One of the biggest downsides to running an online business is that you rarely interface with your customers face-to-face.
On the other hand, people who run brick-and-mortar businesses are constantly talking to their customers and getting feedback from them. The value this customer information provides is quite substantial.
It allows the business owner to continually iterate and tweak their business to improve relationships with customers, increase repeat business, and optimize the in-store experience.
Some may say that being shielded from your customers is a blessing in disguise. Why? Because it forces you to conduct customer surveys and research!
You know: the homework you should be doing.
So what’s this important question?
The most important question to ask your customers is:
Why did you decide to do business with us today?
Ideally, you would ask this question after checkout. If you’re using a tool like Qualaroo, you can trigger a nudge on the order confirmation page (or something similar).
If you run a subscription based business, you can ask why customers decided to sign up for your service. The idea is the same.
Getting real, paying customers to answer this question provides you with incredibly valuable data. The people who actually pull the trigger and decide to pay you money – their rationale for why they decided to do business with you is gold.
There are a few things that’ll get out of this:
1. The Language They Use
The language they use when they say why they decided to do business with you.
There will probably be some benefits they’ll spell out in their own language – which you can use in your marketing materials later on when you market to new customers. Whether it’s AdWords ads, home page copy, or landing page copy.
It’s also worth trying these keywords out in PPC campaigns – try these keywords (their exact language) in Pay-Per-Click ad copy. There is a chance that these type of ads will perform better. They might not have the most search volume, but they will probably convert better.
2. Finding Out Your REAL Value Proposition
Sometimes you think you know why, or you assume you know what the value of your business is to your prospects and customers. Sometimes, when you get this data from your actual paying customers, you’ll know what it really is that they find valuable with your product or service.
This can be a really important insight because it might shape your mindset differently on how you attack your business problems. You might find some growth levers from it. You might position yourself differently. You might need to change your value proposition. You might find more success once you know what your customers really want.
A hypothetical example would be, say, if you were a plumber. And your ad copy read something like:
And after doing 50 jobs and surveying your customers, you find out the reason why they do business with you is NOT because you’re “speedy”, but because you provided a really detailed estimate and they completely understand what they’re getting into.
In this case, you might change your ad to:
And hopefully, after this advertisement shift, “Sam” finds that his/her call-to-job-completion ratio goes up 50%! :).
3. You Might Learn Things About Your Competitors
It could be simple, but repetitive answers like, “You were cheaper than XYZmart.” Or you might find out that your competitors’ messaging or positioning is off (and therefore learn more about your own).
4. You Might Learn About What You’re Lacking
You might find out things you don’t have or offer that your customers want. Be careful, though.
If you try to please every customer, you may deviate from your real focus or the important parts of your value proposition. Always proceed with caution when customers ask for certain products, services or features.
In some cases, they don’t even know what they really want. You might want to use The 5 Whys Method to figure out what your customer is really saying.
Wrapping It Up
Hopefully you’re excited to start collecting this customer data. If you don’t have the functionality in place, sometimes it’s appropriate to email or call customers and interview them. Believe it or not, most people don’t mind being interviewed!
In other cases, it’s acceptable to give discounts or freebies for this info. It can certainly be worth it!