How to Figure Out What Clients Really Want
You’re not a mind reader, and you shouldn’t want to be. There are waaaaay too many ethical concerns with mind reading. I can understand wanting to be a mind reader, though – that way, you’d always know what the people around you really wanted.
*Reading Lorelai’s mind would give you enough of a second-hand caffeine high to last a week
Now, most people are very honest, and they’ll tell you what they want if you ask them. We’re going to look at the ways you can ask your clients what they want, and the ways you can find out what they want even if they’re not sure themselves.
Before we get into all of that good stuff, though, I want to remind you that there are some people whose minds you would never want to read (and I’ll leave it to your imagination to fill in those blanks).
With that in mind, we come to our first exciting topic of the day…
Find out what clients YOU really want
Imagine this: a customer walks into your business, late for their appointment. Then during their appointment, they complain constantly, ask you to re-do work once you’ve done it, take up far more than their allotted time, then use coupons they’ve saved over years to reduce their bill by 60%. They go home, leave a 1-star review on Google, and go about their lives.
Do you care what this customer really wants? Is this the kind of customer you’re trying to attract to your business? Obviously not. We’re not going to focus on this person – we’re going to find the clients you actually want.
To do this, you’re going to create customer personas. The simplest way of going about this is to go through your customer list. Sort customers by demographic data, average spend, frequency of visits, and other relevant factors.
Once you’ve got your data sorted, try to align it in meaningful ways that make sense to you. A hair salon, for example, might have a customer persona they call Terri Trendsetter. They’re a millennial professional who comes into the salon on a monthly(ish) basis. They’re willing to spend more than your average person on trying new styles and extras like coloring. They love the salon, and tell all of their friends about it. They’re an ideal customer because they’re:
- Loyal to the salon
- A frequent visitor
- Willing to spend extra for the best look
- Growing your business through word of mouth
Personas like Terri are the kind of people you want to serve best. You can (and should) take the time to find out what other customers want, and you should have multiple customer personas. Focus your efforts on your best customers, though, and you might find your efforts bear more fruits.
Talk to Them
The easiest way to find out what your clients want is…well, to ask them! They’ll tell you what they want (what they really, really want).
Now, I know that can be difficult for a lot of people. For some reason, we can talk to our clients about their day, and, in many cases, their relationships, careers, ambitions, goals, and dreams – but not about how we can serve them better. Maybe it seems too sales pitchy. Maybe you don’t want to make it all about you. Sound familiar?
If it does, don’t worry. We’ve all been there. Here’s the most important thing to remember: your clients want the best service from you. They want to help you serve them better. The best way to start is with regulars – people you already know and trust, people who probably fall under the category of your “best” persona.
Want to do something a bit wild to learn from your customers and celebrate them? Pick some of your best/favorite customers from your list and throw them a party. Seriously – who doesn’t like parties (even if they have to happen over Zoom)? Tell them the purpose of the party is to learn from them about how you can improve your business. Get cake. Go wild. You and your customers will enjoy it and benefit immensely.
Another great way of learning what your customers want is by sending them surveys. There are several survey creation products available online; SurveyMonkey gives a nice free trial, but like most survey software, you’ll have to pay to get all the best benefits. Nonetheless, it can be very worth the cost.
Taking a survey is all about keeping things neutral. Obviously, you might want your customers to say “Your business is the best! No changes needed!” – but that’s actually not very helpful. Realistically, you want feedback about what you could improve, so you need your survey to have:
- Neutral options (Extremely good to extremely bad, and everything in between, as options)
- A variety of different questions
- Questions that don’t need to be answered
- A feedback section
- Multiple choice/yes or no questions
One of the main advantages to surveys is that people can be a bit more honest in them – they might be willing to say things in the survey that they wouldn’t say to you in person. That’s why it’s very important to keep your survey anonymous – you can get demographic information, but don’t gather information that would allow you to identify the customer.
