There’s no way around it, if you want to develop a richer and deeper understanding of your customers, you have to do the work. It’s not enough to hire a consultant to ask the questions. Nor is it sufficient to take the do-it-yourself approach and simply fire off a barrage of survey questions. There’s more to it than that.
First, you need to think about what you’ll do with your new-found knowledge. Whether you’re using a passive listening post like social media scraping, or getting involved with some face-to-face qualitative interaction, knowing how (and how much) you are willing to change about your behaviour once you get those insights, is vital. Realistically, if you have no intention of changing anything about your brand, or your interaction with customers, or your sales tactics, or your messages, then spending time trying to understand what makes customers tick is probably an exercise in futility.
Assuming you are engaging your customers specifically to find out how you can adapt and change, you need to be sure that others in your organization feel the same way. This means engaging your internal stakeholders. All your good intentions will be for naught if your teammates, managers, colleagues, or employees aren’t willing to get on board the change train. This doesn’t mean they need to give you a passive nod of assent. It means they need to get involved with you – knee-deep in the messy business that is listening (not just hearing) to the customer’s voice.
Engaging folks in the process takes time. In today’s instant-results society, it seems like it would be much easier to skip this step. But in reality, if you are to be successful in using what you learn from talking to buyers or users of your brand, you need to see a demonstrated willingness to get involved. This means negotiating and discussing who the customer really is. It means exploring just how far you can go without losing sight of what your product is all about, and what your brand really means. And it also means being committed to doing the work at the end of the day, when the feedback is clear and the implications are all figured out.
So the next time you’re thinking about going out to do some “quick and dirty” market sensing, remember: it’s you who’ll need to do some of the “getting dirty”.
Rolling up our sleeves and getting to work,
Megann and Steve