How to know what your customers really think?

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There’s no arguing that understanding what other people feel and think is important. Sadly, many people (be they customers or businesspeople) don’t directly express how they truly feel or what they actually think – in life and business. One of the great aspects of life is the fact that we’re all different – which presents challenges for business owners. How do you make a customer feel valued if you don’t really know who they are as a human? That’s why, if you have a few moments, I’d like to share several principles with you for understanding your customers on a more personal level.

1. Empathy

If your user experience (UX) designers are working on a digital product, the goal is to obviously keep the customer’s interactions in mind. This means designing the product to be as fast as reasonably possible, creating instantaneous responsivity, and ultimately comes down to as mobile-friendly a design as possible. Mobile devices are not (and never will be) more powerful than desktops and desktop browsers; do not design UX to be a “minimized” version of desktops.

This means ultimately being empathetic to the user. For example, understanding why a certain number of people don’t want to buy your product, being empathetic will help you understand what their problems are with your products so you can do what you need to do to increase sales and make your customers happy. In order to get to that step, however, you must listen to what it is those customers are truly saying (and not just the words they’re speaking).

2. Expect Skepticism

Customers are naturally skeptical and less inclined to believe business industries. From pharmaceuticals, airlines, or media and all the way to energy and banking, people have been given good reason to disbelieve most corporations or businesses. The ’07-‘09 financial crisis that devastated the world and created high interest rates, countless numbers of homeless families, trillion-dollar national debt, and other global catastrophes. Everyday people (regular consumers) have been burned by businesses countless times – much to the point it’s almost become a “rite of passage” for dealing with companies. (I’ll bet you’ve been burned or scorched a few times, as well.)

As customers, we have a right to be skeptical about businesses. As business owners, it’s our job to placate that skepticism by understanding customers. How? By taking a cue from Walt Disney when he said: “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.”

One great way to do what you do so well is to not brag about it. You are only setting your business up for failure if you do When a store advertises itself as the “best” in town, or as “the best” in the industry, people immediately make two swift judgments:

  1. the business is lying
  2. the company’s marketers are lazy

Whether you sell products or offer services, plainly explain so. Do not hype up your products or services – as customers are growing wearier and wearier of advertisements and marketing campaigns that make a million promises and solve a thousand problems. Expect your customers to automatically doubt your claims and your ability to do what you say you will do.

3. Talk With Them

First, draw up a list of 3 or 5 customers you know for certain won’t mind having an hour-long discussion (based on past conversations with them). Then create a list of 10-15 deliberate, thoughtful questions you can ask them. A few of these questions should be about your services and products, with the majority of questions centered around the customer and his/her everyday life. Questions that ask about what their biggest problems are, why they bought previous products, or why they prefer buying a certain product in person instead of online (or vice versa). Asking deliberate, to-the-point questions will yield direct (and practical) answers.


To ultimately understand someone, it’s imperative to become a social psychologist. In his seminal book “How To Win Friends and Influence People”, mastermind Dale Carnegie outlines a series of methods, principles and life-changing tactics for connecting with people and understanding the reasons they do what they do. He says: “If a man's heart is rankling with discord and ill feeling toward you, you can’t win him to your way of thinking with all the logic in Christendom. Scolding parents and domineering bosses and husbands and nagging wives ought to realize that people don’t want to change their minds. They can’t be forced or driven to agree with you or me. But they may possibly be led to, if we are gentle and friendly, ever so gentle and ever so friendly.”

About himagarwal

Himanshu Agarwal

A tech-fanatic, Hollywood-movies fan, obsessed with online ventures & addicted to his laptop.


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