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Michael G. Bartlett - the Director of Experience Innovation, JMARK , said in the Clootrack 102-CX Experts Report, “The biggest challenge any brand typically faces when trying to understand their customer's experiences is themselves; they won't get out of their own way so that they can focus on their customers.”

Understanding your customers involves: 

  • Discovering their needs, 
  • Comprehending their pain points
  • Interpreting their actions and past experiences

But how’d you do that? 66% of customers expect businesses to understand their needs. What does it take for executive leaders to be accurate when understanding customer perceptions and expectations?

Let’s find out! Here are 13 action-based tips to better understand your customers:

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1. Analyze Customer Feedback and Responses

Getting and analyzing their direct feedback is one of the best strategies to understand your customers. Whenever you ask your customers for feedback, keep in mind to ask various queries. Make an effort to comprehend their physiological and psychological demands better. 

You can ask customers:

  • what they like about your products
  • what they dislike
  • what they would like to see changed 
  • how the product made them feel
  • How was their experience physically using the product

Then, you can monitor their feedback and responses over time through:

  • surveys and quizzes
  • focus groups
  • discussions across social media
  • comments and engagements on your blog
  • customer support channels
  • community web pages and forums

This will reveal both the good and bad experiences that many of them frequently have. As a result, you can fix the biggest problems right away and keep doing what your audience likes.

2. Examine Your Competitors

Your competitors play a role in determining your customers' needs and habits. In fact, 89% of businesses compete mostly based on the CX. If your major competitor offers a new product, service, or feature, your customers will likely expect similar buying options from you. 

You can assess your competition like you collect feedback from your customers.

  • Conduct focus groups where you compare and contrast your product with the competitor's product.
  • Interview customers of the competing business.
  • Watch for mentions on social media.

You may utilize this information to better your products by learning how your competitors are meeting the needs of your audience and where they might make improvements.

Consider the following when evaluating the competition:

  • What products or services do they offer?
  • What makes them stand out?
  • Which products and companies are expanding more rapidly, and why?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of the items made by your competitors?

3. Get in Touch With Your Past Customers

Why did the people who are now your customers stop doing business with someone else? Bain and Company research reveals that 4 times more a customer moves to a competitor company if they face problems with the current services.

You may better understand what your customers dislike by learning why they weren't satisfied with their previous supplier.

You can ask customers for this information in the following ways:

  • Pick a small number of customers.
  • Call or contact them a week after their products are delivered to check how things are going.
  • Ask them specific questions about their previous supplier and why they are no longer doing business with them.

4. Interact With Your Customers in Real-Time

HubSpot's research indicates that 48% of customers are more likely to communicate over call, 42% through live chat, and 36% by using the "contact us" form.

One of the more significant lead generation technologies is live chat systems. You can ask your consumers specific questions in surveys you collect from them to better understand why they visited your website and what appeals to them about your products or services.

Calling your consumers is a good alternative to live chat. They might, however, choose not to speak with you at times. 

In such cases, social media is preferable. According to Sprout Social, 47% of customers raise their complaints about products and services on social media profiles. 

Platforms such as Instagram and Facebook are essential for measuring what motivates, inspires, and interests your audience. 

You can categorize the information received from these interactions under the following headers:

  • What would your customers tell your friends about our product?
  • Why did they purchase the item?
  • What advantages did using the product provide for them?
  • Did they have any issues with the product after purchasing it?
  • What modifications to the product do they want?

5. Evaluate Customer Analytics Data

Among many other elements, customer experience analytics reveal their preferences, viewpoints, behavior, and expectations from your products or services.

According to 1 out of 8 experts, the biggest CX challenge is not leveraging detailed customer insights. You may learn a lot about visitors' interests and behaviors by tracking their activity on your website. You could use a tool for performing CX analytics to understand customer personas.

  • Firstly, you should draw inferences about what your audience doesn't comprehend and what they enjoy and dislike based on your gathered behavioral data.
  • Secondly, there are various ways to evaluate how well your CX initiatives work. Among the most well-known metrics are the Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), and Customer Effort Score (CES).

You can better understand your customers' loyalty, contentment, and effort by including these metrics in your understanding of them. For instance, the latest CX insights into the Energy Drinks industry depict that taste and flavor are the first category drivers for better CX.

6. Travel Through Your Customer's Path

8.7% of CX professionals advise concentrating on the customer journey to understand your customers better. Therefore, put yourself in your customers' position through customer journey mapping.

You can:

  • Create a thorough, graphical representation of the customer journey depending on crucial touch points — interactions a consumer experiences with your business before, during, or after a purchase.
  • Use a well-researched customer journey map to better visualize what consumers are thinking, feeling, and doing.

