As a business owner, this is the first lesson in entrepreneurship for you. What is the core facet of any successful business? If you’ve answered “customer”, well then you’re almost there but not quite. The correct answer would be a “happy customer”. The mantra is pretty simple; a happy customer equals a happy business owner and a thriving business. Now, who is a customer? He or she is a person who has chosen your product over that of everyone else in the market and has made use of it. That realization alone should be enough to make you hold the customer in high regard. Why is a customer important? A customer is the one who uses your product. Naturally, they are the best agents of marketing for your company even more than advertisements in print media or that on television.
The same principle applies for any kind of business really- even in the case of contact center software solutions. Before starting any kind of business, you need to make it a point to study your customer. You should know your customer inside out before you proceed. Now, if you did not know this already, different businesses have different target audience. It can be safely assumed that the term target audience doesn’t need an elaborate explanation (it refers to the particular section of the audience your product is directed at). For example, most ecommerce companies today are directed at the younger generation who spend most of their time surfing the net. Similarly, a car dealership would be targeting their marketing strategies at people who are fond of cars.
In the case of call center software solutions, the target audience would have to be the customers who have used the product the call center is dealing with. One thing must be remembered, the call centers are probably one of the few businesses that directly interact with the customers. Naturally, if you’re the manager of the call center, you must make sure that you put yourself in the customer’s shoes and understand them. Why else do you think the concept of market research was introduced? Market research is actually carried out even before a product is launched. It is a lot like testing the waters, checking current market trends, understanding the customer insight, analysing the market and so on.
There’s one phrase in the above paragraph that demands immediate attention – customer insight. Technically, this is used to refer to customer behaviour. The term “insight” literally means a glimpse into what’s going on in someone’s mind. Careful research and analysis have revealed ways of getting a glimpse into the customer’s mind and understanding what it is exactly that they want. As a matter of fact, a business wouldn’t function without this knowledge. Getting customer insight- that’s easy! The trick is to incorporate the knowledge you have obtained into your market research. Below are a few tips as to how you can go about it. Also, you can refer to the case study which can help you understand how different businesses have used these very tips to make it big.
1) Developing a market research plan
As of 2016, most companies have their own marketing departments while some hire other marketing companies to carry out their marketing research for them. The same goes for call centers with cloud contact center software. The key is to develop a sound market research plan. Now if we were to delve into the technical terms, market research isn’t quite the same as marketing research. Market research, literally, is the research of the market. If you’re in the car dealership business, then you would have to take the relevant market into account. You would have to prepare statistics based on the current market trends, understand what the market needs at present and then analyse the data you obtain. Based on this data which has to be verified, you can come up with a splendid market research plan.
2) Understanding customer behaviour
You might think that customer behaviour is pretty random and they seem to do what they want. While that isn’t entirely wrong, you must understand that there is always a pattern. If the data obtained from cloud based call center solutions are anything to go by, you’ll see that there is always an underlying pattern behind customer behaviour. For example, a customer would be more receptive towards a product from a brand name they trust. Or if they’re faced with a dilemma between two products, they’ll always go with the one that appears more trustworthy or the ones that their friends have tried and tested. The same goes for call centers. There, studying customer behaviour is a must if you want to provide the best customer service.
3) Getting insight into the customer
In a nutshell, you should be able to predict customer behaviour. A study of the customer contact center software solutions showed that it is imperative to be able to predict customer behaviour beforehand. For example, your callers should know exactly how to deal with all kinds of situations. What if the customer gets impatient while on call? What if you aren’t able to find the right solution which the customer wants? All these situations have to be taken into account. Unless you do, how would you use the customer insight for your own benefit? You should merge the customer insight you’ve gathered with customer research and market research plans to make sure you make the most of it.
4) Use empathy interviews
Here’s a small secret – customers hardly ever know what they want. Naturally, if you bombard them with a series of questions and answers for customer research, you’ll not get satisfactory results. Instead, you should try out empathy interviews. You need to assume the role of a therapist here; and actually analyse the emotional aspect of why a customer is behaving in a certain way. You should be able to make your customers open up to you and really talk to you about what they feel instead of sticking to a more mechanical interview which wouldn’t give you the insight into what’s going on in their mind. That way, you’ll be able to use this knowledge to satisfy needs customers didn’t even know existed.
5) Observing your customers in what is known as “natural environment”
Most market research or audience studies take place in a dark, dingy room where the customers have to come down to your office and talk about what you want them to talk about. Now that’s not their natural environment! Of course, they’re going to be uncomfortable and stiff. You should make it a point to observe and talk to them in their homes or whatever else is perceived as their natural environment. In call centers dealing with cloud customer service software you’ll see that such practices are used. You want the customer to feel in charge and open up to you. With that to back you up, you’ll be able to get an insight as to the thought processes of your target audience.
