How to understand your customers better, from Customer Psychology

Gareth at Customer Psychology had an interesting post.  He took my post of two weeks ago (“Customer Intelligence: Bring Your Customers to Life for Your Employees“) and extended it.

The original post is at http://customer-psychology.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/how-to-understand-your-customers-better.html, but I’ve also reproduced it below.  Thanks, Gareth!

How to Understand your Customers Better

We’re staying on our external customer focus this week, but in a slight change I’m linking to a blog by someone else: Jim Tincher who writes the excellent Heart of the Customer. As regulars here will know my approach is combining customer and employee engagement, which is mirrored in Jim’s own focus. Therefore I shall borrow some of his wisdom.

So today I’m linking to his post ‘Customer Intelligence’ and adding a few thoughts of my own. In this post Jim discusses five key actions that you can take to bring your customers to life. I’m going to pick up on two of these and add some thoughts of my own.

1. Customer Panels

This customer intelligence tactic focusses on bringing in customers to talk to your organisation. I think that this is an excellent idea. It moves customers up the engagement ladder to becoming involved in your business. Therefore they feel more committed, and you have the advantage of their input, ideas and feedback. This is particularly useful for ensuring that you and the other leaders of your business keep in touch with the reality for your customers.

The key to making this work in my experience is to ensure that the customer input is regular and diverse. Why? Well there is a tendency for people to make decisions with too little information, and business leaders are no different. I can remember being in an organisation where a major strategic choice was made based upon information that turned out to come from one influential account director. She was adamant that a new product would sell well with all clients. Product was developed and …well you can guess what happened. To avoid this kind of expensive cock-up you should ensure that you’re not relying on second hand customer information and you should also make sure that you are getting a variety of customers to come in, so that you know that you’re not basing important decisions on limited views.

2. Working it

Here Jim describes the tactic of going and working in your customer’s business as a way of getting to now them better. As a tactic for B2B this is great, you’ll get to understand them much better and be better positioned to solve their problems.

What Jim doesn’t highlight is the additional relationship building that will naturally occur here. You’ll meet not just your main contact, but also other stakeholders in the business and you’ll have the opportunity for both discussions and informal chats about kids, cats and football.

This will enhance trust and communication, both of which are vital to effective relationship building. In addition, trust and communication act as a buffer to conflict, making misunderstandings less likely and allowing people to share their underlying needs, rather than just their negotiating positions.

It can also help you with transition problems. We’ve all had situations where we’ve had a fantastic relationship with a customer though one individual, only to lose the customer when that individual moves on. By going and working in a customer’s business we can broaden our informal networks, allowing us to defend against the transition of one person.

So there you have it, the wisdom of Jim Tincher, with a pinch of Customer Psychology. Are you currently using these tactics, and how are you finding them?

 

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