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Marketing Insights for Entrepreneurs

How to Figure Out What Your Customers Really Want

You built your company because you saw a demand and swooped in with your expertise, all with the aim of helping customers.

But sometimes you’ve got to get up close and personal with your customers and take a good hard look at what you’re giving them. You need to ask: Am I giving them what they want?

Us entrepreneurs spend so much time honing our products and services that sometimes we forget the importance of understanding our customers. And with our busy schedules, there’s not enough time in the day to call every customer to find out what makes them tick.

B2B, B2C, or something in between– it doesn’t matter. We all need to be mindful of what our customers want. Here are 7 ways to figure it out:

1. Pick Up The Phone

You probably don’t have time to call every customer you’ve ever had (we certainly don’t!), but you can squeeze in a few conversations. Put together a series of questions, reach out to your customers to schedule some calls, and set aside 30 minutes to pick their brains. Don’t just ask them about how they use your products—figure out what other services they use and what their pain points are.

2. Collect Data at Sign Up… And Use It

When your customers come to you for the first time, ask them for some information. You might find out what industry they’re in, how often they online shop, or what types of TV shows they like. Ask them questions to figure out how you can serve them best. Need an example of how you can use this data? If you find out some of your customers work in real estate, you can create content and resources specifically for them, then set up a targeted email campaign laden with the helpful info.

3. Check Out How They’re Using You

If all your customers buy a certain package or product, take note! You can use this information to adjust what you offer. If customers can log in to your online portal, figure out how often they do so, what buttons they click, and what features are their favorites. That way, you can perfect services they’re already using and figure out ways to promote the ones they’re not.

4. Send a Survey

If you’ve created a healthy customer list, send a survey. This is a great way of finding out more information about your customers. You can easily set up surveys using sites like SurveyMonkey, PopSurvey, and Wufoo. These platforms not only allow you to set up a survey easily, but will also help you set up custom reports.

5. Follow Customers on Social Media

A great way to keep tabs on your customers is to find out what they’re doing in their day-to-day lives. Following them on sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook can help you figure out what they’re sharing, why they’re sharing it, how connected they are, and what other services they use. Create a list of customers so that you can easily keep tabs on them.

6. Catalog Requests, Compliments, and Complaints

You can’t figure out what your customers actually want unless you keep a comprehensive list. Every time a customer tells you something, make note of it. Keep it in a spreadsheet or in a Customer Relationship Management System (CRM), then comb through the data to figure out what issues keep cropping up.

7. Read Reviews

Your customers are more likely to be honest with review sites like Yelp and Angie’s List and on their own blogs than directly with you, so read up on what they’re saying. It’s great to respond to the reviews, but make sure you’re bettering your services based on what customers are saying.

8. Put Yourself in Their Shoes

Close your eyes and take a minute to step away from your business and put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Think about their toughest questions, favorite parts of their day, and probable budgets. Daydream about their morning commute, their dinner plans, and their approach to business. Your customers may love your services, but they’re them, not you.

Feedback to Reality

Once you get a grasp on what your customers are looking for, it’s up to you to decide how to proceed. You might tackle their top requests or decide to perfect your product for a certain niche within your customer base. You can even decide to do nothing–but that’s probably not a good idea.

Should you do exactly what customers say? Well, no. It doesn’t make sense to bend to every customer’s demands, but it does make sense to figure out their biggest pain points to see if you can accommodate them.

Do you agree that it’s important to figure out what customers want? How do you go about it? Please share insights and suggestions in the comments below!