6) Attending trade shows and events
Now this is important. You need to make yourself known and popular. You should attend any trade show or event that’s coming up soon. That way, you’ll be able to interact with the customers in the booths. It’s always better to talk to customers when it doesn’t actually seem like an interview. There’s another advantage of attending such an event. You get to meet and interact with many other companies and actually see them in action. You can learn from the way they approach their customers and draw them in. You can then incorporate that into your customer service as well.
7) Take at a look at how customers react to your product
This is a must if you want to make the most of your customer insight. You should observe your customers as they purchase your product. How are they reacting? Does it seem like a product they trust? Are they choosing another product over you? Do they seem to be hesitating? All this is really important because that way you can use this knowledge to make necessary changes to your marketing strategies or even to your product if the need arises. If you are selling something online, this becomes a whole lot easier for you since you’ll be able to track what the customers are seeing or what they are adding to their cart. This will tell you exactly what goes on in the audience’s mind when they see your products.
8) Gauging the competition
When you’re a part of a market, simply boasting of the best telemarketing software will not help. You’ll have to do your bit to make it to the top. And part of doing that is gauging the competition. In your entire journey, you cannot afford to lose track of the competition even once. While you’re studying your customer, you should also study the customers of your competitors and their tricks and tactics. You can do so by interviewing the customers. That way, you’ll have a clear idea as to why they prefer your competitor over you and what sets them apart. This will give you a competitive edge because you’ll be able to perfect your systems and work on your flaws.
9) Understanding the difference between customer insight and customer research
This is a mistake even some of the greatest businessmen make. But the key is to learn the difference although they do form two sides of the same coin. The word “insight” immediately conjures up images of estimates and assumption. In simpler terms, an insight is obtained after careful observations. For example, if you’re using outbound call center software and you study the behaviour of a customer, then that’s called insight. However, research is more technical as scientific. It is closely related to insight, yes, but it is more detailed in the sense it is backed by data and statistics. Most dealing with cloud contact center solutions would agree that there lies a very thin line of difference between the two important concepts.
10) Using customer insight to your advantage
Well, that is what we’ve been talking about all this while. But just to sum it up, without customer insight, you wouldn’t be able to proceed with customer research. How can you expect to come up with efficient outbound calling solutions if you don’t even understand your own customer? You need to feel what they feel, hear what they want to say and understand what they’re trying to express. With a clear understanding of their mind frame, you can come up with customer care strategies that strike a chord with them. The two are very closely related and you have to understand the relation between them if you want to provide your customers with the best services that stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Maruti Suzuki: An example to follow…
Here’s the case study we promised you. Maruti Suzuki India Limited must be a familiar name to all of you. This company is presently one of the largest contenders in India’s passenger car market. Suzuki refers to a Japanese company and it merged with the Indian company Maruti, which was founded back in 1981, to form the company that we know and love today. Why do you think Maruti Suzuki is a household name today? If you take a look at statistics, you’ll see that a majority of the population have owned a Maruti Suzuki car at one point or the other. What is it that draws the customers to the brand? Why do they trust it so much?
That is because Maruti Suzuki took all the precautions necessary to study their customers even before they ventured into the market. Customer relationship plays an important role at the company. It is based entirely on customer contact ( marketing, sales and service). Customer service and support has always been a top priority in the company. They believed in strengthening the relationship between the brand and customer from the very beginning. Naturally, in order to do that, the company analyzed their audience and got an insight into the bigger picture. They first analysed exactly who their target audience would be. Next, they pinpointed what exactly these customers look for while purchasing a car. Then, armed with the knowledge, they came up with a plan that would not only draw first time car buyers but also wean away customers of other major brands.
How did it help them?
You can see for it yourself! Does the brand name of Maruti Suzuki require any separate introduction? You mention it and people already know about it. Unlike other brands that have come and disappeared into oblivion, Maruti continues to rule the market. That is because they understand and treat their customers well. They know exactly what the customers want and are ready to do anything to provide that. At Maruti, they know that customer expectations and demands change with time. Consequently, they have adapted to the present trends and are constantly coming up with new plans and strategies.
Now this is another important factor. You cannot be satisfied with the customer insight you’ve obtained. With the market trends experiencing a constant change, you should make it a point to observe your customers all year round, even during the off seasons. You can never stop learning, can you? Who knows, you might learn something spectacular while your observing your customers buying your item for what seems like the hundredth time. You can then implement that, like Maruti Suzuki does, into your existing marketing plans to improve and enhance them.
This just goes to show that the tips provided above can help your business in ways you cannot even begin to imagine. If you’re running a business similar to Maruti Suzuki or even dealing with outbound calling software at contact centers, you need to keep the above pointers in mind. As a matter of fact, if you’re starting out with a business of your own, understanding the market and most importantly the customer should be the first thing on your checklist. Always remember, how treat you your customer will ultimately determine how the market treats you.