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Business growth is the ultimate goal for every entrepreneur. But scaling upward is often easier said than done. If you’re struggling to meet your business goals, you could be overlooking your most valuable resource: your customers.
Whether you sell products or provide a service, customers are the backbone of your business. These individuals have useful feedback that can transform your offerings. You just have to elicit it. Here are some tips for tapping into your customer knowledge base and growing your venture.
1. Keep Your Ears Open
Tapping into your customers as a resource is key to business growth. This starts with truly listening to their wants and needs. Your customers are likely providing feedback through several channels, such as social media and comment cards. By taking this feedback seriously, you will better curate your offerings to satisfy and sell.
Many successful businesses expand their offerings based on consumer feedback. For example, Nurx, a telehealth provider known for its sexual health services like birth control, branched out into migraine and acne treatment at the urging of their patients. To determine which product and service lines will better meet your customers’ needs, you need to encourage them to tell you what those are.
2. Send Out Surveys
While some customers will actively offer you feedback, this isn’t always the case. You’ll likely need to seek out their opinions as well. Surveys are an effective tool for collecting qualitative and quantitative data for your business. You might administer your survey via email, on your website, or even with classic pen and paper in your store.
What do you want to measure with this survey? Consider the metrics that will drive business growth. Find out how satisfied your customers are with your current offerings and where they see room for improvement. Get to know your demographics and where your customers live. You may see opportunities for growth that you never considered, such as opening a location in another town.
Outside of surveys, many business owners find it useful to leave out comment cards or to add a comment box to their websites. These allow customers to provide feedback at any time. Just keep in mind that comment cards may be particularly enticing to disgruntled customers. You’ll need to learn to consider the outliers while focusing on the patterns.
3. Follow Up
Gathering insights from customers isn’t a one-and-done task, especially when you want business growth. Be sure to follow up with customers who have provided feedback.
What this follow-up looks like will depend on the size of your business. If you’re running a large operation, consider emailing your customers after a survey to share the results. This gives them an opportunity to get in touch with additional comments and questions.
Smaller businesses, especially those with brick-and-mortar locations, can talk to customers in person. Telling a customer that you heard their idea and are workshopping it shows that you value your client base.
4. Quantify Feedback
When looking for growth opportunities, customer comments are a valuable resource. However, look for ways to quantify feedback as well. Metrics like conversion rate, customer satisfaction scores, and online user activity provide insight into customer behavior. And customer behavior can show you where there’s room for growth.
For example, say you have an e-commerce site and notice your conversion rate is low. You might start by seeing which products sold the most units and which were most frequently left in abandoned shopping carts. Looking at the numbers will help you fine-tune your inventory and—potentially—increase sales. Those same metrics a month or so later will tell you whether your revamped product mix is producing results.
5. Be Active on Social Media
Your business’s social media channels are prime places for collecting customer insights. Yes, keeping up with comments and direct messages can be overwhelming. But taking some time to read and respond to customers online will aid in business growth. Note how customers respond when you announce a new offering or discontinue a product. These comments can provide valuable direction.
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As a marketing tool, social media can generate leads and boost product sales. So the benefits of interacting with your customers online are two-fold. You can keep them engaged to grow sales, while encouraging a steady stream of feedback about what to sell.
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6. Talk to Your Employees About Business Growth
If your employees are client-facing, they likely have more knowledge about customer needs and wants than you realize. Check in with your employees regularly to learn what they’re hearing on the floor and on the phone.
Is there something specific that customers complain about? Are there certain products that customers would like to see? Look for patterns in these conversations, and make business decisions accordingly.
Your employees may also have their own ideas and feedback that they’d like to share. Creating a culture of open communication helps business owners tap into every possible resource. Your employees and customers are on the ground every day, so their perspectives are valuable.
7. Reassess Your Demographics
Some business owners find it difficult to access their customer bases. But to gain knowledge from your customers, you need to know who they are and where to find them. This is why reassessing your target demographics periodically is a must.
If your target customer is older, you might not get the feedback you’re looking for by sourcing it on Instagram. The same goes for younger generations and email. Use tools like social media and website analytics, surveys, and in-person observations to learn about your customers. You might find that you’re targeting the wrong people and looking for them in the wrong places.
8. Focus on Value to Achieve Business Growth
Remember, business growth is all about creating value for your customers. As you collect feedback, you might notice some customers asking for lower prices. But lowering your prices to meet customer wants won’t drive business growth. Rather than slashing your prices, consider how you can provide more value.
This might involve tweaking the offering slightly or simply marketing it in a different way. Business owners need to constantly innovate to better communicate value to their client base. When you find the right balance between cost and value, your customers will be happy.
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Let Your Customers Guide You Toward Business Growth
Business growth takes time. However, encouraging customers to provide feedback and taking their needs seriously will help you make more informed business decisions. Your customers are there to take the guesswork out of growth initiatives. Access this knowledge early and often to help your business thrive.
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