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Why knowing your customers matters

Jun 1, 2018 | 3 minutes read | Entrepreneurship

There are a lot of people out there waiting to give you advice about running your business. Every five people you ask, you’ll get (at least!) five different answers, but there’s one thing that should be agreed upon by all: if you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business.

You should have your customers in mind with every business decision you make, and you’re going to need to have hard data to be sure you’re making the right ones. Knowing your customers also means you can give them a more customized experience, which is a key factor in creating loyalty and repeat business.

So what exactly do you need to know?

Who they are

If you’re selling direct to customers, you should start with the basics: gender, age, location and occupation. If you’re selling to other businesses, determine their industry, what they do, and how big they are. Knowing the basics about your customers allows you to get an initial gauge on what they’re looking for, and if there are patterns or commonalities, it provides you with the potential to find similar customers.

    Why they buy

    If you can figure out why they’re buying, you can try to amend your product so that it fulfills their specific needs. But more importantly, they’re interested in what your product can do to make life easier for them. How it’s going to improve their lives means more than the details of the product itself.

    When they buy

    If you’re communicating with a customer around the time they’re looking to purchase, it increases your chance of success. Similarly, knowing where they are in their purchasing cycle will allow you to customize your efforts. If you have a product customers tend to buy habitually , familiarizing yourself with their purchasing schedule or habits will allow you to be proactive with your promotions or communications.

    How they buy

    If you know all your customers prefer to buy online, why are you paying rent for brick and mortar? On the other hand, if your product is only offered online but most of your customers feel more confident purchasing from a sales agent they can speak to in person, you’ll have to amend your sales strategy. Making the purchase as seamless as possible for your customer means they will probably come back to do it again.

    How much money they have

    Sell your customers what you know they can afford. If most of your customers are on a limited budget, it probably doesn’t make sense to sell a luxury version of your product any time soon. Make it easier for them to buy what you’re selling; not harder. If your current client base doesn’t have the means to become regular customers, use the information you have to find a new customer base with deeper pockets.

    What they want from you

    If your customers want longer hours instead of more agents, stop hiring new agents and keep the ones you’ve got for a few more hours a week. If they’re willing to pay more for delivery to avoid getting products late, start using a delivery service that you know costs a bit more, but is more dependable. Do what they tell you they want, not what you think they want. If you have the data, use it! This will allow you to plan, and control the next phase in their buying process by addressing issues important to the customer.

    What they think about you…and your competitors

    If you receive a complaint about a product or service, resolve it quickly, efficiently and effectively. An unhappy customer will not only stop buying your product, they’ll prevent other people they know from buying your product as well by sharing their experience. If your customers enjoy dealing with you, they’re likely to buy more. And if they’re telling you what they like or dislike about your competition, use that information to your advantage.

    Your customers won’t necessarily tell you their requirements; you’ll need to ask them. There are lots of avenues you can take to collect their information and opinions. Conduct focus groups. Read online message boards, blogs or social media comments. Speak to your sales associates. Get creative and switch it up. Procure your customers’ shopping habits and behaviors from everywhere you can, so you can get the big picture.

    Why is any of this important?

    It optimizes your marketing budget

    The more targeted your approach is, the more effective your results will be.

    You’ll experience higher engagement

    If you speak about the same things your customers care about, in the same language, your customers are going to listen.

    You’ll get a leg up on the competition

    The more you know your customer, the more targeted your offers can be. By giving the customers exactly what they want, they’ll be less likely to care about what the competition is saying.

    Knowing exactly what your customers want allows you to position yourself as the obvious choice. Consistency will keep you in the forefront of your customer’s mind, and once they trust you, you’ve already won.

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