One of the factors that separate success and failure in business is the ability to understand what customers want.
You just can’t build a business based on what YOU want and expect people to come. You need to know what your target customers want – and give it to them. Knowing your customers want can help you increase sales, loyalty and profits.
The most successful businesses make it their mission to understand their customers and find out what they want. Apple is even ahead of the game: they create innovative products that consumers don’t even know they want, but once produced, cannot live without.
The first step is to look at your customers motivations in dealing with you. As George Rodriguez in the article “5 Questions to Help You Understand Your Customer”
“Customers are not created equal. They come and buy from you for different reasons based on different motivations. Some buy because they find your price to be the lowest, some because they find your services to be outstanding, while some purchase from you because of your reputation in the industry.”
He gave a list of questions to help you find out your customers’ motivations:
- Why does your customer buy?
- How much of the customer’s total business do you have compared with your competitors?
- How does your customer see you?
- How difficult is it for the customer to shift to your competitor?
- What does the customer expect after a sale?
One of the common mistakes of small entrepreneurs is that they don’t bother asking what their customers are thinking. They simply wait until customers complain before getting serious about getting feedback. This is made even worse with online review sites or social media sites like Twitter where your customer may vent against you in front of thousands, if not millions. And that’s the last thing you want.
To help you get insights to what customers want, here are some simple things you can do:
- In every communication you send out, such as invoices, emails or letters, be sure to put in your email address (or feedback-related email address) and encourage recipients to “Please let me know if you have any concerns, feedback or suggestions.”
- Monitor the Web through tools such as Google Alerts, setting up searches for your business name, website address or product name. This will allow you to scan the Web to find out what others are saying about you.
- Create a Twitter account, and be sure to track mentions about you. Also save searches on your business name, website, product name or even your name (especially if you’re the sole owner).
- Look at your top competitors (e.g. the top dogs in your industry). Try to find out what they’re doing differently that customers flock to them in droves. They must be doing something that the customers (who should be YOUR customers) actually like. Then improve on their ideas even just by 10%.
- If you have employees who deal with customers, talk to them. Ask them how customers react. Probe them as to what customers complain about, or wish your business offers.
If you give people what they want, the way they want, you are much more likely to turn them into satisfied customers.