Know Your Customer

by Jeannie Walters

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Here’s the truth: Most companies don’t know their customers. They don’t know them as people, they don’t know their priorities. They don’t know them.

So one day they wake up. They realize they are out of touch. Some savvy marketer or customer service chief has a solution!

“Let’s take a survey!”

Surveys are a problem. Typically, they are a one-off solution grab. Because of this, they don’t work. Surveys, in theory, are a great idea. But they rarely give you the TRUE feedback you’re seeking. We answer surveys that promise discounts or sweepstakes, but often we are doing it while packing a kid’s lunch, balancing a corporate budget or talking to the employee in our office. It’s not a priority for us as customers. Some surveys, if consistently reviewed and tweaked, can offer some valuable information. But one-time-only surveys offer little more than a snapshot of the mood your customers happen to be in at the time. If they’re in a hurry, you’re getting the “let’s get out of here” version. “Sure, everything was fine. Whatever.”

“We’ll hold a focus group!”

Want to get me on a rant? Hold a focus group with a blowhard in it. And guess what? They all have a blowhard in there! There is always one person who loves to hear themselves talk and like it or not, they lead the group.

Here’s the thing about knowing your customers: it’s not a one-time thing. You have to understand who they are as an ongoing, evolving, shifting and daily exercise. It’s not simple. It’s a combination of honest feedback, observations, behavioral tracking, and more. There is nuance. There is uncertainty. There is change in your environment and theirs.

There is no quick fix. Instead, make knowing your customer part of your culture each and every day.

What are some of the ways you know your customers?

Photo credit: John Kroll via Creative Commons license

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, LinkedIn Learning instructor, TEDx speaker, and President-Elect of the National Speakers Association Illinois chapter. Learn more here.

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