The Questions-Based Approach for Understanding Customers

Posted by Webmaster - April 26, 2012 - Blog - No Comments

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you understand your customers or know what they want before you ask. Many of the world’s most successful companies get it wrong because they fail to ask.

When Oreo cookies went to China, they just assumed that everyone would like Oreos. After all, it’s one of the best-selling cookies of all time both in the United States and Europe.

They never thought to ask their customers what they wanted.

The launch in China wasn’t a total dud, but it wasn’t much of a success either. It wasn’t until they started asking questions that they understood that Oreos were a foreign concept to the Chinese.

Dipping cookies in milk wasn’t part of their tradition. They found Oreos too sweet and wanted a slightly more Oriental, mildly bitter taste. Even the round shape wasn’t quite hitting home.

After asking many questions, Oreos was relaunched in a rectangular shape, with a slightly different taste and a different color, all tailored based on the answers to questions they asked. The cookie was a rock star success.

This is an extremely common scenario in business. The business owner assumes that what they care about is what the customer cares about. They assume they know what the customer wants, because they’ve been in the industry for a long time. This often ends up costing them a lot of money.

The bottom line is, the best and only way to really know what your customers want is to ask.

==> What Questions Should You Ask?

What kinds of questions should you ask your customers?

Every question you ask needs to stem from one core question: “What do you want?”

The goal is to find out what your customers truly, deeply want. To find a need that, if you fulfill it, will not only get people to buy, but get people to be ecstatically happy about you and your brand.

Here are a few questions you might want to ask your customers:

* What’s an unsolved problem you have in X area of your life?
* Why aren’t other products satisfying that need?
* What can we do better?
* If you could magically create any product in the world to help solve your problems, what would that product be?
* What do you want more than anything else?

Don’t just approach these questions as a one-size-fits-all kind of survey. Instead, have conversations with people in your target market and really try to get in their heads. Figure out what they really want.

Don’t assume you know what your customers want. Ask, ask, ask. Assumptions about what your customers want can cost you a lot of money, whether you’re a Fortune 100 company or a start-up on your first day of business.