It’s only when you understand your customers well that you can create relevant content, build great products, and support long-term loyalty.
And to understand our audience, we need to listen, using carefully planned strategies that we revisit over and over again.
It’s very likely that you have plenty of information about who your customers are and what they think. Perhaps you don’t know what to look for or need to be more proactive when it comes to learning about your customers.
In this post, I’ll share some helpful tactics you can use to learn what your customer is thinking. Combine or modify these suggestions to create a strategy that makes sense for your business. As you learn more about what your audience wants and thinks, you’ll get valuable data that will help you grow your business fast.
Look at customer support tickets
One important source of information is your customer support. This is where your customers bring their problems or ask for information that’s missing.
It’s good practice to talk to your customer support team and ask them what they think can be improved. They’ll know about problems that occur frequently and can help you come up with content or product ideas that improve your work.
Also, do a deep dive of your support tickets from time to time. It’s important to use good help desk plugins and customer support software that allows you to get behind-the-scenes data through reports and data analysis.
For one of our brands, we sort our tickets into custom tags and folders. Some of our tags are ‘Bug reports’ and ‘Feature requests’. Tickets with these tags often contain interesting ideas that have helped us improve our product offerings.
Another way that we use our customer support information is to improve our documentation. When customers submit a ticket, we ask them to describe their problem. As they write down their problem, articles that could help them pop as possible recommendations. This helps them find information that could help them resolve problems on their own.
If they continue to submit a ticket but we see that their problem has already been explained in our documentation, then we use the phrasing they entered in the support ticket to update our documentation. We add the keywords and the phrases customers used to our product documents and make them easier for our users to find.
Ask with feedback forms
Sometimes you just need to reach out proactively and ask your customers what they are thinking. Do this with a survey form or a with a good feedback form tool. Some of my tips for improving survey response rates are as follows:
- Allow users to fill forms anonymously. I find that people are more willing to submit feedback and be honest if they can do so without entering their names or email addresses
- Try to make your feedback forms as short as possible since having to fill in pages of information often deters customers from sharing their feedback
- Offer an incentive to users for filling in your survey form
We host an annual survey at our company that helps us learn more about our audience.
One of the things that I learned from doing this in previous years was that most people ask for products that already exist under our brand umbrella. This means that we need to improve our cross-promotion and help customers become more aware of our other products.
Leverage social media listening
There’s no question that your audience is active on social media and likely sharing their thoughts online with their peers.
Part of your social media marketing strategy should be to actively listen to what people are saying. When doing this, look for more than mentions of your brand. It’s a good idea to look for industry news, posts about your competitors or alternatives, and products similar to your own.
Here are some tips for effective social media listening:
- Use social media management tools to help you listen. A tool like Hootsuite lets you create feeds for different topics. You can bring posts together that mention a specific hashtag, mention, or keyword
- There are other tools that will pick up brand mentions even when there’s no link added to this brands’ names. It’s worthwhile to invest in such a tool so that you know where your brand is being mentioned. If you’re looking for a free tool that picks up any brand mentions, you can use Google Alerts to get emails whenever content about your brand is posted online
- Track what’s being said about alternatives to your product and your competitors. These are more sources of information where you’ll learn about what people need and what their pain points are
- Look at user-generated content. What are the trends taking place in your area today? When your content reflects how your audience creates their own social media posts, you’ll find that you can engage them better
In the early days of my company, we grew by listening to people talk about the problems they faced using WordPress. We would find questions people asked on Twitter. Then, we’d build a blog post answering their question, and we’d post our reply to their tweet and link to our post. This played a major role in our growth.
Review your reviews and ratings
Another source of information is the reviews and ratings your business gets online. As unpleasant as it is to get negative reviews, some of them do have critical information that shows you how customers feel.
It’s also important to encourage your audience to leave reviews. When people see that your business has good reviews on Google My Business, Yelp, or some other business listing platform, it helps them trust you. Newcomers who have just come across your brand will be willing to explore your content and learn more about you.
Make sure that you respond to reviews that people leave. Thank people who have commented with positive feedback. And reach out to those who are unhappy with your services. By working with them, you can improve their experience and your own ability to cater to future customers better.
There you go. We’ve just covered several ways to learn more about how you can listen to your customers and know what they’re thinking.
Listening is an active process and when done as a serious business activity, it involves the use of tools, backend reports, and data analysis to know how customers feel.
What’s also important is to keep an open mind and think about what your customers are saying from their perspective. When you can put yourself in your customers’ shoes, you’ll get better at making products and creating content that truly resonates with them.