• Steve Junion, Ph.D.

Knowing Your Consumers

Knowing your consumers is not a one-time event. Rather, it is an ongoing slog of building relationships, seeking feedback, incorporating feedback into a work plan, and repeating these steps through many iterations.

So where do you start?

Simple. It doesn’t matter; you just have to start. Starting anywhere will force you to learn because you have begun the process. Learning means you will iterate on what you are asking/doing because it won't be right from the start. It never entirely works like you planned, although you can minimize challenges by co-creating and collaborate with your consumers on whatever it is you intend to ask and how you mean to ask.

I recently went through a gauntlet of a survey that lasted about 10 minutes as I am part of a customer panel. The survey was more interactive and creative than any I have experienced except one section. I looked forward to each question, especially the infamous 'insert comments here' box. I pushed through the slight painfulness of the survey, not because of the potential for a $10 gift certificate, but because I WANTED the organization to know my opinion. They made me care and feel valued enough that I was willing to share more deeply than I do in most surveys. I enjoyed it because of the interactive nature of the design as well as the thoughtful questions. I also have to admit the email arrived at a good time! I had the time, and from the email, felt like they wanted to 'know me' better.

What are you going to do today to have your consumers ‘want’ to provide their feedback? As a consumer, it is easier NOT to respond when the experience is average compared to when it is on the edges - brilliant or horrid. What are you going to do to consistently try to ‘know’ your consumers outside or in addition to those extremes? How can you set it up so they can inform your next steps through the insights you gather? How will you do it? How will you make it easy? Will you do it within 24 hours? Will it be a survey, a happy-or-not device, an in-home interview, a test of a new platform or system? Why aren't you doing it today, now?

So. Many. Questions!

What matters most is that you do ‘it.’ Do something every day to get to know your consumers. Small or big, it doesn't matter. You will learn. The consumer will teach you. You will fail, and you will get back up. Sometimes, when we have established enough credibility, a hand up will come from that loyal consumer that doesn't want you to fail.

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