The customer is always right: but what do they want?

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Do you know your customers really well? Do you know exactly what they want and what they think of your company?

If you answer either of these two questions with 100 per cent certainty then I would suggest you are slightly delusional! Understanding what your customers want and how they feel about your services and products, and your company overall, is a complex subject. Very often businesses agonise over what their clients think of them and how their decisions will affect that perception and the relationships they share.

My experience suggests that many clever and dynamic initiatives (particularly marketing ones) never come about because companies and their employees are paralysed by indecision.

“Should we change that product range? I think it’s confusing, but changing it might upset our customers.”

“Do you think there are opportunities to up-sell to this customer? Do they know about the other things we do?”

“Well, is an email the right thing? People often don’t open them.”

I’m guessing at least one of these sounds familiar.

So what’s the solution, how can you act with certainty and keep your customers on board?

I believe the answer lies in research. We’ve conducted several research projects this year that have proved invaluable to clients. We’ve posed everything from the big business questions to the smaller marketing questions. The answers we’ve received have changed the way our clients do business and the approach we take to building awareness of their brand and communicating with their existing, past and future clients.

From an impartial telephone interview to a quick, incentivised online survey (Survey Monkey is great for this); it has never been easier to gauge exactly what your clients think about you. An often overlooked marketing and business tool, research could well be one of your strongest allies as we emerge from a tough recession.

If you can answer the questions I posed at the start of this post with a level of qualified certainty, you’re much more likely to keep your existing customers happy and grow your business.

Photo credit: Horiavalan

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  1. Illiya Vjestica said on September 30th, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Interesting thoughts Joel and something I can definitely relate on. Certainly in my experience working at agencies and for myself, it is often easy in the digital industry to overwhelm clients with too much choice. I suggest understanding each customer objectively to find out what services meets their needs and how you can help solve their specific problems. Not every client is going to need every area of online marketing, choice isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it really helps to be focused when discussing areas where you can potentially help a client with.

    I like the idea of research, asking questions and surveying customers needs, it is certainly something we will be addressing in the future.
    Illiya Vjestica´s last blog ..Is Facebook Leading to a Breakdown in Friendships and Real-World SocialisingMy ComLuv Profile

  2. Joel Turner said on September 30th, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Hi Illiya,

    Cheers for the comment.

    I think that’s a really good point. More choice doesn’t necessarily equal the right decisions. I would always advocate going back to basics and looking at your marketing strategy if you are uncertain as what you should be doing.

    There is a tendency (particularly online) to jump at things ‘because they are new’ or ‘because everyone else is doing them.’ Ultimately if it’s not a good fit for you and you want to communicate with your customers – then don’t do it.

    One final thought: I think research has always been thought of as the preserve of specialist agencies, I really don’t think this is the case. If you can arm yourself with the right questions and right medium (or get someone else to do it for you) there should be no reason why you can’t give it a go.

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Hello! We are Karyn Fleeting and Joel Turner . We are both directors at Tinderbox Media: a digital PR agency specialising in business blogs, which is based in North Yorkshire, UK. On Corporate Blogger we write about our observations, experiences and ideas drawn from working with our corporate clients on various web-based projects.

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