Be honest – how well do you know your customers? And I mean genuinely KNOW them – not just their names and purchasing patterns but what they really want from you and why they really want it? To create lasting value and set yourself apart from the competition you need to understand your customers better than they understand themselves. This may sound difficult, but the good news is that you can start to deepen your understanding right now.
Get Started Now!
You have everything you need to get started. Look at existing data and research reports. Look for patterns in the data, but also talk to as many of your colleagues with customer contact as possible. Sales, marketing, customer service, tech support can all help create an inside-out view of your customer that you can then validate from the outside-in.
Here are three tools that you can you use to document and communicate your customer understanding so everyone is on the same page.
- Empathy maps – Empathy maps focus in on what the customer is thinking and feeling, seeing, saying, doing and hearing while using the product or solution. An empathy map provides another lens into your customer’s emotional challenges and opportunities while using the product/solution.
- Customer personas – The customer persona brings your ideal customer to life. It captures who your customer is, what their goals and dreams are, what they are trying to achieve, the challenges they face and the business and personal impact they have. It uncovers both their functional needs (what they need to do) as well as their emotional needs (how it should make them feel). By gaining deeper insights into your customer, you better understand what drives them. This is key to creating a value proposition that resonates with them. Personas create a common view of your customer across the organization and are used to tailor your products, messaging, sales and even support to help you deliver a WOW experience. Personas are constantly evolving as your marketing – and your products – change.
|Tip: In the B2B world, there are typically multiple players involved. Don’t assume they are all the same. Create a persona, empathy maps and customer journey for each stakeholder to optimize your product and messaging.
- Customer Journey Maps – a customer journey is a visual representation of the process your customers go through. It is an outside-in view of the steps they take, the touchpoints they interact with and their emotions at every stage of the customer journey. Creating a customer journey is best done by a team of people representing all functions in the company. This process creates an “aha” moment, that moment of clarity that everyone and everything contributes to the overall customer experience. From the customer journey you can identify key “moments that matter” or “moments of truth” that can influence the overall experience. Making these “WOW moments” can go a long way to differentiating your organization and turn your customers into brand loyalists.
Now, Get Out There and Start Talking!
It’s important to validate the customer view that you’ve created. Here are three techniques that will help you get your customers’ perspective and deepen your insight. Use the input to update your personas, empathy maps and journeys.
- Start with existing customers (both happy and unhappy), and prospects to get a complete picture. You will not only gain insights, but also demonstrate your commitment to delivering WOW to your customers. Be clear that this is not a sales call, that you are looking for their input to help you to better deliver WOW. Ask open-ended questions and follow up to drill down to the root underlying their answers. Be very careful not to ask any leading questions – you want their perspectives, not agreement with your own. Do at least 5 interviews for each customer persona.
- Observe customers in their own environment. Shadowing your customer is one of the best tools for truly understanding their behaviors and needs. It allows you to see things they did not talk about, and provide context for why they say and do the things they do. Often, the richest insights come from reading between the lines to understand the real pain points or opportunities that the customer does not express, but experiences.
- Invite customers in. Bring in a group of customers and engage them in the process to understand and improve the customer journey, or provide input on their challenges and opportunities to deliver the greatest value.
Be sure to share your insights with your colleagues across the organization so everyone is working with the same understanding.
What’s Holding You Back?
Afraid of what you’ll find out? Don’t be. By deepening your insights, you can deliver more value and wow experiences that translate into brand advocates and revenues. Time to take the plunge!