What’s at stake if you choose not to make an effort to really know your customer? I’d argue just about everything at your job rides on this, but a big one is customer retention. If you don’t know your customer, you won’t keep them as a customer. And ultimately, that’s going to cost your company and eventually your job!
In fact, studies show it costs more to find new customers than it does to keep current ones. It’s anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive to seek out new customers than it is to retain the ones you already have. And I don’t know about you, but I’d choose to spend about 25 times less when given the option.
To put real numbers to that, let’s say it costs $1,000 in advertising to bring in a new customer. That’s not cheap, right? Well, in comparison, in this scenario it means it would only cost about $40 to keep a current customer. Talk about a money saver! Focusing on keeping current customers means saving hundreds of dollars—dollars that could be spent on other aspects of your work.
Taking time to know your customer will help you keep them with you long term. It will help with customer retention, which has an overall impact on the finances and future of your brand. When you put in the effort to know your customer well enough to keep them, you’re ultimately putting in effort that will save your business money. And who doesn’t want that?
The brands that do this well? They keep their customers with them for the long haul. Walmart is a great example of this! They started as a big-box superstore, and they could’ve just stayed there. But they saw the needs of their customers evolving, and they made major shifts to keep them. Now, they offer in-house health clinics, a pharmacy, virtual banking, online shopping, drone and driverless car delivery—I mean, I could go on and on. They’re huge in just about any space, and it’s because they adapted to offer new things to keep their current customers happy.
The brands that don’t do this? They get left behind. They become a brand of the past.
When was the last time you logged into your MySpace profile? Or found yourself shopping at Sears? Some of you probably don’t even know what those brands are! Well, that’s exactly my point! Those companies didn’t last in the long run because they didn’t put in the effort to keep the customers they had. Now, they’re inconsequential or nonexistent.
That means the brands we represent have a lot to lose. If we aren’t taking the initiative to know our customers so well that we’re able to retain them overtime, we run the risk of losing them. Another brand will come in who does know those customers, and that brand will eventually take our place.
If we don’t know our customers, another brand will.
So, we have to commit to doing our part to make the customer experience the best it can be, and knowing your customers will help you do this.
How To Know Your Customer
Here’s the best part of this for you: You’re in the best position to make this happen at your company! You’re on the frontlines. You have the most intimate, up-close experiences with your customers on a regular basis. And that means you know the customer better than anybody else. So, you can lead the way on this at work. You can be the one who chooses to learn what’s important to them, to act on what matters to them, and to make an effort to deliver what they value consistently so they keep coming back.
How do you begin? Well, I think there are four things you have to know!
Know What The Customer Needs
Your customer’s needs are going to be your top drivers for their overall satisfaction. If you’re delivering on your customer’s needs, they’re going to be satisfied with their experience. And like we said before, if you’re anticipating those needs, they’re going to be even happier!
So, what does your customer need from you? Well, in today’s day and age, they need things like speed, efficiency, and convenience. They need to have their lives improved or made easier because of your brand. They need to be seen, heard, and recognized as a valuable part of your company. They need to be the hero of the story!
You know the benefit of this firsthand. Because like me, you’re a customer, too! You make choices all the time about which brands will get your business and retain your loyalty. You know just as well as I do the benefits that come from knowing your customer.
One of the biggest is the ability to see and anticipate their needs.
Have you ever been to a Buc-ee’s? While they have been around since 1982, I only recently became aware of the company when I visited one of their locations myself. Of course, I’d heard all the hype.
More gas pumps than you can imagine! They have the cleanest bathrooms! It’s an experience!
My friends, let me just confirm that everything you’ve heard is true. The hype is real!
When I pulled off the interstate and into the parking lot of Buc-ee’s for the first time, I noticed a few things right away. First of all, there was a sign leading you off the interstate and to the store that said, “You have to pee it to believe it.” I’m just going to let that advertisement have a moment. It’s just that good! And while it certainly caught my attention as a consumer, it really caught my attention as someone who loves when organizations know their customers! What customer on a road trip doesn’t want the promise of a clean restroom?
With that, there were signs everywhere that tractor-trailer trucks weren’t allowed to park and take up space, making it more approachable for customers who want to stop in from the road. There were special areas for pets to relieve themselves and bags for owners to clean up after them right away. Even as I pulled up to the gas pump, I saw an employee walking around the pumps cleaning up trash, changing out the bags, and even wiping down the outside of the trash cans.
And you guys, it only got better inside! Road-weary customers were genuinely excited to be there. There was a buzz as people selected their snacks, found their drinks, and stopped to take pictures with the life-sized Buc-ee’s character walking around to greet everyone. As I walked to the bathroom, I heard two women admiring a piece of art (yes, Buc-ee’s also sells art), saying “That would be perfect for your baby’s nursery!”
I mean, what in the world? Most gas station bathroom experiences include touching as little as possible, breathing as little as possible, and going as quickly as possible. But at Buc-ee’s, everything about the experience was meant to be clean, fun, and different. And friends, they delivered on all fronts.
I think that’s because their founders know what their customers want. And when they pull off the interstate to take a bathroom break, fill up their tanks, and grab a snack, the team at Buc-ee’s is giving them exactly what they’re looking for. They know their customer so well, they anticipated those needs and created a space to meet them. Because of that, they’ve become a brand I can’t imagine my life without!
That’s what knowing a need can do! It allows you to step in and give your customer something they really want—maybe even something they don’t even know they want. Knowing those needs is your first step! It’s the lowest common denominator of the customer experience. When you make an effort to know and even anticipate the needs, you’re doing the first thing you need to do to really know your customers.