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Gather Customer Insights with these 6 Tactics

Dec 12, 2020
Gather Customer Insights with these 6 Tactics

If you really wanted to win somebody over, what would you be most likely to do? Probably research that person’s background, digging deep to find out their likes and dislikes, and uncover what really matters to them. You’d learn their deepest desires and fears.

So why don’t we do the same for our customers? We try to sell products to them without really knowing anything at all about who we’re selling to. And yet each business’s customer base is completely unique. Marketing and sales success depends on knowing your customers intimately.

Customer experience (CX) encompasses all interactions that a customer has with your brand. It includes both marketing and support – but it’s only as successful as the information you have about your customers. The difference is crucial: organizations leading in CX outperform their competitors by 80%.

The more successful you are with your customers, the more successful your business will be. If you want to ensure that your customers have the best experience possible with your organization, it’s critical to gather as much information as possible about your target audience.

Read on for techniques to gain more insights into your customers.

1. Take the Time to Talk to Customers

If it’s within your realm of influence, remove the barriers between you and your customers. Make it a habit to talk to customers at all stages of your relationship with them. From prospective customers, to brand new customers, to long-term customers - you can learn something from every single one.

For example, Alex Turnbull CEO of Groove schedules regular phone calls with his customers, and at one point he spent more than 100 hours in 4 weeks talking to customers. By talking to customers, you’ll gain much deeper insights that can help with improving your marketing workflow.

Ultimately, customers say they want more human service from businesses. It doesn’t get any more human than learning about your customers by talking to them. “You’ll learn more in a day talking to customers than a week of brainstorming, a month of watching competitors, or a year of market research,” says Aaron Levie, co-founder of Box.

When we learn more about our customers, we are giving something to them. This means they are more likely to want to give something back. This is known in social psychology terms as the reciprocity principle. It’s one of the main drivers behind content marketing in general – you give something useful first, and gain prospective customers in return.

2. Search Reviews, Forums, and Social Media

As we’ve already observed, successful marketing relies on being able to find out as much as possible about our customers. Sometimes, for whatever reason, it’s not possible or desirable to talk directly to your customers. There’s a ton of work involved, and customers don’t always feel comfortable opening up.

Luckily, there is an ocean of information already out there regarding your customers and their experiences. As Bill Gates famously said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

People are constantly posting reviews online, asking questions in forums, and talking about you on social media.

  • Check out sites like Amazon, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Capterra for reviews.
  • Popular forums like Reddit, Quora, and Mumsnet are often places where people discuss products.

  • Social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook still see a huge amount of conversations around brands. Use social listening software BuzzSumo or Mention to monitor for brand and product conversations.

Sometimes your customers will even write whole blog posts reviewing your products – don’t ignore these! Engage with influencers and show appreciation for the time they have taken to review your products, perhaps rewarding them with free samples or subscriptions. They may be willing to provide even more in-depth feedback about your products if they have already taken the time to write posts about them.

3. Mine Support Data

Customer support data can be a rich source of information for customer insights and by making use of ticketing software, you’ll be able to store and mine all that date. Additionally, you can talk directly to support reps about the issues that matter most to your customers.

Support conversations are important since 84% of customers are frustrated by agents who don’t have the relevant information and 86% will pay more for great customer service. Unfortunately, only 1 in 26 unhappy customers actually complain to you, and the rest just churn without explanation.

Your support software should allow you to search past conversations. If you tag your customer support conversations in your help desk software with your own internally meaningful words or phrases, you can later search back through them more easily. Onboarding emails are a great place to ask your customers why they started using your product, and sending an exit email to churning customers asking for feedback is also illuminating.

Live chat tools can provide a direct line to your customers by helping you engage with them in real-time. You’re likely to get more granular feedback with live chat conversations since customers are right in the midst of their issues.

Chatbots can be another great source for mining support conversations. You can look at analytics to see the types of questions your customers are asking as well as whether your chatbots are helping direct customers to take specific actions and if not, where the bottlenecks are.

