5 ways to learn more about your customers

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We live in the age of information. Anybody anywhere has access to almost any kind of knowledge. This is good. But there is also the harmful element of over-communication. We are not even allowed to take time to respond to texts.

While psychiatrists, psychologists, and others figure out the deal with our new way of life, you can use the opportunity to learn more about your customers. Tastes are always changing, you can never really pin down what customers truly want. There are clever people, in the past, who claimed to have found our fundamental motivations. This way any marketer could at least tell why you want to buy anything. But their assertions remain contested, so we’ll steer away.

What is sure is that you have to learn enough about your customers to enjoy successful marketing. Your marketing efforts could be failing because you use the wrong channels. It could be that you are not investing as much as you need for the goals that you want – marketing is expensive.

Information from your​ customers can help you get your business going again. Perhaps you want to drop a products or launch a new one. Maybe you need to restructure your business. Your customers can help you make the right decisions.

Sophisticated tools for collecting this data is out of reach for the majority of small business in Kenya. Hopefully, that will change soon. Even so, small business owners are flexible and smart enough to gain from what is available to them.

Interview

It’s not just for new employees. Interviewing a selection of your customers can help you gain insight from their detailed responses. Your goal should be to make it as interactive as possible to enable the other party open up. You can do it one-on-one or through focus groups. The big advantage, here, is that engaging face-to-face helps you clarify things.

Observation

You know that people always present the best version of themselves. This is why more truth comes out of what they do rather than what they say. Once you prepare a checklist of the information you need, you can sit back (figuratively speaking) and watch what your customers do. It’s unbelievable to read Kenyan malls complain that much of their foot traffic consists of window shoppers. Someone didn’t do enough observations prior.

Survey

They say it’s impossible for anything to have the qualities of being fast, cheap and good. You can only have two of the three qualities. You have to compromise.

But Surveys come real close. You can conduct it physically, by full-on questionnaires or some satisfaction checker. You can also utilize free and freemium online tools, like Google Forms, to do the same and more. Surveys can give you more honest answers than interviews and more details than observation. The pitfall you should watch out for is your customers misinterpreting the questions. People see things differently.

Social media

One thing to note is that whatever you do on social media, not just gathering information, will only work if you have a well defined social media policy. Things over there are all over the place. You should know what you’re up to. Once you’ve ticked that checkbox you can draw immediate (or close) feedback from your customers. This can be done by launching campaigns, conducting polls or giving gifts to draw information (it’s not manipulative, don’t feel guilty).

Email

The classic. It has been surpassed by better equipped means. Just like long-distance travel buses will be by the SGR. But things can be repurposed. Someone suggested the buses will shift to luxury travel – and they don’t even have loyalty programs right now. Go buy a ticket and see. Anyway, an alternative you have with emails is speaking to your most valued customers. It’s weird, but emails are pretty personal. This can help in retaining your best customers.

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Web Content and stuff. You can reach me you know: editor@herbusiness.co.ke, malitrobert@gmail.com

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