Finding Out How Your Customers Think

Build client empathy through a cycle of interactions.


If you want to build lasting, meaningful relationships with those you care about, it’s important to pay attention to the other person’s needs. The same holds true in business. To win repeat buyers and build brand loyalty, business owners must anticipate customers’ practical and emotional desires, and respond to them.

That means seeking out as many points of contact as possible to really understand your customers’ buying behavior.

“Think about the journey as a cycle of interactions,” says David Saef, executive vice president of strategy & MarketWorks for Global Experience Specialists, Inc., a global event marketing company. “The more often you talk to and observe your customers, the greater your capacity for truly understanding their concerns.”

Any business, no matter the size, can take its client relationships to the next level. Saef provides a five-step strategy to learn what drives your consumers’ buying behavior.

Step One: Find out where your customers congregate. You might find groups of clients in online spaces such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. Or, if your customers have a professional space or common hobby, you can join them in real life. Wherever it is they meet, you want to be there, interacting in an organic manner. “Where are they gathering and talking and how can you participate in that conversation in a relevant and meaningful way?” Saef asks.

Step Two: Observe them in their space. Create an opportunity to watch your customers using your product. “Being in the moment of your product or service is so important,” Saef says. If you have a digital product, you can use analytical tools to see how people are using it. An even better option, if possible, is to physically visit clients in their office to get a better sense of their purchase behavior.

Step Three: Let the customer lead. Design thinking allows you to let the goals of the customer drive your product development. One way to use design thinking is by conducting empathy interviews to gain a better understanding of not just how customers use your product, but how they feel about it. With that information, you gain a better understanding of your customers’ needs. “You need to connect more with the emotional perspective,” Saef says. “It’s about delighting them beyond what they would have expected.” When coming up with questions for an empathy interview, the Institute of Design at Stanford advises entrepreneurs to encourage customers to tell stories and always ask “Why?”

Step Four: Take the conversation on the road. Trade shows and other events are a great space to find and meet existing and potential customers, but it’s not enough to just be a passive participant. “It’s important for small business ownership to take advantage of the full ecosystem of that conference,” says Saef. That means calling people up before you arrive, connecting with them during free time, organizing a focus group for your product and following up after the event to solidify your rapport.

Step Five: Bring the party to you. When you host your own event, you can reap the benefits of a trade show while controlling the entire experience and keeping the focus on your own business. “At your own corporate event you’re creating the circumstances to really provide an immersive customer journey,” Saef says.

Gaining insight into your customers’ buying behavior is a never-ending quest, allowing you to leverage the information you discover to improve your marketing or the products you offer.

With persistence and planning, you can reach your goals of building stronger brand loyalty, lasting customer relationships, and growing the number of repeat customers who keep on buying your products and services.


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Related Topics: Business Growth , Marketing , Lead Generation