5 Tips on Being More Effective

Having spent the last couple of weeks doing customer interviews I’m reminded just how invaluable they are. My phone interviews are with the client’s ideal customers. The main objectives are to:

  • Determine how customers found the company
  • If and why they refer others
  • Why the customer continue to do business with the company
  • What could the company do better
  • What does the company do that their competitors don’t
  • What words would the customer use to find the company online

Knowing who your ideal customer is and how your differentiated in the mind of your clients is essential to developing an effective  marketing strategy and system.

With that in mine, I’d like to suggest  five things you can do to make your customer interviews more effective.

1. Be Open

Business owners often fall into the trap that they know exactly how their customers think. However, a business owner’s perspective is not the same as a customer perspective. The benefits and features of products and services that a business owner knows intimately may not even be noticed or valuable to a customer. Quite often the things that the customer values goes unnoticed by the business owner because they think every business does it. Being open minded allows you to see what really counts from the customer’s perspective.

2. Identify your best customers

Your best customers are the ones you enjoy serving, are highly profitable and are willing to refer you to others. Highly profitable means that they value your services and products and are willing to pay a premium for them. Their willingness to refer you to others means that they trust that you will give others a similar great experience. They likely are your raving fans and you want more of these types of customers. Apple is well known for providing great experiences whether it’s their iPhones, iPads or Genius Bar. Apple customers love to tell others about how great Apple is knowing that they too will have a great experience. So when you are thinking about your best customers be picky and remember that it’s quality over quantity.

3. Conduct Interviews One-on-One

We often get caught up in trying to be efficient versus effective when doing customer interviews. We are tempted to use online tools such as SurveyMonkey to email the customers interviews and then aggregate the responses. While this may be efficient my experience has been that it’s not very effective. First, because your customers are probably very busy their responses are often very short and limited in information. Communication is 55% visual 38% auditory and 7% verbal. You miss 93% of the communication using an online survey tool. More importantly, you gain a deeper understanding conducting interviews one-on-one. As more clarifying questions when something interesting is mentioned. Ideally these interviews should be conducted in person but doing them over the phone is also effective.  Six to eight questions should only take about 15-20 minutes.

4. Take Notes

It’s easy to get caught up in the conversation and forget to take notes. However if we don’t take good notes we miss out on key information such as keywords the emotions they felt and the ability to go back and ask more detailed questions at a later date. If listening and note taking is difficult then ask your customer if you can record the meeting. If the interview is on the phone, online conference tools like freeconferencing.com allows you to record.

5. Consider Using an Independent Third Party

Using someone not associated with your business can make the customer feel more comfortable about providing candid feedback. When conducting the interviews yourself, customers are willing to tell you all the good things but are reluctant to tell you the bad things in fear of hurting the relationship. Using an outside resource gives the customer an opportunity to openly share their thoughts and opinions without feeling like they are jeopardizing the relationship. This is something I encourage my clients to consider.

If you haven’t done the customer interview recently or you are thinking about a new marketing initiative, then I would highly recommend that you stop and take the time to do some customer interviews. The insights you will gain make it more than worth the effort.