Clients are not only the source of financial success of a company, but also the source of the most valuable information. Business growth is built on information, and we should not underestimate the role of clients in the information flow.
Clients are obviously the core of any business. Normally we consider clients as those who buy our products and services. That is correct for financial reports. For business growth purposes it is useful to think wider and include prospects and former clients to the client circle. This will provide you with answers to the most important questions about your business growth.
Customers know better how good your products or customer service are. Sometimes customers know ins and outs of your products better than your staff does. When you learn how to reach customers’ thoughts, tough decisions will become much easier.
There are many ways to ask customers for help in business growth hacking, and here are some of them.
Customer feedback and reviews
Some customers readily write reviews even if you do not ask them to. In the most cases, this happens when they strongly like or dislike something about your company. Such feedback can point out your strongest and weakest sides. In the meantime, most of customers do not provide any reviews until being asked. If your company really cares about customers’ opinion, you must implement a strategy of collecting customer reviews.
The strategy of collecting customer review should include current customers, former customers and lost prospects. Current customers will help you understand how you are doing now, if your products and services get better or worse. Former customers may explain why clients leave your company. Lost prospects will give you insights on how you can improve your sales and marketing efforts.
For software providers, involving customers in beta-testing is a cheap and fast way to collect feedback about new software, and fix all the issues (or at least critical ones) before the official launch. The method perfectly works for small companies, that cannot afford expensive QA tests, or for complicated products that require huge amount of tests on multiple environments. You can also receive good insights on usability and features.
Unlike customer feedback and reviews, surveys help deeper investigate customer behavior. When customers write a review, they write what they care about. They structure their message according to their own priorities. The data from customer reviews is often hard to structure, and it does not allow to understand customer’s motivation. A survey is a well structured set of questions that is aimed at a particular goal. Surveys allow to collect structured information, uncover motivation and behavioral patterns.
Surveys are not easy to conduct. You should be very careful with words, questions, questions order, questions logic, target audience, place and way of delivering your questionnaires. It is even more difficult to correctly interpret the results. In other words, hire someone who knows how to conduct surveys, or read as much as you can about it before doing it yourself.
Remember that a wrong word in a question will bring you a wrong answer. A wrong question will bring you a wrong answer. A wrong respondent will bring you misleading information. Wrong time and place will not allow a respondent answer accurately. The person who is not experienced in interpreting survey results will bury all your efforts. Survey is a very powerful tool. If you do it right, it will uncover great insights for your business growth. If you do it wrong, you’d better not make any decisions based on the results.
Two heads are better than one. Many heads are better than two. If you are striving for ideas, crowdsourcing is a great way to open horizons. Ask for ideas your employees, your family and friends, your clients, your Facebook fans and Twitter followers, ask strangers and neighbours. You never know where a great idea may come from.
Talk to your clients
Yes, it’s that simple. The best way to get into your customer’s head is to simply talk to them. They may tell you everything about your products, and products of your competitors, they will let you know who is their favorite employee in your company and why, who delivers the best and the worst experience. In a private conversation you may learn the information that customers will never let you know in a review or a survey.
Make friends with your customers, and good luck!