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What do customers really want?

Being able to understand and anticipate your customers’ needs gives you a definitive advantage over competitors. There are several ways to clarify what these are thanks to the advent of technology like news monitoring (for media product reviews), as well as brand analytics to give you the edge.

Best practices for achieving customer satisfaction are hotly debated. Some argue the merits of faultless suppliers to ensure genuinely happy, loyal users. Others claim that over delivery is a poor use of resources, which does not contribute sufficiently to increased brand loyalty and customer satisfaction. Proponents of effective customer care emphasise keeping it simple and delivering only what you should.

There are also different opinions of how much one should involve the customer in the development of new products and services. Steve Jobs and Henry Ford are two examples of representatives who famously wished to avoid involving the customer.

"If I asked our customers what they wanted, they would have responded, ‘Faster horses!’”," is a classic quote from Henry Ford. Steve Jobs said that Apple's customers lack the imagination and vision to anticipate new products and needs.

While their approach does not exclude listening to what customers are saying entirely, it's another thing knowing what to do with consumer insights and knowledge.

Here are some tips on how you can find out what your customers really want:

1. Ask directly

Call the customer and ask if there is something they’re missing. Get in touch with the person responsible for customer meetings or feedback. Make sure to systemise the procedure so that everyone in the company who interacts with customers asks them about their experience of your product or service.

2. Follow up via email

Send an email to your customers to ask how you can improve your product or service. Ask both closed (yes or no) and open questions (giving them the opportunity to explain their thoughts in more detail).

3. Conduct a survey

Make sure that there customers have access to a questionnaire. Surveys can also be sent via post - perhaps in connection with a recent purchase being carried out. Remember to enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope, as this makes it easier to answer. Your survey can also make the most of today’s digital environment - distribute a feedback form or questionnaire electronically through your website.

4. Listen online

Social media listening includes monitoring discussion forums, blogs and other sites. This enables you to get closer to what your customers genuinely think about your service and products. A media analytics tool such as Observify keeps your business in prime position.


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