Today I am pleased to present another guest post by Kena Amoah.

Understanding customers has been echoed by a lot of writers and bloggers. It is one of – if not the – most important factors for a successful business. The main reason for collecting information about customers is to improve the quality of the service you provide, hence gains their loyalty.  A business cannot survive without making ongoing efforts to better understand customer needs, making customer care the number one priority of every business.

Knowing your customers could be for various reasons, no matter the reason it should result in improvements or a better relationship.  Also, great customer care involves getting to know your customers so well that you can anticipate and determine their needs and exceed their expectations. But how can this be realized? Based on the nature, diversity, demographic characteristics, and how large the customer segment is, there are different ways to better understand them. However, there are some basic approaches that can be applied by every business to understand its customers.

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. If you are part of a management team of a business, you are a customer to other businesses or even to the business you manage. This makes it extremely easy to position yourself as your target customers. Try to answer the following questions “Am I safe with this product or service?” or “If I was using this product or service, what could I have demanded for versus what is currently provided?” Answering these questions will help you improve your business.

Understanding customers also demands figuring out the points at which your customers reach your business. These could be meetings and visits, phone calls, correspondence, and deliveries. For instance, if it is through visits they reach you, then a good reception will do the magic. If it is any of the other channels, make sure things are made easier for them to freely contact you. With this, customers relate better and tell you what they think about your product or service.

Using data to understand your customers is part of the game. Does your database or customer relationship management system (CRM) holds valuable information about your customers? If not, then have a system that will. With a database that holds relevant information about your customers, patterns can be identified. Such patterns can help predict customer-buying behaviors and adjustments thereby can be made.

Know your competition. Researching the competition will provide valuable insights. If you researched about the best-performing company(ies) in your industry, it will reveal to you what  customers want. On the other hand, researching into the poor-performing company(ies) will reveal to you what customers detest.

The most important of all is direct feedback. Reaching your customers directly by picking up the phone and having direct contact with them is the most enlightening customer feedback you can get. It guarantees nothing but a personal conversation that will give you an opportunity to better understand your customers and their preferences.

In addition to the above, ask your customers what they think. Conducting a customer satisfaction survey is a very important way of unveiling customer preferences. You will gain valuable insights.  An additional benefit is that it will help to make your customers feel valued. However, clearly identifying your different customer groups before you carry out the survey will help you to select questions that are most relevant to each customer.

In a nutshell, every member of your business, from the front desk to the delivery staff, should focus on exceeding customer expectations. Understanding The Customers is Key.