“The more information you can learn about the customer, the better you can serve their needs, and the more valuable the relationship becomes,” says Tien Tzuo, co-founder of Zuora, in his book Subscribed.

4. Send Customer Surveys

When conducting your support conversations, you can make a tiny tweak to your closing email that makes it more likely customers will give you feedback. You can include a link to a short customer survey.

Surveys can help you gather qualitative data rather than simply raw data. You can tailor your surveys to gather more specific information about your customers, instead of trawling for tidbits on external websites. The survey can be targeted and phrased as a particular question to collect standardized metrics.

For example, you can use surveys that measure Net Promoter Score (NPS) or Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) to help you solicit data for useful metrics.

  • Using NPS can be a good predictor of customer loyalty, and loyal customers are five times more likely to make a repeat purchase from your company.
  • CSAT score measures how your customer feels about a specific interaction or product of yours. The more satisfied a customer feels, the more likely they view their experience with your company from a positive perspective. In turn, this helps with making them more loyal.

Survey software like Survey Monkey, Nicereply, and GetFeedback help you send out beautiful branded surveys to your customers.

5. Use Customer Intelligence Software

There is a huge amount of data already available through your company website or software product. Integrating the right software with your brand platform can give you a more nuanced view of your customers’ data without requiring much technical know-how to implement.

Software like FullStory or Hotjar can help you track how customers are interacting with your software using session playback. Hotjar employs heat maps and visitor recordings to show you your customer’s journey through your website, and you can find out information like who spends the most time on your site and where they spend it. It also helps you understand where your customer pain points are, and which are your most-used features or pages.

You can use Google Analytics to collect customer data, learn about their demographics, and the content they’re most interested in on your website. You can find out your most common referrers to your site, and the journey customers typically take once they get there.

6. Check Your Knowledge Base Analytics

A customer-facing knowledge base is a crucial part of your self-service support strategy. It’s a branded website that contains help content to assist your customers in using your products or services.

Analytics from a properly managed knowledge base can give you key insights into the customer experience and the kinds of topics that interest your customers most. For example, if your ‘Add new user’ page gets some of the highest traffic of all your content, you can suspect that you have a UX problem in your software.

You can also administer surveys through your knowledge base to help you gain more actionable insights from the data. Surveys have the potential to give you a more nuanced interpretation of the actions your customers are taking in your knowledge base.

For example, you can use a pre-support screening survey asking customers what they’re looking for and collect this data. You can also send an exit-intent survey for customers who didn’t seem to find what they need.

Alternatively, you can use a standard on-page feedback form with the question ‘Was this article helpful?’, alongside the option to vote yes or no. This kind of survey works well because you can incorporate them directly into the customer experience, instead of interrupting customers or distracting them from a task.

What to do With Your Customer Insights?

Customer knowledge management refers to the tools and processes you use to manage the data you hold internally about your customers. It includes personal information, demographic and psychographic data, purchase history, and previous customer service interactions.

Being able to collate this data effectively is what enables you to deliver more personalized customer experiences consistently. This is why you need to invest in knowledge management tools (for example a CRM for customer information or a knowledge base for documentation) to help you store all this information in a centralized location.

Unfortunately, only 41% of marketing reps are using customer engagement data to inform their strategy. And yet, according to Gartner, by 2020 more than 40% of data analytics projects will focus on an aspect of customer experience.

Close the Gap Between You and Your Customers

Understanding your customers is integral for business growth, and successfully increasing your revenue. Customer success is about being able to extract and leverage data to allow your business to better support your customers. You can then give a far more personalized experience that improves customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, and the overall Customer Experience.

We don’t want to alienate our customers by pushing products at them that they don’t want – an approach that will only have them running for our competitors. We must know our customers inside out and genuinely respect them.

With all this information at our fingertips, we have no excuse to turn around and say we don’t really know our customers. Our customers are telling us what they think, and how they feel, every day. Listen to them.

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