September 2012

Get Inside Your Customers’ Heads!

Dear Reader,

Do you know what’s going on inside the heads of your customers … and, if not, do you need to? (HINT: We can’t imagine a situation where the answer is “No”!)

In this issue of Better Insight, we look at the importance of getting inside your customers’ heads and what you’re likely to learn once there.

Do share your thoughts with us on LinkedIn and Twitter – read on to find out how.

Best wishes,

Martin Holliss

t: +44 1235 812 456
m: +44 7931 376501

Get Inside Your Customers’, and Your Competitors’ Customers Heads

Would you like to improve the experience you provide to your customers, to deepen their loyalty and develop longer-lasting relationships? Are you developing new products and services that you want customers to buy, at the price you want to charge?  Do you understand why your customers buy from you rather than your competitors – or why many people buy from your competitors instead?

To move your business forward, gain a competitive edge and generate a following of loyal customers, you need to understand those customers. You need to get inside their heads to see how they think and why they do things the way they do.

Buying Criteria – You need to understand your customers’ buying criteria, how they decide what to buy and what experience they get once they’ve bought from you. This knowledge will help you improve your customers’ experience. It will influence whether or not they buy from you again, how often and whether they speak positively (or negatively) about your company to other people. It will also help you understand what you’re doing well and don’t need to change; and what you’re not doing well and do need to change. And when you get inside the heads of your competitor’s customers you’ll find out what your competitors are doing well and how you can do even better.

Perceptions – Do you know how your customers perceive your business? Are they aware of the full range of products and services that you can provide? Their perception of your business may well be incorrect or incomplete, so you might need to refine or fundamentally change the way you tell people what you do. Your marketing and communications may need to be assessed.

Qualitative research techniques, such as depth interviews (whether conducted in-person or by telephone) or focus groups, are ideal for getting inside the heads of your customers and those of your competitors, to find out what they really think, feel, believe or need.

Be Prepared for Unexpected Results

When we carried out customer research for one of our clients, we unearthed unexpected results that highlighted a major opportunity for improvement in the performance of the business. By talking to their customers about why they bought from them, or didn’t, we found that the company continually failed to meet their promised delivery lead time, leaving customers disappointed and frustrated. This was leading customers to look for alternative suppliers.

When the problem was studied in more detail it transpired that the sales people taking orders never spoke to their production colleagues to check if they could meet the delivery dates being quoted to the customers. As soon as this was rectified, customers were happier and placed more orders.

So how can one get inside your customers’ heads? In this case, we carried out a series of telephone depth interviews, speaking to about 50 customers and decision-making influencers. Each interview lasted 20-30 minutes. We offered each participant a donation to a charity of their choice, as a thank you for speaking to us – a small price to pay for the highly-valuable that we discovered.

When Did You Last Carry out Customer Research?

Click here to answer this question on LinkedIn and share your views with the world. Tell us how you got inside the heads of your customers and the insights you discovered once you got there.

You can now follow us on Twitter! Click here for regular tips on getting more from your research budget and for latest industry news.

Want more tips on how to use research? Click here to watch some of our informative videos.