Business growth can sometimes seem unattainable and you are often left wondering, What makes successful businesses successful? Why are they experiencing business growth and my team is not?
The good news is what these businesses are doing is no secret! If you observe these high-growth companies' behaviour, you will notice two things that make them stand out:
- they seek to understand their customers
- they consistently place the customer at the centre of their business
The value of market research, in particular collecting qualitative data on your customers, has been no secret and yet only a few businesses are getting it right. It makes you think that maybe it is not that people do not understand the value of market research, rather they do not understand what customer research actually entails.
Understanding your customers
Many businesses underestimate what it means to understand their customers. It is not good enough to have an average understanding. You need to use customer feedback from existing customers, customer surveys, and market research to have intimate knowledge of their needs, wants, and expectations. This will ensure you are always able to deliver on customer expectations and be one step ahead of the competition.
However, many businesses do not realise how important it is to elevate their customer understanding. In turn, a lot of businesses are in the “average understanding” part of the 2 X 2 below.
A company that puts its customers at the centre of everything it does is a company that will succeed. This means that they have a deep understanding of their customer satisfaction levels and what they need to improve. The customer focus allows businesses to establish trust and credibility with their customer base, which is essential for business growth. However, the proportion of customer centric businesses experiencing strong growth is very small relative to those with average customer understanding.
To understand your customers you need to ask the right questions. This is where market research comes in. Customer surveys and customer feedback are two powerful tools that will help you get to know your customers better. Customer surveys provide quantitative data that can be used to track customer satisfaction levels over time. Customer feedback, on the other hand, provides qualitative insights that help you understand the customer’s experience and how they feel.
The problem with having an average understanding of your customers and their general problems is that it’s not enough to know what exactly are the right things to do to get customers to truly engage. If you do not measure customer satisfaction with attention to detail and genuine interest, you are giving other companies a competitive advantage. If another company asks questions that you are not, they will better satisfy their customers and draw potential customers away from your business.
To achieve customer satisfaction you cannot use obvious insights, because many valuable insights will only be uncovered through market research.
What are valuable customer insights?
Is your organisation stuck in the red zone with everyone else, doing regular types of research similar to what all of your competitors are undertaking? Truly understanding customers, their drivers and needs are what is required to really be able to predict customer behaviours, answer their deep needs, know how you can help them overcome any obstacles that may stop them from engaging with you, and then making their journey with you as valuable as possible. If you rethink how your clients use your product or service, your customer support efforts will not go unnoticed!
True understanding helps you to know exactly what you need to do to achieve all of these things because you have richer, deeper insights that your competition does not have. The trick is knowing how to get these insights through customer research.
How to conduct customer research?
Those in the green square replace the idea that success will come by living in a world of certainty, conviction and inflexibility about the ways of the past with the idea that success can be attained by approaching problems with curiosity, open-mindedness and flexibility.
They accept that customers may not always behave in ways that seem rational to them, because customer behaviours are driven by other emotional overlays that can only be understood with research that digs deep enough to develop true empathy.
This approach turns customer understanding into a superpower.
When you have this, you can understand why your customers behave the way they do and design for it, answer the problems they are trying to solve and know what customers will truly value the most, rather than implementing ideas that you hope they’ll find valuable.
Over the last 13 years, we’ve developed a rigorous system for deep customer understanding and development of insights that have been used across Australia and Europe, across multiple categories and industries.
Using the structured approach of Proto’s Customer Thinking Framework provides clarity by fitting these various pieces of the puzzle together to fully understand how your organisation’s actions impact your customer and feed into their actions and behaviours.
Using this approach makes it crystal clear what needs to change now, next and later to ensure you are engaging with your customers exactly how they need and want you to. Ultimately, ensuring they stay on your customer journey.
Consistently Places the customer at the centre
Customer loyalty will never be achieved if you do not take a genuine interest in your customers. After all, why should customers be loyal to your brand if you are not willing to show loyalty to them? This means that your customer lifetime value will be reduced and you will reduce your return on investment (ROI).
Customer centricity is a term that often gets floated around but very few people actually understand what it means to be a customer centric company. Customer centricity is when the customers' needs, wants and pain points are the central business focus. From product development to customer service, every touchpoint must take into consideration what the customer wants and needs. This is then translated from theory into practice by shifting policies and processes to address customer needs. So to create a customer centric culture you:
- Define what customer centricity means for your organisation
- Put the customer at the heart of everything you do
- Make customer centricity a core value
- Invest in customer experience
- Empower employees to act in the customer's best interest
- Use customer feedback
Any business could do these things on a one-off occasion but the key separator between low-growth and high-growth businesses is whether they consistently put the customer at the centre. It is not satisfactory to conduct customer research, collect customer feedback or do qualitative data analysis of customer experience once. It must be a sustained process.
Customers are not static, they're relationships, environments, and financial footing are always changing which means that their needs are also ever-changing. Your business needs to be able to adapt to the dynamic nature of customers. Customer centric companies have a high customer satisfaction score because they use a flexible approach rather than a rigid framework.
Where should I start my Market Research Journey?
So you want your business to be successful and grow, but you're not sure how to start understanding customers and/or create a customer centric environment. Proto partners can help you with that. We are experts in customer experience and we will help you understand your customers so that you can continue providing them with the best possible experience.
We take a customer centric approach to qualitative research. This means that we design our research projects with the customer in mind. We start by asking ourselves what the customer wants to know and then we design the project accordingly. This customer focus allows us to provide our clients with insights that they can use to improve their businesses.
If you want to learn more about how market research can help your business grow, contact us today. We would be happy to discuss your specific needs and goals and see how we can help you achieve them!