Just like most small business owners, I am sure you have often wondered if you, indeed know your customers at all. I mean do you really know why they their hard-earned cash on your service or product?, and what, exactly do they use your offerings for ? what specific problems are they looking to come to you to solve?
If you often come up short when you ask yourself these questions, don’t worry, you are not alone. In fact, a 2015 study from Aberdeen Group found that just 4 percent of organizations are fully satisfied with their ability to ensure data-driven conversations with their customers.
It is almost hard to believe that in today’s data-driven, customer-centric business environment, such a large number of small businesses have no clue what their customers true needs and wants are. It is hard to meet your customer's’ needs if you do not really know them. It is even harder to grow your business by building new product offerings around the real, everyday needs of your customers. One would even argue that true customer analytics is the key to real growth, since the information gleaned from your customers can help target other prospective customers similar to your existing customer base.
So, how does one get to know their customers? How can you, as a small business owner or entrepreneur use customer analytics to gain true insights into your customer's’ needs and wants?
Get to know their story. Why you? Believe it or not, your customers are not a homogeneous group of people who all have the same need and therefore came to your firm to solve the same problem. Each customer has a unique story. A story which led to a unique trajectory, which led them on a series of pathways to finding your retail location or website. Get to know how they got there by devising simple, easy-to-answer series of questions you ask when you first interact with them. Start collecting and arranging the answer to these questions. By doing so, you will start to create a clear picture of how customers get to you in the first place.
This is one that is often ignored by small business owners. Most small business owners and entrepreneurs believe that their interactions with their customers end once the customer completes a purchase and goes away. We, as small business owners, simply just move on to the next customer. That is a big mistake that can cost you in future revenue opportunities, increased product returns/ cancellations and refunds, bad product or company reviews, etc. It is a good idea to device a system to initiate some kind of after-purchase customer follow up. You can do this via email or telephone surveys, depending on the nature of your business and what is more feasible . Build a set of questions that gets to the heart of any potential issues the customer may have during the usage of your product or service. Also try to anticipate the customer’s next purchase plans as it relates to your business. Offer discounts and coupons at this point.
Turn the data into a plan
This is the fun part. Now that you have collected all the data you need. By "data", I mean, you have collected demographic information on your customers, as well as data on how your customer found you, what specific issue they hoped to resolve by purchasing your product or service, how they used your offerings after they made their initial purchase, etc.
It is now time to create a full visual report and a plan to attract more customers and/or produce new offerings and promotions to get the existing ones to come back. I recommend collecting all the data and using tools like Tableau , Zoho reports, or IBM's Watson to create a deep and insightful report. Spend some time analyzing these reports, along with your product development and marketing team and use the information obtained as a guide to help chart your way forward.