Understanding Your Customers

Understanding Your Customers

Why understanding your customers is essential.

By Marcia Smith

Get to know your customers

Some of the most successful businesses are built upon the trust and understanding that has been developed with their customers. Understanding their needs is essential first and foremost, but in cases you may need to understand your customer’s needs better than they do.

Before thinking about scaling and expanding, a business’ first requirement is to understand the basic needs of your customer to ensure they keep returning to you. Giving your customers a range of outlets and truly listening to their complaints via a number of sources (from email to social media) can give you a clear understanding of the direction your consumers are hoping you will take.

Don't 'do' a Soundcloud

Let’s take a real world example of this: when the online business Soundcloud changed its site format completely, the company quickly offered users the opportunity to revert to their old site once the full switch to a new and improved site was implemented – an odd choice, perhaps. But their decision to make the move this was due to the complaints they received from people who claimed the site was not compatible with their older computers or devices. In truth, the mistake Soundcloud may have made here was in not testing their new site extensively enough.

Social listening

If you’re looking to be more proactive in engaging with your customers, thanks to the digital age, it is getting easier to pick up on trends as they develop – one such way is to use ‘social listening’. Using the likes of Twitter, you can see what the high influence users are saying in your industry and gain an understanding of what’s going to be popular in the coming months. Effectively, you can figure out what your customer needs before they realize it themselves.

In summary, understanding the =needs of your customers is essential, but you will also need to be prepared to test your own hypotheses about what your clients do and do not like.

Understand cultural differences

Customers around the world are all different. Whilst the world may seem to be getting smaller all the time, the needs, interests, and aspirations and spending power of customers can differ greatly from culture to culture.

Companies that choose not to take account of this, or believe that a ‘one size fits all’ approach will work, will lose customers who are proud to think of themselves as culturally unique. Products and services are designed and marketed at a domestic audience most of the time. If a product is then marketed to an international audience, the frames of reference will be different and careful research is needed to make an effective sale.