User research: how well do you know your customers?
We all know that assumptions are dangerous. In spite of this, it’s incredibly tempting to make a raft of assumptions about the customers we communicate with.
This is often because we’re pressed for time. When a message must go today, there’s no time to question whether we know enough about our audience to craft a message that meets their needs. And when we’re caught up in the cycle of managing customer communications, in can be difficult to step back and question the fundamentals of what we’re doing.
User research takes time, but it’s the only way to really test our assumptions and learn more about our customers’ needs and goals. Once we know what customers need, we can create messages that are more likely to be well received. Knowing more about our customers means that we can avoid sending inappropriate messages – or offending our audience.
By researching your own customers, rather than just general consumers, you can gather powerful insights into your customer’s aims, attitudes, goals – and their feelings about your company. You can learn what people like – and what people loathe.
You may be thinking that you’ve already done user research, so you’ve got nothing more to do. But user needs evolve. Customers change. The world turns. Your products evolve. User research should be conducted regularly to ensure that your strategy isn’t built upon outdated findings – or a version of the truth that is longer accurate.
Assuming you’re sold on the idea of customer research, how do you go about it?
Web and email surveys
The easiest – and most affordable – method of surveying your customers is to invite them to complete a questionnaire. This can be provided as an option at the end of an order process, or included in a piece of customer communications. Pop-up windows may annoy your customers, but could be useful as a way to gather feedback (providing you make it easy for customers to decline).
Live user research
Inviting customers to interact with your website or your products is a brilliant way to learn how people experience your creations in the real world. This approach is expensive and laborious, but it yields a huge amount of valuable information about the way people perceive your business. You can literally watch as people navigate your website, respond to your communications and interact with your services, and you can see where they struggle, and where they start swearing. You can also hear the words they use to describe the process, and how they look during the experience.
You can still hear directly from customers, without having to transport them to your lab. Phone interviews are far easier to arrange, and they enable you to involve a wider (and larger) group of participants.
Digging into analytics
All customer research must be taken with a pinch of salt, and the understanding that people may behave differently when being observed. Some things are difficult to admit to, and some people will want to paint a positive picture of themselves and their behaviours. For this reason, any insights gleaned from research should be compared to what the analytics state. Your data on things like opens, page views, bounce rates and conversions may provide an unvarnished version of what your customers really want.
Want to know more about your customer communications?
At DocCentrics, we specialise in digitising your entire customer communications ecosystem, and bringing all your communications into a single platform. While this makes it easier to send engaging communications, it also makes it easier to monitor the impact of your communications. Contact our team to find out how we could help you understand what your customers want from their communications.