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Regardless of the business industry you work in, your customers – or clients, depending on your sector – are your main asset. They are detrimental to the growth and success of your company. While it would seem natural to develop a regular relationship with your customer base, too many entrepreneurs struggle to inject depth into their understanding of the audience. We all know that a customer is a lot more than a person who buys your products or services. But saying you know and understand your customers is a different kettle of fish. More often than not, small business owners can find it difficult to gain a picture that isn’t two-dimensional of who their audience is. Nobody likes to be generalized to a cliché. However, we’ve seen countless brands that are simplified their customers’ needs and interests to absurd results. One of the most famous examples is Bic launching a pen entirely for the female members of their target group: A small, pink pen. Aside from being ridiculous, it also highlights the need for in-depth analysis and interactions with your customers to get to the bottom of what they really need.

What do you know about them?

The first question you want to ask yourself is whether you’ve given yourself the best chance to get to know your customers. Every company collects customer data, using Google Analytics or even your social media analytic tools. But very few try to put all the information together to design an accurate and personalized persona chart. Specific customer personas tend to involve demographic factors, interests, professional situation, family status, and of course, their main concern or reason for choosing – needing – your products. Successful brands tend to have a catalog of personas, each identifying microtrends within their audience groups. You need to be able to create a similar file that helps you to understand why young, single women under 30 are more interested in a specific type of products, while mothers would prefer another product. It gives you the key to tailor your messages and make everyone feel as if you were talking just to them.

Do you get to meet them in person?

Never miss an opportunity to meet people. Depending on your sector, trade shows and network events might be the best solution. Getting quality time behind the screen to nurture face-to-face interactions is a game changer, for both your business processes and your customers. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how witty your emails are, nothing replaces human warmth. When you meet people, you can create a closer bond, using eye contact, your voice, and your gestures. It also lets you give a face to your customers and helps you to put their issues into perspectives.

Many touchpoints for only one individual

Do you remember the days when Facebook didn’t exist and websites were slow and looked like a page out of word processor? These might be long gone, but too many businesses have failed to embrace the diversity of the digital sphere. A user who receives an attractive offer per email might be tempted to visit your website and check on your brand. During their research, they might come across a question which they ask you directly on Twitter. As far as your marketing team is concerned, it might look like 3 separate users. However, if you don’t use cross channel communication strategies to connect the dots, you’ll struggle to make sense of digital interactions. Embracing digital diversity also enables you to design campaigns that can connect with individual users across multiple channels.

Listen when they are unhappy

How do you deal with a client who isn’t happy with your services? More often than not, it might be tempting to ignore them. After all, do they know what they’re talking about? It’s fair to say that your audience may not always provide helpful or meaningful feedback. However, bad feedback shouldn’t be ignored. They reveal a lot about your customers’ expectations and requirements, once you can translate them. It’s important as well to use feedback as a background for engagement, getting more familiar with your customers’ way of thinking.

Go beyond the provider’s angle. Create trust

Gaining the trust of your customers is vital to your business. However, the real challenge is to learn to trust your customers first. You need to learn how to reciprocate a pattern of trust, each of them being trusted and trusting at the same time. Ensuring your customers have no bad surprise and looking after them when they need support helps your relationship.

If your customer base feels flat and dull, it’s a sign that you don’t pay enough attention to your audience. Collecting data is one thing. But understanding them and interacting effectively lets you build a 360° customer relationship.