How well do you really know your customers? It’s a question businesses need to be asking themselves more and more because, even if you feel you know your customers well, there’s always more work to be done.


The old ways of gauging customer satisfaction and interpreting customer actions, while useful in the past, simply aren’t as effective as they used to be. Customers have become more discerning, spending more time researching before making major purchases. With more information at their fingertips, customers aren’t as swayed by traditional marketing tactics. They’re now looking for a more personal touch. That means you need to be more active than ever before in finding out what they expect. Customers are also more willing to tell you what they want, but the key is being willing to listen to have they have to say.


Like many in the industry, you probably relied a great deal on customer surveys to get a feel for the decision making process customers usually go through when considering a product or service you offer. Surveys certainly have their place, but you should definitely consider other methods that produce more accurate results, including conjoint analysis.


While not necessarily a new concept, conjoint analysis has recently been put to good use in figuring out what drives customers in greater detail. Conjoint analysis involves asking respondents about which products or services they value more when compared to one or several other options. A single question of this type only gives a broad picture of customer views, but when many such questions are asked, organizations can establish rankings on what customers value most.


Based off of these rankings, customers can be segmented into different types, improving a business’s efforts to reach out to them more effectively. Conjoint analysis also enables you to figure out which segment should be prioritized, or which one will respond to you most positively. But that’s only part of listening to your customers. Some methods go even further in depth, well beyond answering simple questions.


Empathy interviews are one such technique that involves discussing subjects with each customer one-on-one. These interviews are designed to act as more casual conversations and not as an interviewer reading previously prepared questions from a list. Qualified empathy interviewers are able to uncover the emotions and subconscious motivations for customer actions. In other words, they can reveal the “why” behind the decision making process.


Sometimes, customers can tell you a lot about themselves without even saying a word. This requires you to be observant of their actions as they behave naturally. If you pay close attention to what they do when they buy your product, you can pick out the process and understand where certain pain points might pop up. Doing so may require using surveillance services to observe customers while at your store, or you may use advanced analytics technologies to monitor customer actions while they’re shopping on your online site. Such technologies can even track where customers click and how much time they may spend on a particular page. These are all messages customers can convey without even realizing it.


More information can be found when you pay attention to how people act on social media. Through social listening techniques, you can find out what people are saying and how they perceive your brand the moment the mention your company. When people interact on social media, they usually don’t have the same kind of filter they would have when speaking to a customer representative or survey giver. It’s a refreshingly honest look at what people think about your company and can heavily influence product development, pricing changes, and much more.


Your customers have a lot to say about your business. The big question is whether or not you’re actually listening to them. Receiving feedback from them can prove very beneficial to your company, helping guide your decisions well into the future. Consider your relationship with your customers as a sort of partnership. Both of you want to benefit, and both stand to gain a lot if you work together and listen closely to each other.