Understanding Your Customers: Their Many Shades Of Grey
The people in your world are like the colors of one large rainbow—multicolored, diverse and dissimilar. You take a walk into the market place and two sellers of the same wares speak the same language but behave differently.
It is not only true of those who sell; it is also true about those who buy. People are as different as they come.
If your profession deals enormously with people, probably true, you are preoccupied with knowing them in what shade of colors they come. Therefore, you cannot afford the lazy proclivity of looking at people in black and white lenses only.
There are listless shades of grey!
Business aside, one of the banes of casual relationships with people is how we slothfully dismiss our encounters as good or bad. It becomes increasingly stressful to wade into other spectra of descriptions. After all, our emotions which help us with the knowledge of our feelings operate easiest in the default mode where we are most acquainted.
It is easier to describe our feelings about a person as ‘good or bad’ than to describe them with words like (intrigue, anticipation, bored, accepting, pensive, curious, tender).
They are one of the reasons why the same people who piss you off find the other colleague interesting or your competitors sweeter and nicer than you.
They are a chunk of the reasons why you find your business overwhelming and someone else is having a joy ride through the process. Something is wrong about how you describe your encounters with people(especially your customers) and broadening your range of expectation about them will help you relate better.
Many of your customers won’t fit in those narrow options. Because they don’t suit appropriately into your categorization, “ the two types of customers”. You either try to force them to be who they aren’t by relating with them strongly out of your conviction of them or expect they respond to you in your stereotypic understanding of them.
So, how do you solve the problem of understanding your customers:
- Listen to understand, not to reply: Not listening to your customers in this way means you will consistently fail to understand them or what they want at any given point. It also means you will fail to grasp opportunities to satisfy or delight them, and will miss otherwise obvious opportunities to increase customer value. So, try to listen with your four ears.
- Actually talk to your customers: Spend a lot of time talking to customers face to face. Engage them. Ask questions. Genuinely talk with your customers as a person who wants to understand their needs. Address your customers by name, and tell them your name at the very beginning of your interaction. Talk to your customers as you would in person, not like you would in a press release.
- Spend time learning who they are, if they have questions, how often they use your product, how they found you, what they love, where they want to see improvements etc. Rather than guessing, debating, or testing there is so much value in just asking. The more they talk with you, the more loyal they become.
- Stand in your customers shoes: “The first step in exceeding your customers expectations is to know those expectations.” Roy H. Williams. One of the ways to understand your customers is to ask what you would want if you were in their shoes. The golden rule of love is equally applicable in business. Love your neighbor as yourself or do unto others what you will have them do to you. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.
- Ask questions of yourself: If I had a problem with a product, would I have wanted a patient answer? How do I want to be welcomed when I get into a store or a business facility? If I were the 70 yr old man, will I prefer to stand in the queue or sit and wait until it’s my turn? Questions like this can make a difference in your approach to how you setup your work environment for your customers’ convenience as well as how well you treat them.
- Individualise each customer: You have to truly understand the needs of individuals who do business with you. Understand their uniqueness- their temper issues, overbearing attitudes, friendly nature, etc. thoroughly knowing and understanding your customer will help you give a focused serviced to that customer. Sounds impossible to know all customers and treat them uniquely? The key is not to compare your customers to one ideal customer that comes along ones in a century. Every customer that steps into your facility is as unique as your thumbprints and another opportunity to learn about another type of customer, besides the good, the bad and the ugly. Successful entrepreneurs know with exactness the wants, wishes and buying behaviors of specific individuals.
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