Customers want a relationship with marketers where they are “nurtured, cared about and recognized,” stated an April 2008 article in Advertising Age Magazine.
“Customers want you to know them.”
Moral of the story? Know thy customer and give them what they want! This is easier said than done, but once accomplished, customer satisfaction will increase and profits will rise.
So, how do you go about getting to know your customer?
Observation and Data Mining. Use what you have already. What trends do you see among consumers? What products are attracting the most attention? Talk to your sales staff and find out what they have been experiencing with their customers.
Ethnography. Take observation further and step into the lives of your customers by observing, interviewing and videotaping customers who agree to participate in your research while they are living their everyday lives. This takes place in their homes, where they work, where they play, or anywhere they would interact on a daily basis. Ethnography can lead to interesting insights into the needs and emotions of your customers.
Individual Interviews. In-depth interviews, when performed correctly, can lead to valuable insights into the underlying attitudes, beliefs and cultural influences that motivate consumer behavior. Focus Groups. By working with a balanced, yet random, group of your customers or target customers, you can build on ideas and expand your knowledge of your customers. Reactions of people in groups versus the reactions of the individual people in that group can vary widely. Focus groups provide the opportunity to view group interaction similar to what would happen in an office or meeting setting.
Projective Techniques. Word association, sentence completion, story completion, cartoon tests, thematic apperception tests, role playing, and third person technique attempt to hide the purpose of the research. In doing so, it encourages the respondent to project their underlying motivations, beliefs, attitudes, or feelings onto an ambiguous situation.
These and other methods of customer research (such as simple surveys and polls or customer visits) are relatively obvious and traditional, but they are also tested and true methods leading to important insight into customer needs, desires, and motivations. Implementing this knowledge can help you to successfully position your company, products, and services to more effectively serve your customers, gain new customers, and increase production, sales, demand, and profits.