A powerful tool in any entrepreneur’s toolbox is their customer base. As stated in Forbes, most businesses fail to meet their customers’ needs. To avoid making the same mistake, you need to communicate with your customer and ask the right questions. Your customers are the ones to help you mitigate the risk of launching a market-irrelevant product, by providing their constructive feedback. As such, it is important to create opportunities for your customers to talk to you. As stated by the UX and Marketing Consultant and Author, Adrian Swinscoe, in The Guardian, rejuvenation of the business starts with the engagement of your customers.
When you think of an engaged customer, you think about someone who will support your business through its changes. These are the customers who feel heard and respected. According to research by Hoffman et. al, posted on Psychology Today, some customers have the ability to wrap their head around a new concept and improve it. These are called the ‘Emergent Customers’. The good news is that every business can have its ‘Emergent Customers’. The bad news is that not all businesses know who they are and how to locate them. So on several occasions, they go undiscovered.
The Emergent Customers are described as ‘optimistic’, ‘experimental’, and ‘creative’. They are the ones who will be comfortable enough with change, to objectively assess the benefits and disadvantages of a new product or service. Finding the Emergent Customers in your customer base can help you improve new products and existing services of your business while keeping up with industry demands.
So make sure to educate your customers and learn from your customers, on a regular basis.
Educate your customers. In their Harvard Business Review article, Joan Scheinder and Julie Hall, point out that the lack of market education is among the top reasons product launches fail. For example, Febreze launched a product named ‘Febreze Scentstories’ which was a CD player that emitted scents instead of music. The product ended up being confusing for the customers as the scents were emitted by discs and a well-known singer was hired to advertise it. Making it seem like a music-related product, when in fact it wasn’t. As a result, customers did not fully understand the nature or purpose of the product and were naturally not engaged.
Learn from your customers. In an article by Steve Martin, co-author of Messengers: Who We Listen To, Who We Don’t and Why, some very common questions are inevitably bound to be answered wrongly by the customers. That’s the reason professional product managers steer clear from questions such as ‘What do you believe will be the best solution’, and choose to go with questions such as ‘How easy is this product to use, compared to the previous product’. Therefore, when is your turn to ask the questions, you should ask product-specific and not ambiguous, subjective questions.
To conclude, communication with your customers is essential not only to maintain engagement but also to acquire valuable feedback, and to grow your product and business. It is your responsibility to locate those valuable customers, educate them and ask them the right questions based on your needs. In the words of Bill Gates: “Your most unhappy customer is your greatest source of learning.” Find that customer, listen to them and learn from them.