Then you are interested in what they think of you, since that will drive not only whether they purchase your product or service, but other things, too. Like:
- What do think of your product / service?
- Will they buy again?
- How will you know what they think unless they tell you?
- What kind of review will they give you (on-line or off-line)?
- What kind of influence will their experience have on how others think of you?
The basic ideas behind Customer Experience (or CX as it has come to be known) have been around for awhile. Think about when you walk into an office or a store of some kind. The initial impression of location, attractiveness, and the employees’ attitude towards you all contribute to the CX. It could be all over the place as to your experience, but that was, and is, a huge part of it In Real Life (IRL, for those of you who like acronyms…).
For a number of businesses, that’s still as far as they go today. Sadly for them, the customers today expect more and are much less forgiving. There is so much more to CX today, and since most customers discover and decide on products increasingly online, it changes the game. There has always been a “customer journey“, but now these folks are on the journey a long time before they walk through your front door or call you up. You have the chance to raise the awareness among them of who you are, and gain credibility and trust, but the levers for doing this are more and more in their hands and NOT yours. They go to the various places online, on some of which you have a presence (your web site, your Facebook Business Page, your Yelp page, your LinkedIn profile and business page) and some where they “come across” you and mentions of you (search engines, Facebook mentions by others, customer forums where others make recommendations, etc.). Some may be in the market for what you’re selling, and others are “just looking” or have found something of interest that you’ve published, or that someone else has published that refers to you, your product, or your service. In fact, they may just be looking for information because they have an interest or passion for it…..no one is on the Internet to be sold to, right?!
Knowing your customer, knowing your audience….these are the cornerstones of growing your business and being sure that you shape what you sell and what you do to what they really need and want. It sounds pretty basic, yet because of that, many businesses blow past it and get to the SELL part before they understand…..REALLY UNDERSTAND…to whom they sell and why.
Usually you have an idea of who your Primary (or Alpha) Customer is when you start your business, otherwise you’d be starving now. Whether that was a complete picture of them or not, here you are, and you have some customers…..GREAT! However, you’d like them to grow in number, return for repeat sales, and refer / recommend you to others so you can grow your business and, eventually, retire to that condo in Fiji that you have a picture of hanging on your office wall. You’ve gotten some reviews, mostly pretty positive, and a few not so positive. You have what you feel is a reasonable number of customer service calls to resolve, so you keep plugging away.
Does this kind of sound like your situation today? There are a number of ways to grow your business from this point, but central to them is getting a clearer, more comprehensive view of your audiences. Notice I wrote “audiences“…..you probably have more than one or two. Figure out the different groups that are interested in you and your products / services. Discover how to reach them in ways that gain you more “friend of mine” consideration (which is more valuable than “top of mind” consideration….think about it: wouldn’t you rather purchase from a trusted friend?). Start leveraging that invaluable customer service and negative review feedback to improve your products and business processes. These kinds of “projects”, that become Continuous Improvement Processes (CIP, again for the acronym lover in you….) are what will drive your business growth and result in a committed and passionate community of fans who happen to be loyal customers….the Best Kind!
This kind of audience and customer research can get pretty intense. There are a lot of resources, but you may not know how to use them effectively, or even where they exist (beyond your customer service logs, online reviews, and face-to-face contact…..). Get some professional help and you can start on the road to growth, marketing effectiveness, and much more trusting relationships with your customers.