One of the best ways to deeply understand your customers is to watch and listen to them whenever you can. Observation and listening are powerful but often underutilised tools of the marketer.
It is, therefore, disappointing that so many companies race to conduct market research, usually a qualitative study, as a first step to improved customer understanding. They then (hopefully) invite relevant employees from marketing, sales, packaging, communications or R&D to participate. However, this intense but short-lived observation is likely to do more harm than good. Let me explain.
Have you ever gone to watch a focus group only to discover that the research confirms your hypotheses? You are then irritated that you “wasted” money on the project aren’t you?
Maybe you did. But I think it was more a case of selective listening and interpretation on your part. You watched and listened only to the sections of the discussion that interested you the most. You were looking for confirmation of your hypothesis. It’s a pity because there was so much more you could have understood if only you knew how to listen and watch better.
True understanding comes from regular interaction with your customers, not just from an annual observation or two. So to help, here are a few ideas on how to become an expert at listening and observation:
Make customer observation everyone’s job
There is a wealth of opportunities for every employee in a company to come into contact with the customer. But most employees don’t make use of them.
In a customer-centric organisation, everyone has annual objectives which include connecting with customers on a regular basis. This could be by listening to calls at the care centre, reading blogs and message boards, or participating in / watching promotions, demonstrations, sampling or market research.
Some organisations also make a habit of getting their employees to watch and listen to their customers in direct observation or connection sessions. However, this needs to be managed carefully in order to avoid people jumping too quickly to incorrect conclusions, as detailed below.
Observation is not as easy as it looks
There is a very well-known example of the challenge of observation, in a video showing two teams of young people passing a couple of balls around. If you haven’t seen it, you can check out the Awareness Test and try it for yourself.
In the exercise, people are asked to count the number of passes made by the team in white, so that is what the observer will concentrate on. In the background a man dressed as a bear, moon-walks his way across the screen, but most people are oblivious to the fact. They are so busy looking for the answer to the question, that they miss this significant event in the short video.
The same can happen when people observe and listen to customers. They are so concentrated on finding the answer to their questions, or worse the substantiation of their own beliefs, that they miss a lot of what is actually going on.
If they listen Go to the full article.
Source:: Business 2 Community