Getting in your customer’s shoes: small business edition.

In Our Customer's ShoesIf you’ve been following Ruby this year, then you know that we’re all about our 2017 theme, In Our Customer’s Shoes. This stylish theme (and I mean custom Ruby shoes stylish) reflects our desire to get to know our customers better than ever. The goal is to be able to anticipate customer needs so we can better meet—and exceed—them.

Getting to know your customers so you can exceed their expectations is an attainable goal for companies of all sizes. The key is to make delighting customers a priority. And this can start small. You don’t have to jump into big gestures—in fact, it’s the smallest moments that are often the most memorable.

Understand Your Market

The first step: knowing your audience. You can’t meet customer expectations unless you understand what they’re expecting.

When you want to learn more about a friend or coworker, how do you about getting to know them? You could Google them. Or maybe reach out to a friend of theirs and ask about them. Or even hire somebody to do the research for you—in extreme cases.

But the best way to get to know someone is by simply asking.

Talk to the people who know your brand or service, current customers, and those who have left your service.

  • What motivates them?
  • Why do they use your service? What would convince them to use it? Why did they leave?
  • What’s most important to them regarding your service? Price, quality, customer experience?
  • What are the benefits that they were looking for when they found your service?

Keep in mind, understanding your market doesn’t have to be a formal process. Just listen to your customers. Find out what they say when talking to your sales team, what keeps people from making a purchase, and what they comment on—positively and negatively—when they’re talking to your support team or canceling services.

The more you know, the easier it’ll be to put yourself in their shoes.

Small Talk Has a Big Impact

Now that you understand your market, it’s time to understand your customers as individuals. You have two timelines to consider.

  1. Short-term connections. This is your opportunity to build rapport using everyday small talk. Listen to what your customers are saying. If they’re calling from LA, you can ask them how they like the city. If you hear a dog in the background, you can ask what breed. Instead of “How are you?” you can ask them if they’re doing anything fun that day. These kinds of positive short-term interactions can make long-lasting positive impressions.
  2. Long-term relationships. Building long-term relationships is easiest when you have a CRM or a small customer pool that allows you to get to know your customers as individuals. As a consumer, nothing feels better than when you feel like you have a personal connection with a business. These kinds of connections can be as small as remembering a tidbit dropped by a client during small talk—like the fact that they love traveling, have a small dog, or have kids. Then bring that tidbit up the next time you talk to them. Personal connections help customers think of your brand fondly. Treating your customers like people is key to building long-term relationships that grow your business.

Even as a small business, if you’re friendly, you can get in your customer’s shoes on a micro level. All you have to do is make an effort to get to know them.

WOW Customers by Exceeding Expectations

Now you know what the expectations are. Next, you have to set internal expectations, then prepare to exceed them.

This idea is best explained in our blog post “WOW Customers by Delivering the Unexpected.”

Use the knowledge you’ve gathered from surveying, listening, and getting in customer’s shoes to delight them with unexpected excellence. Walk yourself through the customer journey, and use your knowledge to figure out how to blow your customers away.

Looking for more advice on putting yourself in your customer’s shoes? Check out some of our Ruby resources!

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