7. Ask Your Frontline Teams About Your Customers

"Listen to your customer! This may seem like an obvious answer, but I'd like to dig a little deeper. Listening to your customer is more than reading customer satisfaction surveys. It allows your front line to bring back comments, feedback, etc., from the customer. There must be an easy way for front liners (salespeople, customer service reps, and others on the front line) to share the feedback," Shep Hyken, CAO (Chief Amazement Officer), Shepard Presentations, LLC, as per the Clootrack report.

Your sales team and customer support representatives can learn enough about your customers and their preferences since they interact with them frequently. Also, good employee experiences hugely impact customer experiences.

You should enable your employees to:

  • Engage with customers regularly, getting to know their habits, preferences, and expectations. 
  • Learn what isn't working well for a customer and how your business might better meet their demands.

8. Address Concerns and Follow Up

Be available when business is sluggish, or customers are dissatisfied. Contact them to convey your apologies and learn about their needs and behaviors rather than dismissing their discontent.

Follow up with an existing customer who purchases a product to find out what they liked about it. Following up is a terrific technique to find dissatisfied customers. You can:

  • Call a customer after a month of using your product.
  • Send them an email if they do not complete their transaction.
  • Send an SMS message to request a review of a recent transaction.
  • Schedule a meeting to discuss their experiences with your business.

Respond to customers throughout their buying journey to develop a fruitful relationship. This makes it simple to understand customers.

9. Create Effective User Personas

A study by ITSMA reveals that 90% of marketing managers stated personas helped them understand their customers.

A persona is more than just a collection of characteristics; it should be as detailed as you need to and assist you in visualizing your target audience's demands, behaviors, and motivations.

Consider factors other than age, gender, income, and geographic region while making decisions. A rich persona's essential elements are derived from the following information:

  • Psychographic (For example, values, opinions, aspirations)
  • Transactional (For example, purchase histories and service records)
  • Behavioral (For example, interaction with your social media profiles) 

Examine customer preferences in greater depth and utilize web analytics to see which social media sites, business blogs, and professional forums direct customers to your website. Then, apply this knowledge to your personas to determine the best times and places to communicate with them.

Additionally, gather keyword information to learn the phrases and words that particular buyer personas use to describe your services. Then, based on the available data, assign the keywords to various personas by grouping them into central ideas.

10. Include Additional Outside Data

Utilizing data from sources outside your business is another approach to better understanding your customer. Business context data incorporate information from a wider environment, including:

  • social media
  • news and events
  • weather
  • market changes
  • demographic changes
  • geography

Contextual data can be obtained from third-party companies or institutions, such as vendors or market research agencies. Moreover, there is a lot of publicly accessible data from official sources. You can also help collect external data by selecting customer experience-related technologies. This helps stay up to date with the trending customer sentiments toward your brand and products/services.

11. Evaluate Your Company's Past Successes

When researching your audience, don't neglect what previous efforts have worked for your customers in terms of your:

  • products
  • services
  • customer support
  • marketing efforts

This data provides insight into how your target market views your product or service and explains why they have or are currently enjoying their interactions with your company (e.g., your product development, customer support, marketing, and more).

Refer to these achievements when making decisions that affect your audience as your Company expands and your product or service develops to ensure they're advantageous and required.

12. Personalize Your Communication

According to SmarterHQ, 72% of customers engage with personalized communication. Brands can accomplish hyper-personalization at scale by combining consented first-party and contextual data with omnichannel personalization technologies.

Customers can be reached at any time via digital media. Therefore, you should:

  • Tailor your communications with them. 
  • Ensure your brand's voice and image are in sync.
  • Maintain your distinct voice to help them easily understand and respond.

13. Organize Events for Customers and Employees

Focus groups are a great method to get to know current and potential consumers while getting open-and-honest feedback. For instance, your business might decide to set up focus groups to test out a new product.

You can:

  • Host events at retail stores
  • Take part in trade shows to increase engagement
  • Introduce new products and services while offering free presents to participants

Focus groups and events are great ways to interact with potential consumers, satisfy existing ones, and gather insightful data about customer profiles and preferences that your marketing team may utilize for personalized communications.

The Bottomline

Understanding and satisfying customer expectations result in long-term relationships and stronger brand loyalty. 

Customers connect with brands that accommodate their needs. 

  • Pay close attention to what your customers say. You will never be able to understand them if you don't listen to their feedback and issues.
  • Personalized, relevant, and consistent communication through all channels is essential to understand your customers. 

Use their chosen method of communication to connect with them.

  • Every customer action provides insightful information about how they behave. A thorough awareness of your customers across all their interactions also allows you to spot journey gaps and enhance touchpoints.
  • You must constantly monitor what your competitors are doing in the market and what customers say about their products. 

Customer expectations can make or break brand identities - but fulfilling them immensely delivers.

Read more: Powerful Customer Journey Orchestration To Deliver Superior CX