The meaning that your customers have about you and your offering is crucial to surviving these difficult times. Branding is the management of meaning. To send off the right signals, to create the right solutions and to design the right experiences for customers to enjoy - so that they attach the right meaning to you.
With this in mind, it's so important to understand your customers. In the current Corona climate, customers are grappling with new challenges on an ever-changing basis. Their feelings about these challenges and the solutions they are seeking are an opportunity for brands to help create value for their customers. But how do you uncover the insights needed to make breakthroughs? How do we keep relevant? The answer: Ask the right questions!
Photo by Ben Collins on Unsplash
I am a huge advocate of leaders speaking directly with customers to ensure their finger is on the pulse of customer needs. Setting up one to one discussions with real customers is such a simple thing but few make time for it. I’ve been privileged to be running quite a few of these sessions at the moment on behalf of my clients and they always yield massive value.
Below are my top ten questions that brand leaders should ask their customers in times of crisis and change. The answers to these can lead to innovations and ideas that generate solutions in your customer experience so that your brand not only survives but thrives. Obviously, these are generic and may not be suitable in every circumstance but they can easily be adapted in order to suit most situations. They are designed to be conversation starters. Following the initial ten questions are a number of follow up questions you might want to employ to deepen your appreciation and empathy for customers.
Top ten customer questions to ask in a time of change
So here they are - see what you think:
What are specific issues, concerns, or problems you’re personally facing at the moment in relation to [category] Uncovering a problem or challenge that you might be able to take away is a crucial part of creating value.
Why is this a problem for you and whats the impact having on you? Digging into the context and impact of a problem helps to assess the value there might be in solving it.
What are you doing right now to overcome this challenge? Finding out what people are naturally doing can lead to better communications around better solutions for them or inspiration about how you can create new solutions in line with their existing behaviours
If you could wave a magic wand and create a solution to this problem what would it be? Sometimes customers will tell you the answer. You just have to listen!
If we could make that happen how much, if anything might you be willing to pay for it? Here we are looking to uncover if there is a commercial opportunity for the solution.
If we could make that happen how would you suggest we get other people to support this idea? This question can yield communication opportunities that might otherwise remain undiscovered
Have you faced this problem in any other area of your life/working experience? If so what solutions have worked there? Helping to unearth familiar similar solutions is a great way to see how easily a solution in your space might land.
Where do you go to find out about what other people in your situation are doing? This can become a rich source of further research and potentially a place to engage with new customers.
Are there any missing pieces of information in relation to [category] that you could describe for me? This helps you to assess if your current content strategy is relevant to the customer.
Are you seeing any trends which could mean this doesn't become a problem to you in the future? This question opens the conversation out into longer-term ideas which could be threats or opportunities for the brand.
Final end question:
Is there anything else you want to add to the conversation that you think would be helpful for us to know? Ending on an open question like this can allow for participants to share something valuable that's on their mind but didn't come up in the previous specific questions.
Eight follow up questions
The above are just conversation starters. It's important to follow up answers with further questions in order to reach the insights that make a difference. Here are some follow-up questions to open up the subject and get to the nuggets of information that matter:
Why do you feel that way?
What makes you say that?
Would you agree that [clarifying point]?
Could you think of any other situations where this would also be relevant?
What does that mean for you?
Why does that matter?
How could that change in the future?
How does that make you feel?
Making your answers into insights and insights into ideas
The answers to the above questions will not usually yield a high-value solution (although sometimes they can). Typically though you will need to take them off and develop them into insights which become the basis for creativity and innovation.
Insights are previously undefined truths. They are summaries of the essential elements which are contributing to the customer's current opinion. they are penetrating observations grounded in customer feedback. They are discoveries that often lie just underneath the surface of a customer answers.
It's important that you take the answers you obtain and carve out time to sit back and consider the themes, drivers and ideas behind why the customer has said what they have. From these insights, you have the basis of creating initial solutions which you can prototype before reaching out to customers again to get their reactions.
So there we are! Go and have better conversations. Ask the right questions. Glean the information and summerise your findings. Dig into them and see if you can create insights that you can then use to drive new thinking in your business so that you continue to serve your tribe and make them stronger.