Sales, Marketing and Communication

What do your customers really think about you? Low budget answers

72 % of CEO’s around the world would like to improve their knowledge about the needs of their customers, according to research done by IBM.

And this makes perfectly good sense, because it will your company with an advantage, if you have an exact image of who your customers are and what they think of you.

IBM’s latest research among 1700 CEO’s show that more than 70 % of the executives wish to improve their knowledge about their customers meeds. Meanwhile, two of the biggest challenges for businesses are learning how to engage clients as individuals and also gather knowledge about how to do this.

This is why companies spend massive amounts of money on getting to know their customers better. But what do you do if your company doesn't have the funds to invest in large studies and reports?

On FastCompany’s webpage Tom Cates of the consultant company The Brookside Group suggests these four different approaches:

Ask them

This goes for both B2C and B2B. Ask both your best and your worst customers about the things yoy're doing right and the things you're doing wrong. Frequently run this kind of surveys and provide your customers with the chance of giving you feedback.

This means, that you should drop the annual questionnaire and replace it with a more individualized survey.

It is of no use working from gut feelings and assumptions. Tom Cates explains, that companies often overestimate the value of their weakest customers and underestimates the value of their strongest.

Find out what they are actually saying

Imagine this: You and your partner are arguing about a small yet reoccurring subject. 30 minutes later you ask you partner how he/she is doing, and the answer is “fine”. Experience shows, that things are definitely not “fine”, in fact “fine” can be translated into “I am not doing fine, but I do not want to talk about it right now”.

Tom Cates claims, that the same thing applies to the world of business. If your customers insist that everything is “fine” without giving a reason, it probably means that there is a problem but that they don't want to deal with it today.

It's not a good idea to let a problem grow in the shadows. Instead, work on getting to know your customers as individuals. Then you are more likely to predict future challenges. Also, be prepared to be ready when they need your help. Or even better: Offer help before the even ask.

Find out how involved they are

Are your customers actively involved in the collaboration? Are they generating new ideas with your team? Collaboration takes at least two parties, so if your customer isn't involved, you'll have to find ways of involving him.

Give your customers the degree of ownership they want of the project and recognize their effort when the project becomes a success.

Are you the first one they call?

If you're lucky enough to the first place you customers call when they have a problem, you are definitely on the right way. It gives you the opportunity to add value to the project from the get go, rather than getting included later on for the mere execution.

To be the first your customers call, indicates that your customers see you as an important and valuable partner and resource who helps their company grow.