What Questions Should You Ask Your Customers to Understand Them Better?

Any small business that cares about growing bigger and getting better can learn a lot by soliciting information from its customers. As we discussed in a previous blog, customer surveys are an excellent way to improve your understanding of what your clients want and how they make decisions. Ask the right questions, and surveys can help you tailor your efforts in a range of areas, including marketing, product offerings and customer support.

So, what should you be asking when you survey your customers for feedback and information? Here’s are some of the best questions for generating insightful, actionable answers.

How did you hear about us?

This question is invaluable for learning which of your marketing channels brings in the most (and best) leads. Once you know the answer to that, you’ll know which channels to spend more time and energy improving, and which ones aren’t worth paying to maintain.

What do our competitors do better than us, and what do we do better than them?

You’ve probably spent some time comparing yourself to competing businesses, sizing your offerings up against theirs. Even so, hearing how your customers perceive and interpret those differences can be especially enlightening. They bring an honesty and impartiality to the question that can be difficult for you to achieve. For instance, while you might grudgingly admire a competitor’s pricing structure or breadth of offerings, hearing your customers rave about those things will hammer home their importance. When it comes to the things you do best, ideally they’ll tell you something that differentiates you from the crowd. Pay attention for answers that come up repeatedly, even if the subject seems insignificant – it might be something worth incorporating into your marketing efforts.

What are your biggest worries or problems?

Truth be told, customers care a lot more about themselves than they do about you. Ultimately, they’re not really all that interested in the amazing attributes of your products and services. They just want to know what those things you offer can to make life better and easier for them. Once you understand what keeps your customers up at night, you can tailor your marketing message directly to solving that problem. More often than not, a sales pitch that promises peace-of-mind will be more effective than one promoting innovation and ingenuity.

What is one thing we should never stop doing, and what is one thing we should start doing right away?

The first part of this question will tell you what aspect of the experience your customers truly value when dealing with your business. Whether it’s top-notch service and support, or a unique product offering, you’ll learn more about how your business stands out from the crowd. The second part of the question offers customers a chance for empowerment by letting them tell you what they’d like to see changed or improved, whether it’s a more streamlined billing process or better follow-up. In some cases, your customer’s answers can be the impetus for a new innovation or product you hadn’t considered before, opening the door to extra sales and improved profits.

What would you Google to find a business like ours?

In a world of increasingly web-savvy shoppers, it’s essential to know the keywords, phrases and ideas that potential customers associate with your business. When you work in an industry for a long time, or constantly collaborate with like-minded people, it can be easy to slip into jargon and technical language when discussing your products and services. Most people, however, tend to initiate searches for new products or businesses by using simple, clear terms that anyone can understand. Ask your customers for the search terms they associate with your business and you’ll have an improved understanding of how potential clients arrive at your website. This will help you refine your efforts when it comes to search engine optimization and the use of tools such as Google AdWords. More importantly, however, you can use their answers in your marketing, helping you better connect and communicate with customers in language they understand, rather than industry jargon.

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