These assumptions about your customers can hurt

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Although you think you know your customers well, the truth is you probably know very little about them. Understanding how little you know about your customers is actually the first step toward understanding them.

Understanding how much you know (and don’t know) about something is often referred to as ‘metacognition.’ As an example, Thinker Academy describes an experiment where people were asked to explain how common things work like helicopters, zippers, and cylinder locks.

Despite having used a zipper for decades, some participants could only give rough ideas about how the mechanism works.

If it’s difficult to describe the inner workings of a device we use regularly, imagine how little you know about the customers you only see for a brief period of time – if at all.

Here are four assumptions that are keeping you from understanding your customers:

1. You’re relying on statistics to tell you what customers like

Your marketing efforts are driven by all kinds of data. Research studies tell you where to place your opt-in boxes, what color your ‘submit’ buttons should be, and what time to post marketing messages on Facebook.

There’s one thing that’s being forgotten, though. All of this data is being collected from websites that have been doing the same thing for years. The data is simply a reflection of the way things have always been done and what the results have been. It’s not necessarily a reflection of what customers like or want.

Statistics are useful only to a point

The problem with relying on statistics as irrefutable fact is they become limitations or ceilings for what you perceive to be possible. For instance, it’s common knowledge that in direct mail marketing, a 2% response rate is good.

If you accept that as fact, you’ll think you’ve hit the jackpot when your response rate climbs to 4%. You’ll probably never aim for something outrageous like 30%.

However, there are people who can generate a nearly 60% response rate, regularly. If you allow the data to drive your actions, you’ll never achieve outrageous results.

Kevin Trudeau said, “If you want things in your life to change you have to change things in your life.” The same holds true for business. If you want things in your business to change, you have to do something differently. You have to reinvent yourself and the way you do business.

2. You think your customers are satisfied because they don’t complain

Sometimes a lack of complaints isn’t a good sign. According to this article, at least 50% of customers don’t complain when they experience a problem. Sometimes they’re afraid of retribution, or it’s not easy for them to share feedback with your business.

It sounds backward, but you want customers to complain so you can find out what you can do better. This is the ticket to enhancing your services.

One of the best things you can do for your business is to encourage your customers to share their feedback, regardless of whether it’s negative or positive. Create an easy channel for open communication and then take their feedback into account and change accordingly.

3. You believe your top-selling item is the most popular

Sometimes your top-selling item is what your customers settle for when you don’t have enough of what they really want. For instance, consider a drive-thru coffee shop that has a set number of pastries delivered fresh each day.

If they sell 10 cheese bagels and three everything bagels, the cheese bagel appears to be the more popular item. They’ll keep ordering 10 cheese bagels each day, thinking the everything bagel isn’t a top seller. However, what isn’t apparent is that people actually prefer the everything bagel, but are settling for the cheese bagel because it’s all that’s left.

Unless the staff members tell the owner it’s the everything bagel customers want, the standing order won’t change. You probably won’t lose customers over this type of situation, but you will keep them frustrated.

4. You think visitors love your popup because you get signups

Just because you’re getting signups or clicks doesn’t mean your popup isn’t annoying your visitors. Although effective, the pop-up ad has long been the most hated experience on the web.

While a pop-up can effectively capture tons of leads, leads captured through pop-ups don’t have a high engagement rate. Perhaps because pop-ups capitalize on impulse, while other methods capture leads with more authentic interest.

When your goal is to create and sustain long-term engagement, consider interacting with your visitors in ways that don’t feel like intrusions.

About Larry Alton

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