Market research is a huge and important area, in fact it is its own industry and, done right, it can be the key to unlocking the power of your marketing machine. Knowing your competitors, your target demographic, the right communication channels etc are all key insights that help you refine your strategy. But, of all these data sources, the most important one is often the most overlooked.

How well do you know your own customers?

Dale Carnegie famously said that working to retain customers was more important than winning new ones. So how well do you know yours? An admission of ‘not as well as we should’ is probably a better scenario than nonchalantly assuming you know them well. Either way, it makes an ideal task to kick off your remote working strategy project.

What to ask?

If you only ask one question of your customers, it should be this:

“Why do you use us over our competitors?”

Understanding why is incredibly valuable to your business. Particularly as your customers might not be using you for the reasons you think. There are so many variables:

  • · Quality of product or service
  • · Timeliness of delivery
  • · Sales support
  • · Customer service
  • · Price point
  • · Ease of communication – eg website, phone systems etc
  • · The X Factor *

What probably jumps out from the above list are questions about the quality of your offering and, of course, the price. However, price is often not the overriding reason a customer stays loyal, unless you are a re-seller of, say, a branded product that’s available widely.

More often than not it’s how comfortable and friction-free the whole experience is for the customer. But often it can be something intangible – what we describe as the X Factor in the list above. Maybe Bob from sales supports the same football team as your biggest customer, or Morag from customer service has a reassuring manner whenever there is a support issue.

Either way, the current lockdown offers a great opportunity to find out. And the only way to do that is to ask!

What questions should you ask?

A customer survey doesn’t need to be War and Peace. The idea of the tasks we’re putting together for you is to have something quick, actionable and effective you can do from home. The following set of questions should be enough to give you a clearer view of your customer base.

We suggest tweaking them for your own particular set of circumstances and calling your customers individually to ask them. Before you pick up the phone, though, ensure a better chance of success by preparing the customer’s background info and data so you can sound knowledgeable and the customer feels valued. Under no circumstances should you be asking questions like ‘How long have you been a customer of ours?’

  1. What is the main problem our product/services solve for you?
  2. How does it fit into your daily workflow?
  3. How well does it meet your needs?
  4. What do you like [most/least] about it?
  5. If you could change anything about it, what feature would it have that it currently does not?
  6. What made you choose us over a competitor?
  7. How likely are you to recommend our company?
  8. Do you have any feedback on our website – design or functionality?
  9. Do you follow any of our communication channels (insert the ones you use)?
  10. How would you rate your most recent experience with us?

Yes they are pretty straightforward questions, but the idea is to not to take up too much of your customers’ time and to get straightforward and honest answers from them, that you can use to help shape the business, or any specific aspect of it, going forward.

We carried out a phone survey on behalf of a client prior to redesigning an online ordering system for them. Both ourselves and the client were concerned that the ordering process may have been too long-winded and we wanted feedback on the customer experience. Oddly, it turned out that the process was very popular with customers and only needed a couple of minor tweaks to perfect it. Invaluable information

Once you have a broad section of responses, collate them and look for any recurring patterns. You may just find the key that unlocks a new phase of growth.

Have you sent out clear messages to your network regarding your operations through the Covid-19 crisis? If not, check out our guide and get your communications strategy in order today.