Blackboard and chalk
When I was thinking about opening an online retailer, my first thought was about the product to sell, but my second thought was about the potential customers. Questions such as would pop into my mind “what gender?” “what age?” “city vs rural?” “professional or entrepreneurs?” a long list of questions that would not let me sleep easily at night because you can have the best product in the world, but if there is no demand, or you do not target the correct customer, you will not generate any interest towards your offering. That is where I got stuck! Do I know my customer or the segment that I want to target? Where will I find them? On which platform should I sell my products and position my brand? As a start-up entrepreneur, you need to know how to do a bit of everything, but getting to know your customers is something you need to master; if not, it can hurt and show directly in the venture’s bottom line.
I did everything by the book. I ran some surveys between friends and family, a online surveys, mainly trying to profile the potential customer, with questions such as “ gender”, “ age”, “ location”, or “personal interests”. I did it all, and the traffic to the www.mybamboostory.com website increased noticeably, we were getting a top ranking in terms of visitors, and sales started to come in, slowly but surely and in continuous positive trends. And here is where I am just now. How do I take it to the next level? How do I turn the visitors into paying and recurrent customers?
So I have decided to go back to the blackboard and analyse the customers who have come to the shop. I want to understand why they came and what they were looking for, what was the search about, or if the website’s language could be more self-explanatory, more direct to the benefits of the product and less focus on descriptions. Especially in the online world, anyone can be on the other side of your web page; you will never get to know or see or talk to your customer. However, they are genuine customers looking for a solution to their problem, which is the product that I am selling. I feel that the cycle of continuous customer profiling will go on forever and probably will never end. I would not be surprised if the initial potential customer segment I thought I would be addressing would have changed completely one year down the road.
Talk to customer, talk when they live you a message or a chat, talk by email and assess how they behave while browsing will also help to understand them better. I would add to the mix to fix all the technical bugs you may have on your website. What may seem a minor fix for you is definitely a turnoff point for a customer. We are all swamped, have no time to waste, and slight delays in the system will not engage with customers positively. They will turn away. Assessing customer experience would be another point that I would bring to the blackboard.
Do I believe I will ever own the customer knowledge? Will I ever know who my customer is? Not really. I have learned that I need to hold a blackboard and chalk and run quarterly surveys to understand the online customer better; it would be the best way to convert visitors into customers and have them find what they need. They change, the world changes, the product changes, and your offering changes, the communication style changes. The best thing you can do to your business is to consider all your customers always new customers and consider it a daily starting point. Let me know your thoughts.