Unraveling The Customer Mystery


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In the customer’s shoes. That’s one of my favorite places to be. Customer behavior is fascinating. At times it’s unpredictable and unexpected. You always have to be on your toes. Alert. Ears open. Ready to move at a moment’s notice.

So when a business collegue asks me for feedback or advice, the first thing I do is slip into the shoes of their customer.

I want to help them crack the code behind their customer’s actions. I’m want to help them figure out why their customers act the way they do, and what they are doing that reinfoces that behavior (good or bad). I become the Customer Gumshoe.

Gather your facts

I am a sucker for participating in beta programs for my friends. (Now don’t everyone go asking me all at once!) If they have an eBook and want a beta reader- well, my husband says I am a book vampire so that one’s easy. If they are doing a website design/redesign and need someone to try to break their site, I’ll happy click away on every page, link and button. If they need a second, third, or twelfth pair of eyes on a piece of marketing copy, I’ll lend them mine.

I do this because I know for my own work that even when I go over something with a fine tooth comb, someone always finds something I missed. So if someone I trust finds that blunder before my customer does, then it creates a win-win experience for everyone.

Find the Motive

When you have a product to sell, you obsess about all sorts of things. Is this exactly what my customer wants? Will they buy it at this price? Are they going to find it useful? What if something breaks? What if they don’t like it? What if they don’t like me? What if they say bad things about me? (Did you catch how quickly this turned into a rejection of you?)

We want to know our customers’ motives before they do. We want to be able to anticipate their every move so that we can plan for every possible outcome. But once we realize how diverse our customers can be, we discover that staying ahead of them can be difficult.

Not everyone is going to like you. People will buy your product and hate it. People will say mean things about you. But we have to remember that feedback is a gift. When people are talking to you, or even about you, it gives you the unique opportunity to step into their heads and dig around a little bit. We get to hone our detective skills.

Even the Negative Nellys of the world can offer up valuable insight into things that can make your product or service better.

Solve your case

Perfection is your mind’s way of keeping you running in place. Nobody is perfect. No business is perfect. No product or service is perfect. As soon as you start thinking that your product or service is the best it can be, then there’s a good chance you’ll soon find yourself with fewer and fewer customers.

Everyone is different, no one experience is exactly the same, and technology is changing faster than we can keep up. There is always going to be the next version of whatever you have to offer. Start thinking in terms of life cycles. Have an alpha release before your beta. Launch your product and then start planning version 2.0. Embrace all of the feedback you are given, but be thoughtful and only act on the things that will make your business better for everyone.

Keep your ears to the ground and be receptive to what your customers are saying (and don’t forget that what they aren’t saying can be equally important). Enlist the help of trusted gumshoes in your support circle to help give you constructive feedback.

And keep your case files close- you never know when you’ll find the right clue to crack the case wide open to bring more customers through your door.

(photo credit adactio)

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Christy Smith
ThinkBlot Communications
I have over a decade of experience in client account management and satisfaction, and I have helped large organizations develop products strategies that gain maximum buy-in during implementation. In my previous roles, my client portfolio has included Fortune 500 companies in the Financial Services, Healthcare, Retail, IT, and Telecommunications industries.


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