Do you know your customers? “Of course,” says the sales department. “I receive direct feedback when it comes to wishes and complaints.” And ideally, you there in the management, marketing or product development departments, you also occasionally seek a direct dialogue at trade fairs and customer events. The problem? “What people say, what people do, and what they say they do are entirely different things.” (Margaret Mead)

Do you know what really concerns, frightens, inspires or influences your customers?

Customer centration as a success factor has been proven many times over. Some forget that their customers are people, and not abstract and automatons that can be externally manipulated. Customer centricity does not work without the ‘human’ customer and not without a deep understanding of what inspires or motivates your customers, what annoys them or gives them limitations. It is not enough to pore over tables full of market figures, nor is it enough to get together and create empathy maps or personas in workshops based on one’s own views and past experiences. These are certainly contemporary and helpful tools for customer-centric working methods, but they cannot be based on clichés or adhere to perceptions whose subjectivity makes them one-sided. But those who dive deep enough into the living and working situations of customers beforehand, who experience their customers live and are curious about the actual problems and solutions their customers have at the moment will find keen insights - the basis of successful product and service offers and communication, due to their relevance for the customer.

Professionals can help you identify the needs of your customers:

We are all first and foremost ‘people’ and perceive our customers through the filter of our own professional goals and expertise, and perhaps also through our own wishes. Insight experts and qualitative researchers have training and methods that ensure the quality of customer surveys: Using valid criteria, they recommend how many and which customers should be surveyed to ensure reliable findings, they know how to ask (without suggesting answers) and they have an analysis toolkit to identify relevant findings and make the right conclusions for good decisions. But above all, they are “neutral” in what they do. In professionally conducted in-depth interviews, directly on site, by phone or via Skype, the insight expert, in a manner completely free of sales intentions and business myopia, reveals what even your customer is not necessarily aware of.

Surveying is good, but observing is even better

Accompanied observation of activities and processes during in-office visits and home visits are additional proven methods used by qualitative researchers. They enable companies to empathise directly with their customers’ situation and to discover wishes and expectations from a customer perspective: What do customers do, how do they actually act and how do they look for solutions? For example, actual customer journeys or process flows can be mapped, and insights for innovations or relevant touch points in the service chain can be identified. This is important information for customer experience concepts and communication.

Immerse yourself digitally in the world of your customers - change your perspective

An alternative digital method is observation using mobile ethnography, which has only become possible with the prevalence of smartphones and is used successfully by neundorfer Research & Insights in innovation and customer experience projects. With a specially developed Observe app, customers recruited particularly for such studies post images and comments on relevant topics over an agreed period of time, documenting their daily routine and showing a problem they experienced right in the thick of things. And as the client, you can directly observe what happens to your product or service in “real life” on a computer. You are involved precisely at the time and in the area that appears to be important to your customers. And because the study is backed by data protection in accordance with market research guidelines and the findings are only analysed in anonymous form, customers additionally reveal things that they don’t want to or can’t say directly to a salesperson in a nice conversation at a trade fair or at a customer conference.

If you are interested or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us: call +49 (0)611 . 238 50 10 or by eMail to kontakt(at)diefirma.de.

Tip

Dare to change in our workshop "Customer Insights" your perspective: from product value to customer value, enabling you to identify potential for successful customer experience management.
More information about the workshop

Cover: Matteo Paciotti Licence: CC BY 2.0