The Quest to Know Your Customers

Tip of the Iceberg

You understand that the game of modern business isn’t won by capturing the next transaction. You’re passed that. Now you’re learning how to relate to your customers.

Look at any of your personal relationships to see how difficult relating to another human being can be. Here, you’re tasked with relating to a customer—someone you don’t know and probably will never know personally. This challenge is so formidable it dissuades many business leaders from even trying.

The task of relating is made easier by knowledge and understanding. You may not get to meet all of your customers face to face, but the better you understand who they are, the easier it is to relate to them through every interaction they have with your brand.

So we begin our journey with customer intelligence. We often start in the obvious places: market and consumer research.

Understanding the Outer Life of Your Customers

We acquire a lot of data on our customers’ purchasing behavior: their likes and dislikes, their social groups, their web habits, and a host of other easily trackable forms of “big data.” We come to know their age, income level, level of education, occupation, marital status, how many kids they have, and where they go to dinner on Friday nights.

All of this information is useful, and in the hands of a competent marketer, this data can be used to help win market share in the short term. But does it really help you relate to your customers? Is it enough to forge a meaningful bond? Unlikely.

Customer intelligence starts with knowledge of our customers’ outer worlds (all of the metrics listed above). But forming a meaningful relationship with our customers require us to go deeper—to probe the hearts and minds of the people we are trying to serve.

Exploring Your Customers’ Subconscious Mind

True “consumer insights” reveal what’s below the surface. To explore the inner lives of our customers we must ask a different set of questions, including:

  • How do our customers feel about us?

  • What do they believe we stand for?

  • What do they value above all else?

  • What are their hopes and dreams?

  • What are the dominant images they associate with us?

  • What needs are they striving to meet? How can we help them meet those needs?

  • What tensions are they wrestling with each day? How can we help resolve these tensions?

Try answering these questions for yourself and for someone close to you to appreciate the complexities of our inner lives. These are not easy questions to answer and yet this is the task of today’s inspired business leaders looking to know their customers.

Forging into this arena is certainly not for everyone. You might have to let go of many cherished beliefs about your customers. You might come to realize how little you know about the people who give your business existence—the very lifeblood of your enterprise.

But if you’re brave, if you dare to discover, and if you’re excited about the possibilities this new customer intelligence can bring to your business, give us a ring. We love helping businesses see their customers as human beings rather than statistics. It’s why we exist to serve you.

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