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Part 1/3: Many Voices — Customers Discuss Why Understanding Customer Needs is the Gold Standard

May 5, 2022
Discern the profile of your customer, their demographic, their desires, and how they manifest those desires into purchases.
Image from Cloud Cherry

Almost every company would agree that their business revolves around their customers' needs. Each phone complaint, positive comment on social media, or question via chat and other messaging platforms provide an opportunity for companies to improve their current and new products, identify sales opportunities, and enhance their service experience.

Whether you own a small business, start-up, or enterprise company, we're here to give you a personal view of these opportunities and challenges, so that you can effectively mine customer insights to meet customer needs.

Based on recent market research, we’ve created a 3-part series on how different stakeholders (Customer, Company Executive, Customer Support Team Lead) think about understanding the customer’s voice, and how it enhances their decision-making process.

Voice #1: The Customer: Your Company’s Heartbeat

We sat down with two different customers from different focus groups to hear valuable insights on how they interact with brands who understand their voices. Meet Nikki and Rosalie:

Nikki is originally from Southern California and a Senior Director at a multinational biotechnology company. She lives in Suburban Boston with her husband and two teenage daughters.

Some of Nikki’s favorite brands include Target, Sephora, and Wegman’s

“Great companies understand the drivers that will keep me as a loyal customer”

Rosalie is originally from Suburban Chicago and a Director at a national nonprofit. She lives right outside Chicago with her husband and three sons.

Some of Rosalie’s favorite brands include Amazon, J Hilburn and Trunk Club

“Customer service has been what has kept me as a customer”

What does understanding the voice of customer mean to you?

Nikki: It means understanding the real issues important to me and being able to solve them. Even when the company makes a mistake, they own it and do whatever it takes to make it right.

Rosalie: Being able to discern the profile of your customer, their demographic, their desires, and how they manifest those desires into purchases.

While Rosalie looks for how well companies understand customer behavior, Nikki emphasizes the importance of how quickly and responsibly companies can solve issues and internalize customer feedback.  

Can you walk through an example of a time when a company really put themselves in their customers' shoes and leveraged that to deliver a better experience/product/service to you?

Rosalie: J Hilburn (Menswear) — My husband is 6’4 and their consultant listens to my husband’s trepidation on not being too trendy and meets him in the middle. She takes the time to recommend better products that fit his style but pushes him a bit more beyond the basics. She engendered his trust at the beginning and we have spent a lot of money with them.

Nikki: Sephora (Beauty) — The salespeople are friendly and helpful without being pushy. They give good recommendations on products because they listen to what I like/dislike. And they’ll make a recommendation for something I may like better.

Both Rosalie and Nikki touch on the importance of understanding your customer to know how to best recommend the product or service they are seeking. Having the knowledge base to suggest the most suitable items for your current or potential customers can go a long way in your customer relationship management.

On a scale from 1 to 10, how much more would you spend with a brand that understood your needs vs. another company? (E.g., Switching to a new brand that offered better customer experience)

Nikki: 7 — There are other grocery stores in our area that have slightly lower prices, but Wegman’s consistently has the best quality food, good service, well-trained employees to give recommendations, weekend wine tastings, and they have THE BEST music playlist going every time I go in there. They really prioritize their customers' experience.

Rosalie: 10 for my husband and 7 for me. I switched from more inexpensive online stylists to Trunk Club and my stylist figured out my style pretty quickly. My trunks don’t come as often, but I keep more and they are at a higher price point. That is how you build customer loyalty.

It's evident that customers are not so big on functionality if it means excellent customer service. While making purchasing decisions, both are willing to sacrifice lower prices for better customer service.

What channels (in-person, social, phone, email, etc.) are the best/worst at providing a personalized experience?

Nikki: Best: In-person provides the best experience. If I’m dealing with customer service outside a store, I’d rather do it in real-time via phone or chat.

Worst: Email is the worst because I get so many from marketers. I ignore most of them unless there’s something specific I’m expecting

Rosalie: Best: I’m a pretty savvy e-shopper, and I’ll look up reviews and referrals A LOT. However, In-person interactions tend to give me better results faster, vs. going through multiple purchases and returns.

Worst: Social. I bought a pair of Rothy’s and I’ll probably buy another pair, but my Twitter and FB feed are filled with those ads. It's so annoying.

While your company may offer great customer support, overdoing content marketing can kill your customer engagement. You may want to be cautious about blasting all social media channels each time you release a new product feature if it means hurting your customer retention.

The same goes for collecting satisfaction scores. You don't want to overwhelm your customers with customer satisfaction surveys that they associate your brand with spam. While it is important to collect customer data and make improvements based on concrete metrics, your brand should find the balance between maintaining active touch points with customers and isolating marketing-avoidant customers.

From your experience interacting with many brands, if you can change one thing around the customer journey (e.g., new features, product pricing, in-store/online experience, customer service, marketing strategy) what would it be and why?

Nikki: For me, it’s all about convenience — make it easy for me to get what I need/want and don’t hassle me if my original purchase wasn’t quite what I thought.

Rosalie: A customer should not have to pay for a company’s mistake, especially if they can’t replace the item and can only offer a refund. If it is not handled well it sours your relationship.

What are some of your best brand experiences as a customer? Let us know other examples in the comments!

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