Thanks to the digital revolution, today’s CMOs are facing great shifts in the nature of consumer to business relationships. Customers have access to more research tools and information than ever before, resulting in a more empowered, standards-based consumer. In response, businesses are held to a higher standard and must develop a greater understanding of their customer in order to meet – and hopefully exceed – expectations.
Here are three ways to get to know your customers better:
To better understand your customers as individuals, take a step back from numbers and statistics and implement a plan for qualitative interviews. Face-to-face conversations with customers allow CMOs to understand consumer feelings about their brand, and more importantly, the emotions behind them. Engage individuals in conversations to learn more about the motivations behind their decisions as consumers. If you prefer to gather data digitally, a personal email to a customer asking for feedback can also be effective in gaining this insight. Additionally, a blog post that elicits response in the comment section can be far more useful than something like an online survey, because it encourages open-ended response.
One of the most valuable trips a CMO can take is a walk in their customers’ shoes. While data analysis provides insight into consumer trends, nothing replaces putting yourself on the other side of the table. Visit your business’s locations to interface with customers and interact with team members, or participate in consumer conversations via social media. Read emails related to customer service, and consider asking the company’s service representatives for feedback on their daily interactions. Notice how your experience with the brand compares to interactions with other companies, and think of ways to make it better. At the end of the day, the CMO who participates in the business/consumer exchange is better prepared to serve both parties.
The empowered customer wants meaningful relationships with the companies they choose to do business with. Creating and cultivating a sense of community is crucial to success, and it offers countless opportunities to get to know your customers on a deeper level. First, focus on building an online community based on shared interests that relate to your brand. When your audience is engaged, consider taking it offline with information sessions or networking events. A community that exists both virtually and offline will provide valuable insight into what makes consumers tick, and will allow you to provide a more tailored experience for your customers. Your customers will notice your efforts to engage, and will be likely repay you with loyalty, long-term investment, and advocacy.
Photo credit: Dell’s Official Flickr Page