The formula for knowing what customers want is understanding customers.
Understanding customers enables you to anticipate their needs and expectations thereby providing excellent customer experience.
Have you ever wondered why a customer that patronized you once or twice disappeared into thin air? Simple! They felt misunderstood. They did not connect with you in the few times they dealt with you.
Understanding customers is what turns them from a prospect to a buying customer and finally to a repeat customer.
To better understand your customers it is ideal to do a needs vs value segmentation. Identify your customer’s needs, determine the needs you have met, needs you could not meet, why you could not meet the needs and what value you have been able to add to your customers. Group them into met and unmet needs thereby allowing you to ask questions like why you did or could not meet their needs.
As an entrepreneur you should acknowledge that the lifeline of your business is the customer so it pays to invest in understanding your clients; not just for the financial gain but for the customer’s satisfaction.
Understanding customers entails the 5 W’s. The Who, What, Where, When and How.
Who is important? You need to determine who you are in business for; it is imperative you know that you are in business for your customers. When you comprehend this singular fact it will drive you to ask questions as regards who patronizes your business. Questions like their names, location, what they do for a living, who their customers are, their likes and dislikes etc. These answers will unravel who your customers are.
What are their choices? What would they prefer you gave them? What are their problems? What solutions do they need you to provide? Would they prefer quality to quantity, do they want your product as it is or do they want an improved version or would they prefer subscription (prepaid) to pay as you go service?
As a fish farmer that packages and sells smoked fish I had a firsthand experience of this. Initially I reared the fish to get so big in size which meant I packaged four pieces in a bag. Overtime I asked what they would prefer. Sales increased when I packaged smaller sizes of six to eight in a bag. I felt quality was selling bigger fishes but the customers preferred smaller sizes. Moral is find out what your customers actually want; do not assume like I did.
Realizing this would help you understand how to better meet your customers at the point they are. If there are substantial amount of people in each group you can package your products to meet the demands of each group thereby leaving you with happy customers.
Where do your customers buy from? Have in mind that the answer to this question would help you deduce who your competitors are. Which makes this a win-win situation for you and your customer. Knowing your competitors would help you understand why your customers are going to them and what they have that you do not have. If you are able to decipher why they patronize your competitor you can fill in the gap as to what they really want.
When do they buy? How often do they buy? Is their purchase daily, weekly, monthly or seasonal? Knowing your customer’s frequency of purchase helps you prepare in advance for their next purchase thereby making you proactive. Customers love that.
How do they buy? Do they buy in bulk or in pieces? Do they pay you as soon as they buy or do they need some time before they pay? Are they Loyal customers, Regular customers, Occasional customers or One-off customers? The customers’ buying habits says a lot about what they feel about your product and business.
To better comprehend your customers speak with them; you can also use surveys and questionnaires. You will be amazed at what you will discover. That was how I discovered they would prefer smaller sizes of fish at the same package weight and amount.
You can also have your sales people get testimonials on video if you cannot personally speak to all your customers. This will capture their body language which says a lot.
In all understanding customers means you take into account the Who, What, Where, When and How. Knowing these will help you discern how your customer reasons; believe me this is your gateway to success as an entrepreneur.
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view” Harper Lee (American Author)
“There is a great difference between knowing and understanding: you can know a lot about something and not really understand it” Charles F. Kettering (American inventor)
In summary understanding customers is what guarantees the continuous existence of your business in the harsh waters of business.
If you have employed other strategies in understanding customers kindly share them with our readers in the comment section.
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