So how well do you know your customers and what do you do to try and get to know them?
Understanding customers is not just confined to profit-making organisations, it is also an essential strategy for non-profit making organisations. Local Government, improvement and development explain how customer insight is rapidly rising up the agenda of public sector organizations. Understanding customers and citizens should be at the centre of all public organisations. Customer insight is one of the key tools available to enable businesses, councils, hospitals, education providers to name but a few, to redesign services and products in ways that save money and improve customer satisfaction.
Customer insight should be an essential and core part of what ‘every’ organisation and business do, whether it be a service or product, the customer is the reason that the organisation/ business exists in the first place. How much do you do in terms of understanding what it is your customer actually wants? Needs change over time, equally customers also change; this can be in terms of what they are looking for, what they might want or what they require. How do you ensure you keep up to date with these requirements?
Here are some suggestions of ways you can ensure the customer is at the centre of everything you do:
• Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Understanding your customers requires you to look at the points at which your customers have contact with your business. Explore your business processes, and understand every point and contact at which your customer engages you or your business. This includes meetings, face-to-face or online, visits, phone calls, correspondence and deliveries. What might customers think when they arrive on site or in your shop, is there adequate parking, is your receptionist and staff friendly and helpful and how do your staff answer calls? These are all factors that can result in a good or bad customer experience. Resulting in losing or returning customers. Word of mouth following this experience can then go on to be your strongest marketing tool. It’s totally free too!
The most common customer complaint is being kept waiting, we lead busy lives and many of us know what we want and when we want it. Making the customer wait, whether it be on the end of a phone or to make a purchase at a till is not what a customer wants. Customers want you to deliver what you have promised and surpass their expectations. How can ensure that your customers do not have to wait, and if they do, can you explain why or make it up to them in some way? Don’t ignore mistakes, we all make them, but we need to ensure we address them. Understanding your customers and improving your service must be a priority throughout your business.
• Understand your customers through data. A database or customer relationship management system (CRM) holds valuable information about your customers that will help you to understand your customer’s needs. Analyse the data you hold on your customers, it can tell you a lot about your customer. Social Media has changed the way organisations and companies can use your personal information, likes and dislikes and activity to understand what it is customers want. Social Media is also a quick and easy tool for surveying customers.
• Ask your customers what they think. Social Media is a quick and easy tool for surveying customers. Conduct a customer satisfaction survey and you will make your customers feel valued whilst also gaining invaluable insights. It is important to make changes or tailor your services according to customer feedback and informing them on what you decide to do or risk losing those customers who took the time to suggest or recommend the changes. Twitter, Facebook amongst others all provide ways in which you can engage in conversation with your customer and talk to them immediately after they have visited you or just a way to keep in touch with them. Get on the wrong side of a customer and Facebook or Twitter can be fatal in destroying your brand reputation. Remember bad news sells.
As well as asking for feedback, set up a customer contact programme to ensure you keep in touch with your customers/ clients. A good customer contact strategy will allow you to listen to your customers and tell them more about what you offer.
Businesses and Organisations need to open up their strategies to their customers, partners and stakeholders. They need to not only understand their customers but also ensure they know their customer.
Do you have any good examples of ways you have tried to understand or get to know your customers? Let us know. Email firstname.lastname@example.org