Making friends with your customers, Part 1 - Dig deep to understand their needs

Andrew S - 2 nd March 2014

I have been working on a couple of brand critical insight programmes recently that have really helped clients evolve their brands so that they not only stay “friends” with their customers but are also deeply empathetic to their needs.

I thought it might be helpful if I shared some of the principles of how we delivered this for the next time you want to listen to your customers.

The truth is always in data

No matter whether you’re looking at big or little data if you look closely enough find clues as to how you can improve the lives of your customers. I know we can’t all afford to develop algorithms that can predict our buying decision before we make it, like the fine people of Amazon, but that is no excuse not to listen to your customers through the data they give us.

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 The front of house know what’s going on before you do

Why are “back to the floor” programmes on TV so interesting? Because they show a boss getting stuck into the sharp end of the business where it meets its customers. If you listen to the feedback they invariably get the front of house team are talking about needing help to deliver the customer experience they need. So get back to the floor and listen to your Directors of First Impressions.

Always dig deepest for insight, don’t just “do research”

Great insights tend to be enshrined in the language of the brand rather than being filed away in the “done” file where most research ends up.  

There are 3 key principles we have developed to consistently deliver those sorts of insights.

  1. Make sure you know what the insight is going to be used for. There is no point discovering great insights if there is not a need that the brand can satisfy
  2. Dig deeper in different places. Don’t just ask the easy questions, get out there and observe behaviours where the brand meets its customers, where it is consumed and how it is talked about amongst friends.
  3. Analyse with rigour. Insights cannot be plucked out of thin air, ensure sure that several people are engaged in the process to add the rigour to each insight identified and to put each one under real pressure and stress testing for it to reveal itself as truth.

So I encourage you all to look at what you know, where else you can explore in order to look at the subject from a different angle and get out of your offices and spend some time on the front line.

But most of all, listen deeply to what you are being told, it is the stuff of competitive advantage

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Andrew is the CEO and the other founding partner of Brand Vista. With over 30 years of brand experience both on the client and agency side, what gets him up every morning is a passion for helping clients grow through building genuinely differentiated brands that deliver a customer experience that becomes irresistible.
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