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Customer Insight

Customer Insight Techniques

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Customer Insight Techniques

Understanding your target customer is a never-ending process. Here are some simple ways to do so:

•    Ongoing customer research, from focus groups and depth interviews to anthropological and quantitative research techniques
•    Customer satisfaction surveys
•    Maintain and monitor customer service/support mechanisms (help lines, e-mail support, etc.)
•    Establish and monitor discussion boards and chat rooms devoted to different customer groups/segments
•    Establish and consult with customer advisory boards
•    Establish customer membership organizations.  Participate in and monitor their events. (Harley-Davidson executives are masters at this.  They attend – and ride in – HOG rallies, talk with their customers at those rallies, observe new product accessories and debrief every HOG rally back at the office for new product ideas and other action items.)
•    Key executives/managers should participate in sales calls
•    Key executives/managers should occasionally rotate through front-line customer service positions
•    Hire employees who are also passionate customers. (There is one danger with this approach.  Even if you are a passionate brand customer, don’t assume that all other customers are just like you.)
•    New product people (marketers and market researchers) tend to be closest to customers and their needs in most organizations

For most businesses, environmental scanning can also be very helpful in staying abreast of the latest customer, industry and societal trends. “Environmental scanning” is a fancy term for the following process:

•    Reading a broad cross-section of books and publications of relevance to your business
•    Monitoring any other relevant media
•    Keeping very close track of the emerging trends by counting the number of times certain ideas, needs or concepts are referenced
•    Seeking to better understand emerging ideas, needs or concepts – those that are steadily increasing in frequency and intensity

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