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Why knowing your customers is the key to success

13th May 2016
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As a company, everything you do has a goal: to get someone to decide to do something that will benefit your company. Is that goal customers buying or utilizing your product, service orplatform? You'll need to understand who your customers are and how they make their decisions.  

Know Customers is Key to succes

Take the following scenario for an example: you're selling trendy clothes and accessories for children aged 1 to 10. You know which basic demographics you'll need to target: young mothers that are living in certain zip codes or neighborhoods. These first basic demographics will have a great influence on a huge number of decisions: your inventory, how you'll design your shop and what kind of local advertising you'll use. Once people are coming to your store you'll have a more specific idea of your typical customer, based on their behavior inside your store.  

In a brick-and-mortar store it might be difficult to monitor and record every single customer that walks into your store. A webstore on the other hand can do that. All information about your customers and webstore visitors can be tracked: their zip code, age, gender, language, what they've bought and what products they've been looking at. This gives you a lot of opportunities for further marketing decisions that need to be taken. 


It is said that knowing and understanding your customers is the overarching rule for successfulbusiness. The more you know about your customers, the more powerful you'll become. Imagine knowing your customers' names, ages, genders, incomes, home addresses, marital statuses, numberof children and hobbies. It's information you can easily gather just by asking your customers, for example when you offer them a high value loyalty card. And it will allow you to start understanding the likes and dislikes form your customers. 

Knowing who your customers are and what they want will allow you to tailor your products or services in a way that it exactly meets their needs. It will allow you to offer your products at the right place, at the right time and at the right price. Moreover, it will allow you to deliver the right features and support in order to create positive buying experiences. 


There are many ways to get to know your customers. Talking to them is one thing, but that wont help you on a large scale. To build a customer database you'll need data and customer feedback. 


Many claim that 2016 will be the year of 'Big Data', as they said about 2015, 2014 and even 2013. Buttruth is, Big Data started many years ago. Some sources even go way back to the 1930s: the population boom in 1932 caused an information overload which demanded more thorough and organized record-keeping. So 'Big Data' isn't really a 'big' thing anymore. The internet, social media and other digital innovations just made it more complicated. It gave us the opportunity to track even more data about everyone and to do it in an easier way. Big brother is watching us!  

Nevertheless, some companies still send monthly, weekly or even daily emails with personalizedcontent to their entire customer database. How can one message ever be relevant for all your customers? Imagine getting tons of advertising leaflets for diapers. If you have (little) children, sure that may be relevant. But if you haven't, those leaflets will just end up in the paper-basket, right? 


When you give loyalty cards to your customers you'll gather a lot of knowledge about them. Imaginewhat you could do when that loyalty card is linked to the personal information of your customers  and their purchase history. This gives you the opportunity to send offers to your customers that are based on their previous shopping behavior.  

Nobody wants to receive offers that are irrelevant. Take this for an example: two months ago I boughta new iPhone 6. Online, using a personal account on the website, leaving my contacts: name, email, … .Only three weeks after my purchase I got this promotional email from the same shop: 

Hi Justine, want to trade your old smartphone for a brand new iPhone 6?  
Now € 50 cashback for the purchase of a new iPhone 6 if you hand over your old smartphone. 

I just bought a new iPhone 6, online using my email address in that same shop. That's not reallyprofessional, is it? I think the result might even be counter-productive. I've just bought an iPhone and now I just realized that I've missed a €50 discount.  


If you invest in a client database make sure you do something with that data. It's not that difficult. If the shop used the data they had about me, they could have send me a coupon for an iTunes card or an email to ask me if I need a protection screen or a case for my new iPhone. But instead they just send me a promotion to buy a new one. It made me unsubscribe for the promotional emails. 


Make sure you have an ongoing dialogue with your customers. And make sure you communicate with them through the channel they prefer: social media, telephone, live chat, … . When you are conversingwith them, talk to your customers as you would in person. It's not a press conference!  

A great example of how you can easily make conversations on social media, is by adding a name or initials at the end of your message. You don't need to add the entire name. Just add the initials from the person that solved the problem or answered the question: *JR or ^JR. That way your customers know who helped them out and it gives a personal approach to your social media management. 

Talk to your customers


Knowing who your customers are also includes knowing what they think about your brand, products orservices. Without that knowledge it's impossible to adapt your service for them. Asking your customers for feedback doesn't have to be difficult. You don't need long surveys to ask them what they think about your brand. Just ask them two small questions: "On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely is it that you would recommend us to a friend or colleague?" And "Can you tell us a bit more about this score?" This is called the Net Promotor Score Methodology. Find out more about how NPS can help you measure customer satisfaction. 

Consider customer feedback as a gift, always, even if it's negative. Most of your customers will never give you their opinion, regardless of their satisfaction. So if they do take time to share what they think, make sure you do something with it.  

Take the online retailer The Cloakroom for example. The Cloakroom is an online personal shopping service for men who hate shopping. The platform works with free personal shoppers that compose outfits based on your style, the clothes are sent to you at home where you can try them out. Don't like them? No problem, you can return them for free.  

The Cloackroom

The online shopping service soon exists 3 years and they've been listening to their customers ever since. That's how they saw that lots of customers don't need the personal shopper to compose a new outfit, they just want to collect it themselves. So The Cloakroom decided to add new functionalities to their online shopping platform, so that it's optimized for existing customers that just want to place an order themselves. 


Once you've started building a connection with your customers, keep doing it. Don't make anyexception, even if you're having a bad day. You're not the boss, the customer is. And he can fire everyone in the company, just by spending his money somewhere else.  

Once you have your customers' data, you can keep sending them personalized info. for example sends me an email every time when I need to order new lenses. They know that because I always buy lenses for 6 months. So when that time is almost over, I get an email in which I can order the exact same ordering from the previous time. And that's pretty clever. 

Those 4 tips should get you started right away. Good luck!

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