Using Customer Support Conversations To Identify Sales Opportunities
Gathering competitive insights means using customer support conversations to help identify more up-sell, cross-sell, and assortment opportunities to keep you one step ahead of the competition.
The last of our strategy pillars is probably closest to your heart. When you started your company, and built your online store, you fell in love with a product, crafted your brand, and set up your store around both of them — not around customers.
But over time you’ve grown to know those customers better — they’re more demanding and have more choices too. If you can better understand what makes your most loyal customers fall in love with your brand, you can add complementary products, accessories, or even expand your range — knowing that you already have a proven market.
This strategy pillar will help you gain insights from your most loyal customers to inform your choices on the development of your products and its add-ons. We’ll start by taking a look at “personas”.
A segmentation is not the same as a persona. You’ve probably already segmented your market with your marketing expert or team, so you can get your marketing nice and targeted.
But as we know, no matter how well we segment, every customer is unique. That’s reflected in their buying habits. And these can be difficult to predict.
If you have an online fashion store, for example, you’ll know some customers buy expensive designer dresses, others just buy a few accessories. Some stay, some go, never to return. Until they do.
The purpose of personas is to try and understand why people act the way they do. A richer understanding of people’s needs, behaviors, and aspirations will help you better understand why people fall in love with your brand.
There’s loads of advice on how to develop a persona: from hubspot, volusion, imagemedia, and more. But! In the tradition of the myth-busting we covered earlier, we have an alternative thought we’d like to share…
The common approach to personas is to create a fictional character that you use to represent the essence of your most ideal customers.
But we think the best way to approach personas in this case is to create a ‘persona’-type profile of your actual customers — the ones who know you, your product, and your brand best.
Where to start
If you have a full-on customer lifetime value segmentation done by a financial guru, then that would be the best place to start. If you already have a good segmentation, it’s worth identifying two or three personas for each segment.
As you’ve been around a while, we bet you already have close contact with some of your best customers. So you could also start there. Once you have identified your starting point, it’s all about the human conversation.
“By understanding why your customers act the way they do, it becomes easier to understand what they will value.”
Your goal is to gain understanding of why your most loyal customers think and act the way they do. You want to understand the context in which they make purchase decisions, not why they love your brand.
Choose a few customers and create a Word or Excel document in which you can develop a profile about these customers. What they purchase, when, and other information you feel is helpful.
Build these profiles up over time. When you have a good understanding of who each customer is and how well they represent their segment, let it all sink in, and then consider next steps…
Look for commonalities. Trends. Similarities in your most loyal customers. Once you get a feel for why your customers act the way they do, it becomes easier to understand what they value from your company and your store. That should lead to insights which will keep you ahead of the pack.
Focus on your most loyal customers.
In your service interactions find out what they really want, what they really value, why they value it.
Create personas from them; not fictional but real — your most loyal customers.
Use those insights to inform your marketing activities & assortment — being sure you will have a ready-to-buy market.
In addition to gaining insights through service interactions, you can also consider surveying your most loyal customers.
Tailor some survey questions with your brand. Below we’ve come up with 10 suggestions to help you get down to the core of your customer’s behaviors. You can develop any questions which suit you; these are merely meant as inspiration.
What have they bought recently from other stores
What kind of cell phone do they have?
Do they have any cool new apps?
What other brands do they love?
What’s their favorite music?
What’s their favorite film?
Who are their heroes?
What’s their ideal vacation spot?
What is their biggest ambition?
What are their hobbies
Once you have determined the questions which will serve your needs best, compile them in a brief survey, and send that survey out to your most loyal customers.
Who is your rep with the very best soft skills? Ask that person to take the lead in developing personas. Once you know who you will use in your personas setup, there’s a good chance you can answer some of those questions. Have your rep supply you with the results and share them amongst your support team! See who already knows what about whom.
Involve your marketing team. Anything that contributes to better or more detailed segmentation will be welcomed by marketing. Sharing these customer behavioral insights could help inform your marketing communications (such as how you contextualize your products on your site) or even lead to more targeted advertising, PR, or other marketing ideas.