Know your Customers

Speaking at the Tourism Society Annual Conference this week, the theme for our session was compete and the title for my section “The 5 secrets of success for SMEs”.

There were 101 ideas I could have shared, so honing this down to my just 5 was a challenge. I’ve picked just one of these for today’s blog post, “Know Your Customers”

Unless you have a clear picture in your mind of your customer it’s nigh on impossible to meet expectations, let alone exceed them.

Love your customers

I’m sure we all have customers who we dread doing business with. You know the one’s – they’re hard work and earn you little profit, and at times can suck you of all your energy and enthusiasm. And when we don’t enjoy working with certain people it’s not only dispiriting for us, it’s generally evident in some way for the customer too.

So focus on the customers you do what!

The idea for some business owners of effectively turning away any customer can be a daunting one. But think about it; if you expel all your energies on the ‘wrong’ customers if we’re not careful we don’t have enough time, energy or resources to serve those who are our ideal.

And the more you ‘love’ your customers, the more interest you’ll show in them, the more you can be yourself and the better you’ll serve them.

 

Define who they are

So once you’ve determined the customers you like to attract, the more detail you have to define them the easier it will be for you to attract them. How does this work? Well for a start you’ll start to spot your perfect customers (a bit like when you hear your name mentioned in a room full of people your ears prick up, or you’re so aware if someone is wearing the same tie or dress as you, or has the same car).

Your reticular activating system is the part of your brain that filters information coming through your senses and highlights things that are relevant to you; in this case your ideal customers. The clearer you are on whom they are the more effective this filter will work!

Once you have your perfect customers in mind it will be a whole to easier for them to find you too. It’ll be easier to communicate with them using their language and you’ll know where you need to be for them to find you. (Any business who tries to appeal to everyone will have a hard time doing this.)

 

Build a relationship

Once you’re talking their language it will be so much easier to engage with your customers, get their attention and start to build a relationship. We all know people like to do business with those they know, like and trust. Engaging with your customers before they actually start to do business with you means they’ll be far more receptive to buy when the time comes.

There are plenty of ways to do this; the language you use on your website, the tone and messages in your blog, responding to discussions or mentions on social media, the way you deal with enquiries, confirmation of bookings or orders, sharing useful information, tips and before they buy, being accessible to answer queries, asking questions to identify what they want (more on this in a moment…).

And the more you build the relationship beforehand the easier it will be to ascertain their needs so you can meet these and exceed them.

 

What’s important

Never assume you know what your ideal customer wants! You might know what they need, but if they don’t recognise this too you’ll have a hard time trying to convince them until you’ve met their wants. And the only way to do this is to ask!

Now, I do recognise that if we always wait for our customers to tell us what they want we’d have little opportunity to innovate or develop new offers. So the other way to approach this is to find out what needs they are trying to satisfy and then innovate to find a way to satisfy this need. And if it’s impossible to satisfy all their needs, then ask them to prioritise. For example, is price more important than quality? Is time/speed/convenience more important than price? Is quality more important than choice? Break the mould if you have to meet these priorities.

Bear in mind the same customers may place a higher priority on different things at different times. Time of day/year, who they are with, what stage they are at in the buying cycle, and so on.

The clearer your picture of what your customer is trying to achieve or what need they want to meet the easier to will be to meet this. And the more we’re able to tailor or personalise to meet specific customer situation the more they’ll appreciate it and the better their experience.

 

So here we have four considerations to getting to know your customers better so you can not only meet their expectations, but exceed them too.

If you’d like to see the rest of the presentation from the Tourism Society Conference you can view it here

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