Know Your Customers

HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS? It’s a tough question.  One way your business can find answers is to examine research in social psychology.  Below are 10 such studies that reveal things your customers WISH you knew about them.

1  CUSTOMERS VALUE QUALITY SERVICE MORE THAN FAST SERVICE

Recent studies show that customers who receive competent, personalized, and all encompassing services are more likely to remember their experience and refer their friends.  Additionally, customers cited “rude, incompetent and rushed” service as their #1 reason to abandon a brand 18% more often than “slow” service.

2 CUSTOMERS LOVE PERSONALIZATION, THEY WILL GLADLY PAY MORE FOR IT

In a study from the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, researchers increased the average tips that waiters received by over 23% without changing service quality.

The waiters who brought out mints along with the check and did not mention the mints received an extra 3%, and waiters who brought out mints separate from the check and mentioned the mints received an increase of 14% in tips.  Waiters who brought out mints with the check, but followed up with a second set of mints and mentioned that they were brought out in case the table wanted more, found an increase of 21% more in tips.  The waiters with the largest increase in their tips offered a more individualized and personalized service for their customers.

3 CUSTOMERS WILL REMEMBER YOU IF YOU CAN REMEMBER THEIR NAME

Speaking of personalization, according to recent research examining brain activation, few sounds are as pleasant as hearing our own names.  It is a known fact that people are more attentive (and interested) when they hear their names; be sure your small business takes advantage of getting to know your customers by using their names when appropriate.

4 THERE ARE FEW THINGS CUSTOMERS TALK ABOUT MORE THAN A PLEASANT SURPRISE

One of the most lasting (and talked about) customer experiences is a pleasant surprise.  Reciprocity, especially when it’s unexpected, is a very powerful force.  Zappos recognizes this and regularly upgrades customers to overnight shipping free of charge, just to brighten their day.

5 GOODWILL WITH CUSTOMERS DOESN’T NEED TO BE EXPENSIVE

The concept of “Frugal WOWs” is important to small businesses: creating goodwill with customers has proven to be more about the act rather than the cost.

Nate Ru, founder of Sweetgreen restaurants, regularly has his employees leave small gifts next to cars with parking tickets to create a memorable brand based on random acts of kindness.

6 CUSTOMERS WILL STICK WITH YOUR LOYALTY PROGRAMS IF YOU GET THEM STARTED

Research has revealed what makes a loyalty program “stick” across all industries.   In a business that offered extra benefits for its loyal customers, researchers were able to show that customers were TWICE as likely to stay with the loyalty program.

 7 CUSTOMERS LOVE BRAND STORIES AND SELLING THROUGH STORIES IS EFFECTIVE

Research reveals that a well told story is one of the most persuasive forms of writing (or speaking) available.

They concluded that this is because stories have the ability to transport us to another place, allowing brands to convey powerful (and lasting) messages to customers.  If your customers know how you began and how you have grown, this creates an inspiration for them.  Consider the story of how NIKE began when Phil Knight began selling shoes out of the trunk of their car, and the rest is history.

8 IF YOU’RE STRUGGLING TO INNOVATE, YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE A GREAT RESOURCE

MIT conducted a study with the Institute of Management Sciences on the relationship of “lead users” (superstar customers) and company innovation.

Through a study of 1,193 commercially successful innovations across 9 industries, 60% came from customers.

9 SELLING “TIME” OVER MONEY HELPS CUSTOMERS SEE THE VALUE OF YOUR BRAND

There’s a reason that inexpensive beer companies promote having a good time (i.e., It’s Miller Time!”) rather than their low prices.

New research from Standford reveals that customers have more favorable feelings towards brands they associate with “time well spent”.  Memories of good times were more powerful than memories of great savings.

10 IF YOU BRING UP MONEY, IT MAKES CUSTOMERS MORE SELF-CENTERED

Research  has shown that when people are “primed” with images of money, they become more self-interested and more skeptical about what you are offering.

This reaction can be harmful to small businesses sales.  Keep in mind, the customer’s wants are more important than the cost!