If there’s one vital thing you need to know when you’re running a business, it’s how to listen to your customers. Customers who shop with you regularly, customers who use you from time to time, even customers who have decided not to shop with you at all. Whether they’re regular consumers walking in off the street, specialists, using your products and services in a highly technical niche or your marketing directly to other businesses, you need to be able to listen to them to learn what they want and optimise your offering, your products, services and branding to the people who are going to be paying you money for them.
You can begin listening to customers from day one: you can see how they’re behaving in your stores and by setting up some tracking software watch their progress through your website in a similar way. You can see where they enter from, how they browse, and whether they find what they’re looking for and make it to the checkout to purchase or if they get interrupted, distracted or simply fail to find what they’re after.
The heat maps, either literal or digital that this process creates shows you your customer’s journey in a very dramatic fashion, and allows you to streamline it to help them enjoy an easy transit from entering your marketplace to making a purchase.
Another way you can listen to your customers is, quite simply by asking them.
Brand tracking is the process of surveying consumers to get their opinion about your brand, your competitors, how that opinion changes over time and why. Getting insights into how your brand is perceived is vital: when you begin to learn how different factors and different decisions affect your brand, you can start to shape your approach to ensure you’re building a brand that will speak to your customers just as much as you ought to be listening to them. Gathering data on your brand over time gives you the insight to take better decisions, and to recognise when even a superficially good idea could weaken your brand in the long term. Getting a good deal on placing your advertising across a particular array of websites might look like a great idea, getting your ads out there while saving money – but with more insight into what people value about your brand, you might realise that the specific website on offer aren’t great hosts for you. If you’re a luxury brand, the opportunity to spread your branding to value inflected websites might actually confuse things and drive your loyal customers away. That’s why you need to listen to them.