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When you truly understand your customer base, you can create products, marketing messages, and experiences that are more impactful and resonate stronger.
Yet, 2020 data from Hubspot found that 42 percent of organizations don’t survey their customer base or even collect feedback. Perhaps that’s why only 12 percent of consumers actually believe a business when they say they put the customer first.
Consumers are living in a world where they encounter hundreds of marketing messages each day. By truly knowing your customers, speaking their language, addressing their specific pain points, and talking with them (not at them), you can stand out and win them over.
That’s not the only benefit, however. Consider the many reasons why truly knowing your customers matters so much. More importantly, learn how to use these benefits as jumping-off points for your promotional materials and business practices.
You Can Give Them the Experience They Want
By knowing your customers, you can tailor your customer experience to their needs. While each business’s audience will be looking for something different, start with the base-level needs of the average consumer.
There are four specific things they’re looking for in great customer experience, according to 2020 PWC data:
- Helpful employees
- Friendly service
Knowing that customers want this experience, and then providing them with that experience is the first step to customer experience success. However, if you get it wrong, you miss a big opportunity. PWC also found that one in three consumers will walk away from brands they love after just one bad experience.
Law firms provide a great example of getting customer experience right. Most legal clients are in distress and need support and convenient solutions. Yet many large legal companies will leverage their size and fighting power rather than listening and supporting.
“I have too often heard from new clients that they were working with another law firm and they got passed along to junior attorneys or even non-legal staff and never had a chance to interact with the lawyer they hired,” says Scott J. Corwin, attorney and president of Scott J. Corwin, A Professional Law Corporation.
He continues: “They often say to me no one cared… [like they are] just another number or paycheck to that other attorney.” By knowing what his customers actually want, he can build his practice around the customer.
This is truly a customer-first approach that shows he knows what his clients want and need. This experience will keep clients coming back again and again.
Develop the connection: Listen to what your customers and clients say about competitors. What do they complain about? What do they praise them for? Look for patterns, like how Corwin noticed clients felt upset that they were being “passed along” to junior attorneys. This is a gap that you can fill with customer-first practices that help you develop those deeper connections.
You Can Respond Quickly to Changing Environments
Very few brands were prepared for the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Even companies that stood to benefit, like grocery stores, didn’t know how to react in a way that assured customers and employees alike. As a result, many companies ended up using tone-deaf messaging that didn’t resonate, and in some cases, drove bad press.
For example, the Florida-based grocery Publix initially banned employees from wearing masks at all because they didn’t want customers to get scared. In reality, we now know customers feel more safe when others are wearing masks.
Knowing your customers means having the power to respond quickly to their actual needs. This knowledge allows you to make smart decisions that you know will resonate with your target audiences. For a counter-example, consider the actions of the cleaning company SERVPRO:
“Our teams are working with various small businesses in their communities, such as restaurants, retail stores and more, to offer our ‘Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned’ certification to give customers peace of mind that the facility has been deep-cleaned and sanitized,” says Michael Stahl, CMO at SERVPRO.
Stahl knows that customers are wary of how companies are sanitizing, and more importantly, need to assure their own customer base that their locations are clean and safe. By offering certification, SERVPRO elevates their own brand while building a stronger rapport with their customers.
Develop the connection: If you don’t already know this, the best way to quickly respond to your clients and customers needs is to get into a conversation with them as soon as possible. While you can quickly send out a survey, go the extra mile and reach out personally to your top customers and clients. Use this opportunity to not only show that you care, but also find out how you can best serve them and then put a plan together to make that happen.
You Can Reduce Customer Complaints and Increase Retention
Knowing your customer doesn’t just mean you can market to them better. It also means you can resolve customer complaints more effectively. Your customer care team can develop concrete solutions to problems customers experience and can proactively offer these fixes before customers become agitated.
You can see this customer care in airline brands, which are traditionally difficult to work with and offer poor customer service. Southwest Airlines continually tops the charts of airline brands consumers love, in part, because they know what their customers want: good prices and great customer service.
According to data analysis from Upgraded Points, Southwest averages fewer than five complaints per month, per 10,000 customers. The important thing to note here is that these positive experiences are more than just a benefit: they stick with customers and will help your company in the long run.
In fact, a 2018 survey from Gladly found 92 percent of customers would stop purchasing from a company after three (or less) poor customer service experiences. Conversely, 68 percent of customers said they would pay more if a company has great customer service.
The investments you make in your customer service can pay off down the road, with fewer lost customers, higher retention rates and a better marketing ROI.
Develop the connection: Collect your feedback data, both quantifiable and qualitative, to begin uncovering your customer experience gaps. Don’t forget to take into account benchmark data, like the airline analysis above, to compare yourself to others in the industry. Where does the average stand and where do you fall?
Take Time to Get to Know Your Customers
Learning about your customers takes time. It requires analysis that includes a blend of quantitative data and qualitative stories from your target audience. You need to rely on your analytics tools along with customer representative anecdotes and focus groups, but knowing what people want when they engage with your brand is an essential ingredient for business growth and success.