Take these 4 KEY steps to REALLY understand your customer

April 30, 2020

Before I started my own business I did a lot of market research.

I wanted to understand who my competitors would be, what they were providing and what they were doing in order to be successful.

However, what I found was that so many new businesses, both in my industry and others, who had built fantastic products seemed to be projecting their product or service to the wrong type of customer or even what I considered to be totally the wrong market.

They didn't seem to fully understand who their customer base was. How could this be the case?

Had they not done research before they released their product? Had they not really understood who their customer is going to be? Had they not honed in on the right demographic for what they’re providing?

This intrigued me more and I started to research further why this appeared to be the case, so that when I start my business I could truly focus on who I would be selling to.

One thing is for sure. The successful companies that I came across often tended to be those who really understood their customers and who were able to effectively engage and deal with them.

Whether you have already released your product or service or even if you’re still in the early stages of setting up your business, please take note of these following tips.

1. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer

Truly think about the entire journey your customer would take from the thought processes in their heads that led them to want or need your product, right through to the purchase decision.

Try to find answers to these questions:

  • What could their back story be?
  • Where are they from?
  • What has got them to this moment?
  • Are they frustrated or happy with their current position (with regard to what you could provide them)?
  • Why do they want it?
  • Do they need it?
  • Why do you care about the answers to all these questions?

When you’ve figured out the answers to all of these, especially the last one, then you’ll start to better understand your potential clients and how you can better engage with them.

Expand on this further, by mapping out the buying journey

The Next Web highlights 6 phases to go through to enhance this mapping.

Customers go through a process when thinking about a new product. S/he goes on a buying journey, starting from the stage of being aware that something is missing that would enhance their life in some way.

You need to be aware of this, before discovering the actual product or service that could potentially fill this gap.

Take a look at each stage in the funnel image below and this will set the foundation for the specific roadmap that is right for your business.

2. Segment your customers

To truly understand your customers, delve a little deeper to recognise their preferences and develop several buyer personas.

After all, not all customers are equal.

Yes, factors such as age, profession and location are important but they don’t provide you with enough info to get into the mindset of your customers.

If you have an online presence, which is imperative these days, using additional segmentation tools, such as Google Analytics, enable you to better understand:

  • Where your traffic originates from
  • What device they use to visit your site
  • What social media platform directed them to you
  • What links they used to get to your website
  • Which pages on your site they visit the most and so are most interested in

And so much more.

Once you’ve gathered this information, you can apply this to the customer personas you have built, which should provide you with a stronger understanding of how to deal and engage with which type of customer and when.

3. Engage and communicate

Once you have gained a new customer, your work with that individual has not ended. It has only just begun.

After all, the most important thing you need to do now is keep them.

And how do you keep them?

You engage.

It’s so important for customer retention and if you can do it in real time, all the better.

There are a number of ways to do this, but an increasingly popular medium is via an online chat, so that you can speak to customers as they browse through your website.

And the more you speak to your customer base, the more you understand their needs and requirements, as well as enable you to collect valuable information into your customer.

But you should go beyond the faceless chat box on your website.

If you’re able to, schedule regular calls to speak to your customers directly on the phone. Face-to-face would be even better.

This will help you really get to understand what is and isn’t working about your product.

It will also provide additional insight and behavioural patterns that should enable you to adjust the way you project your business or how you sell your product to others.

Increasingly popular also are customer satisfaction surveys.

According to Gizmodo, there are three core principles when designing your customer satisfaction survey:

  1. Remove bias: It is important to ask for feedback but remember: you are after your customer’s opinion, be it positive or negative, not your own. So, think carefully about how you ask your questions and remove any semblance of your personal opinion from it. This will provide you with the best insight into the customer’s experience with your product.
  2. Be concrete: Be upfront about what you’re asking about. Avoid miscommunication by not using any insider or industry jargon.
  3. Stay focused: Address one area of the customer experience so you can use that takeaway and act upon it. The survey shouldn’t be too long, taking the average respondent two minutes or less.

4. Predict your future customer

By understanding the current and past behaviours of your customers, you will be able to make analytical and educated predictions on how future trends should develop.

Your analysis can help you map out possible opportunities to both cross-sell your product as well as upsell.

The segmentation process, as stated above, will aid you to develop alternative solutions to any unforeseen issues that arose for specific customer sets that prevented the customer from purchasing your product or service.

If you came across any concerns or negative points that arose from your research, don’t take these too much to heart because this could ultimately end up being the most valuable feedback that you’ve gathered.

It will allow you to adjust your strategy and create a plan that addresses these concerns for your future customers.

This is the key that develops and grows your business so that your customer experience consistently improves to become a unique and increasingly positive one in the future, regardless of which sector you’re in.

And this, in itself, will generate more customer growth.


Whilst this may seem a lot of work to undertake, it is so important to take your time to follow it though.

Analytical tools and today’s more sophisticated forms of communication, however, should make the interactions you have with your customers an easier experience.

Everyone’s business is different, so you need to consider what forms of research and engagement would be best for your business and personal situation.

I hope the above informational steps will inspire you to make those choices and take you down a path that brings additional impetus to your business.

What steps worked out for you? Please do share in the comments below.

This document is Marketing Material for a retail audience and does not constitute advice or recommendations. All content and views are solely those of the author and are for informational purposes only. Past performance is not a guide to future performance and may not be repeated. The value of investments and the income from them may go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amount originally invested.

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