A retail shop owner talks to a customer in his shop. Both men are smiling while they are engaged in a conversation.
In addition to talking to the end consumer about your product or service, data like email exchanges, call transcripts, and chat logs can be an invaluable resource. — Getty Images/Nitat Termmee

Successful entrepreneurs understand one thing: To grow sustainably, your brand needs to deliver value continuously. Your business needs to sell a product, service, or experience that customers want to buy.

However, value is in the eye of the beholder. For your brand to create value, you must understand your customers on a deeper level.

What are the challenges, beliefs, and needs that your company can solve for your customers? Get to know your customers better to continuously develop products and services that build brand loyalty and profitability.

Dive into your data

Your company generates tons of data in the course of doing business. This data is a goldmine for learning more about your customers.

“Aggregated data can hide critical insights. It is the granular information about your customers’ behavior and experience that will render the most valuable insights required to continuously improve your customers’ experience and business results,” wrote Wired.

You may already be extracting some customer insights from your data — such as your customer demographics, purchasing behavior, and website interactions. There’s more you can learn, however.

Look at your customer service call transcripts, chat logs, and email exchanges to understand customer pain points, identify areas for improvement, and measure service satisfaction. Analyze how product features are used to identify popular functionalities, discover usability issues, and inform product road map decisions.

Third-party tools can perform social listening, monitoring your brand mentions to understand customer perception and identify potential issues or opportunities. These platforms can also analyze online reviews and provide a Net Promoter Score, a measure of customer loyalty and and brand perception.

The ultimate goal of engagement is to build an emotional connection with the brand ... It’s not a single transaction, but an ongoing conversation. You can’t expect customers to tune in only when you have a product to launch. You need to have a constant presence.

Mohanbir Sawhney, Associate Dean, Digital Innovation, and a Clinical Professor of Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University

Spend time with customers

It may seem obvious, but the best way to get to know your customers is to spend quality time with them.

“Typical brand managers might spend a day or two a year in retail stores, and less than that at the account headquarters where their products are actually sold to their retail partners,” wrote the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. “They spend a few more days talking to their consumers in sterile focus groups but rarely venture into their kitchens, living rooms, and bathrooms where their products are actually used.”

Even small business owners can be disconnected from their customers, especially if they sell online. Rather than host a focus group, spend time with the customer when they’re using your product or service in their natural environment.

Business-to-business companies should make an effort to spend time with the end user rather than their direct clients. The end user can tell you much more about your product’s benefits, flaws, and competitive advantage than your immediate clients. The end users are the ones who will use it every day.

“Observing consumers as they use your product or receive your service is the perfect chance to understand which features create value, which ones are never used, and which ones actually get in the way,” wrote Kellogg.

[Read more: 6 Effective Tips for Getting to Know Your Customers]

Maintain constant dialogue with consumers

It’s not enough to occasionally send a survey around to ask customers what they think. You’ll learn more when your followers feel like they have a genuine relationship with your company. That relationship entails keeping a sustained, consistent conversation going.

“The ultimate goal of engagement is to build an emotional connection with the brand,” said Mohanbir Sawhney, Associate Dean, Digital Innovation, and a Clinical Professor of Marketing at Kellogg. “It’s a process that leads to intimacy and advocacy. It’s not a single transaction, but an ongoing conversation. You can’t expect customers to tune in only when you have a product to launch. You need to have a constant presence.”

Use your social media and email marketing to constantly check in and engage with customers. When someone leaves you feedback, respond to it promptly and show that you value the time it took to provide that feedback. It’s easier to get to know your customers when they believe you are listening.

[Read more: Survey Says...? Here's How to Ensure Your Customers Fill Out Feedback Surveys]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Applications are open for the CO—100! Now is your chance to join an exclusive group of outstanding small businesses. Share your story with us — apply today.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

Brought to you by
Dedicated to turning our advantage into yours.
Unmatched 5G network : Get work done where your business happens with the speed, bandwidth, and reliability your business needs.
Learn More
Published