Something to keep in mind: surveys are dryyyyyyyy for most people (I love taking them, but hey), so you might want to spice things up. Think about running a contest – by submitting a survey, you’re entered to win some kind of prize! You can still keep things anonymous by simply recording the names of the people who complete the survey, without associating their names with survey data.
Do Market Research
We’re not going to go too deeply into how to do market research – you’ve probably already done some (at the onset of your business), and, to be frank, it’s a bit on the dry side. Basically, Google and public libraries are your friends.
What kind of research should you do? Look up trends in your business, trends in your target demographic – whatever springs to mind. This can help you identify things that your customers might want in the future – it’s like having psychic powers!
Basically, with good market research, you can know what your customer wants before they do. You’ll be able to predict trends and hop on them, so you’ll be ready for what your customer needs. It’s like magic, and you’ll be like magic to them.
Now, market research is not a one-and-done affair. You care about your clients and you’re passionate about your business, so you’re probably doing market research every day! Holistic health practitioners will be in the know about CBD trends. It’s not surprising to see a tattoo artist scrolling through Instagram, looking at cool tattoos. And barbers? They, like the rest of us, are wondering whether or not Guy Fieri’s resurgence in popularity is going to bring frosted tips back.
*Note: Most barbers are probably NOT, in fact, looking to Guy for styling tips
All of these things are market research.
Encourage Reviews and Feedback
Okay, obviously we all want 5-star reviews. Those reviews don’t leave a lot of room for growth, though, do they?
Now, I’m not saying you should go out of your way to get worse reviews – that would be a very bad idea. Instead, encourage everyone to give reviews. By doing so, you open the door to all kinds of useful feedback – you’ll know what your customers love about your business, and what you can improve.
You can get automated review software if you want, but you can also just ask people to leave reviews when they leave your business. The software tends to do better in terms of volume (and some other features), but it also costs money, so it depends on how much you want to spend.
You should also encourage feedback, even if it’s not in review form. Have a feedback section on your Contact Us page! People loooove giving their opinions (solicited or not). You can even encourage your clients to give you feedback over social media – not in post form, but through direct messages.
Testing New Services
Variety of the spice of life, and as anyone who loves to cook knows, experimenting with spices can bring bold new twists to your cooking.
That’s a philosophy you can take to your business. There are always new trends and ideas coming to the fore. You don’t have to revamp all of your services every time something interesting comes along. Instead, opt to integrate new offerings with your existing services, and engage in trial runs.
A massage clinic might offer CBD oil massages for a limited time, or to it’s best customers. A spa might offer a combo deal that includes a new aqua-therapy service they’re trying out at a discounted rate.
You can test all kinds of things – memberships, bundle deals, discounted pricing for certain groups, 2-for-1 deals, and a whole lot more. Couple that with all the different products and services you can experiment with, and you’ll see there are a lot of ways to test what your customers are looking for.
Bringing it All Together
We’ve gone over a lot of information here, and it has all been about gathering information. You might think that putting this together is a no-brainer – you figure out what your clients want, and you implement it! Obviously, though, it’s going to be a little bit more work than that.
We can’t give our clients everything they want. Sometimes they think they want a certain thing, but they’ll change their minds almost immediately, riding the wave of trends. Sometimes you really would like to give your clients what they want, but the cost of it outweighs the benefits.
I’m going over all of this information right now because people can have a tendency to get, well, a bit of tunnel vision. We want to serve our customers – give them the best possible experience. Not just to grow our business, but to delight them – if you don’t love people, you’re probably not in the business of client service, and you won’t care about what they want. That all said, it’s still very important to trust your instincts.
So once you’ve gathered all of this data, take an honest look at your business, your customers, and yourself. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t implement it, or do it in teeny-tiny baby steps – almost like you’re multivariate testing your own feelings on the thing you’re implementing. Make sure you’re as on board for any changes as your customers are.