Running a business can be a challenge, but we can all agree that one of the main goals of your business is to produce happy customers. A majority of customers in your store or restaurant might already be highly satisfied, but issues can still crop up at any time and you might not feel equipped to handle them. So, how can you better prepare your team for those hurdles?
The answer? Learn more about your customers. By recognizing trends and customer behavior, you can actually learn a lot about how to improve your business and create an even better customer experience. Then, when you add customer feedback into the mix, you’ll find yourself with a wealth of knowledge that you can put to good use.
As you continue to build your brand with real-time customer feedback, learning more about your customers can provide other benefits, as well. For instance, you can create stronger brand awareness and increase loyalty among satisfied customers.
Take a look at the following tactics you can use to learn more about the individuals who walk through your door each day:
- Use POS technology.
- Create surveys.
- Use social media.
- Engage customers directly.
Ready to learn more about your customers? Take a look at these awesome strategies and get your business in the best shape it can be!
1. Use Point-Of-Sale system
One of the greatest challenges of learning more about your customers can easily be addressed with the right technology. More than likely, you already have some sort of POS system (or point-of-sale system) that you use at your business. Now think about how you can leverage that system to learn more about the customers you ring up every day.
Here are some ways that having a more robust or intuitive POS system can help:
- It allows you to view and identify trends. Track your inventory and see what items are the most popular. For example, if you’re running a bar, you can see which ingredients are selling well and what’s running low.
- It allows you to better adjust your inventory. Once you’ve determined the trends in your inventory sales, you can act on them. For instance, Lavu’s POS software for restaurants allows you to see what foods are selling out quicker than others, so that you can adjust your orders for the day or week and better meet your inventory demands.
- It allows you to view customer preferences. You can also track customer preferences and payment history. If you already know what your customers’ preferences are, you can better personalize their experience, streamline the check-out process, and encourage them to return for future visits.
Technology is a great resource that can give you new sets of data to analyze. When you know what you’re looking for, you can successfully determine which metrics will be most useful as you improve and refine the customer experience at your business.
Consider going mobile, too. Learn more about iPad POS systems, which can streamline your process and help you gain a better understanding of your customers in real time.
2. Create surveys
One of the most direct ways to learn about your customers is by administering surveys. This can be via email, printed on receipts, or even a small pile of survey cards near your check-out counter. Encouraging your customers to fill out a survey not only shows that you care about their experience, but it also helps give you a direct line of feedback. By utilizing surveys, you can:
- Remove the guesswork. Ask your customers directly what they want, or would have wanted during their visit to your business, and use that feedback to improve your overall customer experience.
- Evaluate your prices and products. Determine if your pricing scheme is just right or too high. Are there other products that customers would like to see in your store? Use this information to reevaluate your inventory and meet customer demand.
- Increase customer loyalty. By incorporating feedback and showing customers that you care about their experience and their opinions, you can increase customer loyalty and reduce your churn rate.
There are several ways to go about soliciting surveys, but it’s best to keep the surveys simple and easy to fill out, as well as conveniently timed. Encourage your customers to take the survey at the bottom of their receipt, but don’t spend too much time pushing it on them. Keeping the conversations natural and demonstrating that you care are enough to encourage customers to provide their feedback.
By directly engaging your customers with surveys about their experience, you can not only receive constructive feedback, but you can also learn what you’re doing right. Positive feedback is always a great confidence boost for your business. By knowing what needs improvement and what’s working well, you’ll find a good balance and keep customer satisfaction at a higher level.
Having trouble figuring out what to put on your customer survey? Here are some tips on what must-have questions you should include in your customer surveys.
3. Use social media
Another way to learn more about your customers involves having a strong presence on social media. After all, customers are online and talking about their experiences every day, so it’s important to monitor this activity, especially where your particular business is concerned.
There are several advantages of engaging with customers on social media and other business review sites. For example, you can:
- Learn what’s working. Let’s say you have a Facebook page for your business, and a customer leaves a positive review on your page. This is great! You know your customer had a positive experience and you can continue to grow based on their feedback and keep up the good work.
- Learn what’s not working. Now, what if a customer tweets at your business’s Twitter handle and brings up a complaint they have? It’s important to monitor comments like these to show that you’re listening and paying attention to what’s not working at your business.
- Resolve issues. Once you receive that negative or constructive feedback, work to resolve the issue. Reach out directly to the customer to apologize, ensure you understand the situation, and cordially offer to resolve it in whatever way seems appropriate. Handling customer complaints can be tricky, so it’s important to stay on top of this.
By monitoring your social media activity, you can help keep your customers engaged, happy, and heard. This is especially important because, in an age where posts can go viral within hours, you want to stay on top of any complaints or other customer issues and make sure you’re addressing them in real-time.
4. Engage customers directly
One of the most effective ways to learn more about your customers is to engage them directly. After all, some of the most challenging aspects of running a business involves acquiring new customers, so it’s especially important that you pay attention to the customers you have; this will also increase the chance that you’ll attract new ones in the process.
If you’re interested in strengthening your acquisition methods, Swoop offers a great breakdown of eCommerce strategies related to this.
With that in mind, remember that even the smallest moments can make or break a customer’s experience at your business, so focus a lot of your attention on your actual interactions with them. For example, you can:
- Show genuine interest. Ask about their day and find a way to genuinely engage with your customers. You might learn something you didn’t know about them, and by keeping up a friendly conversation, you’ll give them a great experience that they’ll be more likely to remember next time.
- Be anticipatory. Beyond showing interest, be proactive. Offer to look for something they have on their shopping list before they ask for help. See if you can anticipate their needs and determine what they’re looking for. This will not only impact their experience but also give you an organic way to learn what customers are searching for in your store.
- Show gratitude. When closing your interaction, be sure to thank your customers. This seems like it could go without saying, but it is often a step overlooked. Thanking your customer in closing shows that you appreciate their patronage and leaves the interaction on a positive note. This is essential to giving customers a reason to come back again.
There are many ways to improve customer experience and retention, but if you remember one thing, know that providing strong customer support goes a very long way to improve customer experience overall. By doing this, you will not only learn more about your customers in a natural way, but you’ll figure out methods to improve your business, too.
When you take advantage of the resources available to you, there’s a lot you can learn about your customers, and in turn, how best to improve their experience and more generally run your business. Whether you incorporate your POS system into the mix, engage with your customers directly or through surveys, or take to social media, there’s a lot you can do.
Try out these tactics and start observing the difference it makes—your customers will thank you!