Tech providers need constantly learn and adapt. Markets are in a constant state of evolution. Customers don’t stand still either, with changing priorities, personnel, and plans. We operate in a dynamic system.
Making the right choices requires uncovering and processing a variety of inputs and ideas. This ends up being a lot like the technology buying cycle. You research and interact with a variety of sources–your own teams, your research, influencers. And, of course, customers.
And while efforts to capture the “customer voice” have long been in place, they are often focused on service or understanding how the customer feels about you.
To change, you need to ask and observe your customers in new ways. To learn about them. Yes, ultimately this is about helping you improve, but the angle is helping you improve the way you sell and market.
Here’s a sample list of things you can ask your customers (btw, if you have a customer community–for service or advocacy–this can be really easy, but it’s not that hard without one):
- Where do you go looking for information?
- What influencers do you trust? Which ones don’t you trust as highly?
- How hard is it to find information you need on our Web site?
- What do you think of our new collateral?
- What steps do you follow to make a purchase?
- When do you start preparing the business case to justify extending a subscription service?
- What slows down your buying efforts the most?
And the list could go on and on and on.
As with anything, it’s important not to take one input as the answer. The best insights result from looking at a combination of data points, marrying it with your own experience, and choosing the path that makes the most sense for you. (This is the same advice we give to clients about key research documents like MQs—making a decision solely based on an MQ (particularly just the graphic) is not a good idea.)
When you start this effort, don’t expect perfection. Not all customers will be willing to volunteer answers to every question. In some cases, that may be because they don’t know the answers. But, many customers will share this type of information–particularly when cast in the true light that it should be used. That is to help make things easier for them when they are considering buying, renewing, or expanding. Remember, customers have a vested interest in your success.
These are critical insights that are hard to obtain without your customers help. So just ask them, give it a try. I’ll bet you’ll discover some great information–and you’ll be surprised by how willing your customers are to help you.
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