Can’t figure out the next step for your business? Stuck in a rut? Losing market-share? Working harder but getting nowhere?
Don’t worry, it happens to all of us at one point or another. Whether it’s too many options, you’ve tried everything, or nothing’s changed but sales are dwindling… you can potentially solve all of these problems with a few strategic conversations.
That’s right, actual real conversations with your actual customers! Radical I know but it’s surprising how few businesses actually take this simple action.
Now don’t be scared and find another 20 things that are suddenly more important. NOTHING is more important than understanding your customers. And the thing is, it’s very easy, and usually turns out to be very enjoyable too!
Here’s the simple way to get some real customer insights – without getting caught up in customer surveys, customer research firms or market reports…
First off, don’t overthink it, just get on the phone to a customer that has used your service fairly recently. If you can’t talk to your first pick, just keep dialing other customers until you get through to someone.
Introduce yourself and let them know that you’re looking for some advice on your business and ask them if they’d mind taking a few minutes to answer a few questions. Thank them profusely.
Then, get into the questions. Of course you can change these and add others but this list gives you some ideas to get started.
Questions to Ask Your Customers
- How did you come to use our service in the first place?
- How did you find us?
- What were the circumstances? Were you looking for a business like ours? Why? What prompted them to start using a business like yours? (This information is extremely useful for your marketing strategy.)
- Where else did you look? What other businesses did you consider or try?
- Have you used a similar service/product previously?
- How were they different from us?
- What made you change?
- What is the best thing about our service?
- How has it help you/your business?
- What difference have we made?
- If you could change something about our service, what would it be?
- Give prompts like: opening hours, pricing, results, experience, quality, customer service, trading terms, ease of use, etc. (Don’t let them say “nothing”, this is the real insight you want!)
- And beyond that, what would it take for us to really thrill you?
- Give prompts like: what could we add or change to make us the best business you deal with?
- Also ask what aspects of your product/service they currently utilise. (Perhaps they don’t know about some of your features or didn’t realise how they could be relevant.)
Get Feedback on your Ideas for Change
If you have your own ideas for some changes, it’s a great idea to run these by a few customers – after you’ve already solicited their own ideas. You can say something like;
- We’re considering a few different options for new features / changes at the moment and I’d really like your input as to which you think would be the most beneficial. The ideas we have are a, b and c (explain each in as much detail as needed). Which would you like most as a customer?
- Are there other things that spring to mind?
Remember as well, if your customer’s response is generally very positive, you can always ask to turn their responses into a testimonial – these can be very useful in your marketing materials as part of your “social proof”.
Get Into Their Mindset
If you’ve got this far and they’re still happy to talk, try to take it a step further and ask questions like;
- What kinds of problems are they having?
- Is there anything else you help with?
- What’s working well for them at the moment? (This is especially good to ask if they’re a business as well. Have a real heart to heart with them!)
- How do they think of your business relative to the other options available?
Unlike a survey, with a real conversation, you can gain insights as you go. If the conversation veers down a path that is relevant to the customer, let it go there and explore that subject fully. Your objective is to get inside the mind of your customer so you really want to know what makes them tick. A few compliments here and there will help your customer warm up and realise that this is not an interrogation, but a genuine desire to connect with them and get their insights into your business.
If they make suggestions that you don’t like or don’t think have merit, don’t worry (this is common!). Make sure you don’t shut the conversation down, but instead explore that area further. Let them know that it’s a great idea or that you’d love to implement that, but the problem is x, y and z. You never know, they might have ideas for tackling those issues!
Aim for 10 phone calls in a month and you’ll get some amazing insights that are bound to affect the future of your business. PLUS, there’ll be a whole lot more customers that feel really connected with you and your business.
Put it on your todo list today and make it a recurring appointment!