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Can you really know your customer?

Posted by Gina Mayhead - 08 October, 2019

Know Your Customer! An easy thing to say, but what does it mean, and how do you go about it?

What does it mean?

In a nutshell, it means knowing who your customers are and what drives them to make a purchase, be that a sofa, a car or professional services. Customer motivations can be split broadly into two categories: functional drivers and experiential drivers.

Functional drivers might include price, suitability for purpose, convenience, ease of use and reliability; experiential drivers might include choice, customer service, control and empathy.

How do you go about it?

The single most effective tool at your disposal to get closer to your customers is primary market research. Research in all its forms drives insights, and evidence-based insights make the difference between thinking you know your customer and really knowing your customer.

What Your Customer Sees

You work for your company; if you’re the business owner you likely work, eat, sleep and live your company. Believe me when I say: “You are too closely involved to see what your customers see”. I call it internal blindness. Mystery shopping gives you the perfect customer’s eye-view of your product or services. Mystery shopping is carried out by real people, people who either already are your customer or could well be in the future. You can’t get much closer than that.

Newsflash! Customers are not a homogenous group: different customers require different approaches and, in many cases, different services or products too. Committing to an ongoing mystery shopping programme allows you and your staff to get close to diverse customers and customer behaviours. You can use those learnings to add nuance to your sales strategies and differentiate your approach whilst maintaining or improving universal elements of customer experience.

Reward Good Performance

Regular mystery shopping allows you to monitor, improve and reward staff performance on a continuous basis which in turn delivers continuous improvement in customer experience. Clever companies tend to have very transparent training and reward programmes. Mystery shopping becomes a key component of their staff training and employees welcome the chance to both show off what they do well and learn what they can do better. As a tool for consistent and high-quality customer service, mystery shopping is hard to beat.

Mixed Methodology – Robust Results

Well-designed mystery shopping programmes deliver robust quantitative and qualitative data – the holy grail of market insights. You get the “what happened” story (data driven, quantitative data) and the “why it happened” story (granular, qualitative commentaries). Add to that some “so what?” reporting to weave the numbers and the anecdotal together and you’re suddenly in a powerful position to see what’s going well and where you might need to improve or adapt.

The same is true for other primary research methodologies which have the customer centre stage; Carefully thought-out exit questionnaires, focus groups with different customer profiles; there are numerous ways to open the dialogue and find out what your customers are thinking and why. The beauty of market research is that it’s conducted by a third party, a research expert highly skilled at drawing out insights that your sales team doing a follow-up call simply cannot. The market researcher is an impartial sounding board who can build up trust and follow avenues of discussion that a simple closed-question survey is unlikely to reach.

That insight data and analysis has multiple applications in your business; let’s take it back to the functional and experiential motivations that drive consumers. Functionally, you can investigate price sensitivity, assess the relative importance of different product/service features, measure reliability and convenience. On the experiential side you have a window on how your company makes your customers feel; how much choice and control they experience when using your product/service and, perhaps most importantly, would they recommend you to friends and family?

At Yomdel, we pride ourselves on offering a tailored approach to our clients’ business and research objectives. Our clients use us as it suits them, and that’s how it should be. We will give you our expert opinion on how best to structure your research and what metrics you should include, but beyond that the world is your oyster. The questionnaires are individually created for each client allowing you to cover whatever specific details about the sales process or CX you wish to cover. Our mystery shoppers are a picky bunch and they’ll make sure your business is not cutting any corners or fobbing your customers off with sub-optimal customer service.

Yomdel Insight Services offers a comprehensive suite of market research solutions. Whether you want to know who your customers are, what they think of your customer service or whether an innovative idea is a viable product launch, we can help.

If you'd like to chat, please contact me, Gina Mayhead, Yomdel Head of Insight Services & Innovation,
Tel: 07834572570, Email: gina.mayhead@yomdel.com

Topics: Customer Insights, Mystery Shopping