Turning inner space into outer space

May 31, 2014

Grow your business by getting to know your customers

If you’re hoping to expand your business, one of the most important things you can do is communicate with customers. Let them tell you what you’re doing right or wrong so you can make changes to make them happy — and they pull out their credit cards more often.

During a recent talk at Thompson Rivers University, sponsored by Kamloops Innovation, Lars Lofgren, Growth Manager at KISSmetrics, pointed out that it’s important to get to know what potential customers are thinking before you even start a business.

KISSmetrics is a competitor to Google Analytics, offering insight into data collected from visitors to websites offering a product or service.

Lofgren said if you want to know whether your product is good enough to build a business on, you should ask 500 people this question: How would you feel if you could no longer use my product? 1. Very disappointed. 2. Somewhat disappointed. 3. Not disappointed. Your goal is to have 40 per cent respond that they would be very disappointed.

If the numbers aren’t where you want them, you can use surveys that focus on making things better for those who would be somewhat disappointed.

Surveys should try to get at people’s feelings. What is the primary benefit of the product? How could it be improved? How would you describe it? Send the survey to 500 people and hope to get responses from 50. Categorize the responses.

You want to learn the major benefits they find, the major problems they run into and the their perception of the product. Take the feedback from the somewhat disappointed group and give them more of what they want.

Other tips: Expect a 10-per-cent response; only ask questions that you need; don’t exceed 10 questions; start with an open response; categorize responses to see trends.

Lofgren said feedback forms at the bottom of every page of your website are also a good idea. They can be set up so that clicking on a question expands it into a form. He said they’re great for picking up little annoyances, and suggested paying attention to trends.

Taking the next step, there is good old fashioned talking one on one. New technology means this doesn’t necessarily have to be done in person, though. Alternatives include Skype and Google Hangouts.

Lofgren suggested getting a brief overview of who customers are, diving deep into their problems, and presenting a solution for feedback. Do at least 20 of these. Most people want to help, but you could offer discounts as an incentive.

— photo credit: Kelowna Now