Put simply, no business can survive without best understanding what their customers’ needs and expectations of their product or service is. Understanding customer needs is particularly true in the digital age in which we now live. Human nature dictates that we are quicker to give a bad review than a good one. As soon as someone posts on their Facebook profile that they had a bad experience it seems to be shared everywhere and have comments made on it of similar stories.
A customer’s opinion shared on social media can literally make or break a small business and its for this reason that understanding exactly what the customer wants is vital nowadays.
Everything your business does needs to have the customer at heart and create ways that they’ll keep coming back.
Luckily there are some simple ways in which to do this.
1) Listen to your customers.
Whether face-to-face, on the phone or in a follow up email thank your customer for their purchase and ask them why they chose you. This is a simple market research analysis and the information you receive will be useful for future marketing purposes.
2) Empathise with your customers.
When a customer offers you feedback, positive or negative, listen to their story and acknowledge that you understand their position. Getting this step right will help to avoid bad reviews online.
The customer simply wants to know that they are being understood and someone is going to help them. Put yourself in their position, if you had an issue with a product or service you had purchased how would you feel?
Treat the customer as you would like someone to treat your mother and you’ll never fail on this hurdle.
3) Offer free product demonstrations or to “trial” a service.
This has more importance if you have a new product or service so as to prove to people just how good it is. Contact journalists or customers who frequently use social media and offer them free trial use in return for a review.
If you have a service that can’t be offered on a trial basis, can you build a portfolio of happy customers, create an entry level product (newsletter or a “xx” off voucher for example) that you can give away in order to prove your level of knowledge and experience?
There’s lots that can be done for this, the key is to build your brand awareness and create a real buzz around your business.
4) Study your competitors’ customer needs
Ok to be honest, this is a funny one, because the truth is if you’ve found your niche i.e. the one thing that you can do better than anyone else – then you have no competition!
In reality though there will be some degree of cross over between your business and others so you need to learn exactly what they do and how they do it.
In doing this you are seeking to learn:
- a) How can you do better than them?
- b) What are they missing that you can add to your product/ service?
When you discover these things out you can instantly become the value product in the market and will know how to over deliver in order to “Wow” your customer
5) Give customers options.
In business it’s impossible to cater to everybody, but you should have options that cater to as many people as you can reach. After all, one person may value a product or service more or less than another person.
Start by selling your “Rolls Royce” product – the one they all want. If this is not suitable, sell your next product down, or 1 below that and so on until (if possible) you meet a price point your customer can afford. If there is no agreement on price the client isn’t a customer to you, don’t go lower just to “secure a sale”
6) Reassure customers that what you’re selling will work for them.
Money back guarantees, warrantees, 30 day “think about it” policies work great. They give the customer time to think about what they are investing in and check that it will work for them. This will also lead to a more satisfied customer base as everybody on your list has accepted that you have the right product or service to suit their needs exactly.
We hope this helps you to build out your products and make sure they match your customers’ needs.