’re more likely to be able to deliver what they want. There are many ways to figure out what customers are searching for and the best way you can give it to them.
Even if your product or service is only going to be in use once, make sure to gather direct feedback from the people who use it. A simple follow-up email or postcard gives your customer time to respond at their convenience. It’s better to let the person do it at their own pace so they can think about the answers and don’t feel social pressure to only make positive comments.
When writing a feedback card, start by asking why the person chose to work with your company in the first place. It might give you a better idea of how to target future customers, as well as insight on which marketing dollars are giving you the best return on investment. Ask for positive and negative comments on what they purchased from you, comments on their interactions with staff, and suggestions for future improvement.
Knowing your client’s state of mind is invaluable. It can help you target content, products, or services better because you have a more thorough understanding of what your client wants. Sentiment analysis is a technology that uses several different data gathering and examination strategies to determine how people feel about anything from competing companies to interactions with your customer service professionals.
One website that has a great visual use of sentiment analysis is Trump Today, a website that aggregates news about Donald Trump and his administration. Look at the list of hot topics below the visual data and you can see information about each topic. One of these pieces of information is the sentiment that is expressed about the topic on social media, represented by a green smiley or a red frowning face. They’ve used a simple, creative way to visualize the data so that a viewer can understand at a glance how the topic affects people.
This information organization gives you an idea of what your target audience feels at a glance. With that information, you know which topics will create a positive reaction in your viewers and which will create a negative reaction. Use that information to target products, services and content to meet the needs of your clientele.
Things change, and your industry will definitely face upheavals as your business ages. Scenario planning can help keep you ready to respond to your clients’ needs. To start scenario planning, think of five ways your industry might change in the next ten years. For each change, develop a timeline, different responses, and how customers might react to both the change and your actions. As you do so, you’ll find better ways to deliver exactly what your past and future clients need.
When your business is better able to adapt, you’ll be ahead of the competition. For example, a change in the US presidency removed the option for foreign startups with $250,000 in capital to get a visa. No longer being allowed to live and work in the US would be a major upheaval for a startup—and deciding how to deal with it before it became a reality would make startups who did so more responsive and able to adjust.
Scenario planning will give you a better chance of grabbing a large section of a market in upheaval. Plan today for success in giving your customers what they want tomorrow.
You can listen to what your clients think about your business and how they feel about any topic you target, but you also need to know who your clients are as people. Once you’ve done a market study to see who exactly is responding to your marketing and who is seeking out your business, you may find new ways to reach that segment of the population.
People may be more comfortable giving personal information like annual income, gender, family size, and employment status when it’s given anonymously. Consider linking customers to a feedback survey through your mailing list or in a follow-up email after they’ve purchased your services. You can also link it on your website and encourage people to click on it.
This information can help you create a target market, or show you where you’re marketing is weak and help you improve it. If you expect your service is mostly going to be used by corporations but most people who reach out to you are individual clients, for example, you might need to change your print marketing to focus more on corporate publications if you want your original market to grow. Alternately, you could focus on putting more marketing dollars to individuals, since they seem interested in your projects.
Follow the Customer’s Path
If you haven’t gone through the steps of being a customer at your own company, do it today. Looking at marketing, user experience, sales, and delivery through the eyes of a client is very different than seeing those things through the eyes of a person who is pushing a service. Issues that didn’t occur to you when the site and pathway from marketing to delivery was designed may make themselves clear as you navigate them yourself.
Approaching your business as a customer can help you streamline their experience once you’ve identified any slow or problematic areas. One example is how easy it is to use your website. Since you already know how to use it, enlist someone in your life to try it out as a test user and watch them as they navigate. If they struggle to answer questions or find the right information, it may be time to make changes.
Adding real-time intelligent customer interactions to the process can also help. If your website doesn’t offer a chat app where a person can ask questions—and your business can support one—consider adding it. It may help you keep customers who, frustrated by the Internet, would otherwise navigate away, for example.
To achieve business success, you must be ready to respond to your clients’ needs quickly and in a way that satisfies them. Direct feedback, figuring out what customers are feeling outside your business, planning for the future, market studies, and streamlined interaction are all ways to improve your responsiveness to customers. Once you’ve done so, you’re better positioned for success in both customer relations and marketing.