If you’ve recently grown, started or purchased a business, you may be asking: How can I best serve my customers?
While it can be tricky to know exactly what your customers want and need, the fact that you’re asking this question at all means you’re halfway there!
For everything else, take a look at the time-tested ideas below.
Be a customer yourself
Shopping at a specialty boutique, using a pool cleaning service or eating at an Italian restaurant may not qualify someone to own any of these businesses—but these activities may help new owners to better understand the industry from a customer’s perspective, which can be extremely helpful. By regularly taking time to see your business as a customer would, you can learn how to improve potential problem spots before they ever develop—and, of course, you’ll always have a strong appreciation for the people and communities you serve.
Learn from research
In today’s modern age, there is no shortage of customer data to learn from—so be sure to take advantage of it! Always stay up to date with industry research to learn what’s working and what’s not, and pair that research with polls and surveys of your own to constantly learn more.
Reach out on social media
To supplement formal research like surveys and questionnaires, reach out to your customers on social media and listen to what they have to say. Few platforms are as candid or as easy to use as Twitter, Facebook and other sites—so use these platforms to get informal, but informative, responses from your customers.
In addition to understanding the customers of today, a good business owner is always looking one step ahead. You can do this, too, by keeping an eye on industry trends and forecasts for the future. What you do today should satisfy your current customers, while preparing for the ones you hope to gain (and retain) in the months and years ahead.
Keep your audience in mind at all times
It’s always helpful to have an ideal audience, or customer, in mind as you operate your business. This will help focus your decisions and make every move more deliberate and well-thought out. Having this kind of profile in place will also make it easier for you to identify if and when your customer’s needs differ from what you’re currently providing.
Be an active industry participant
Trade shows, industry events and local chambers of commerce are your go-to sources of industry insight and community networking. Utilize these resources so that you’re always on par (or, ideally, ahead of!) the current state of your specific industry, and the current preferences of your customers.
Everyone—business owners included—makes mistakes! Embracing these mistakes lets you use them to the benefit of your business. Customer miscommunications, for example, give you a chance to correct your mistake, all while using customer feedback to learn how to prevent it from happening again.
We hope that these ideas help you get to know your customers a little better. When you do so, you’ll be able to enjoy a greater peace of mind while running your business—as well as the confidence that comes with experience and insight—which can help you immensely, no matter what business you’re in.