hen you understand your audience, you benefit from improved messaging, effective product/service strategies, a strong brand, and more customers. But often, it’s hard to know what questions to ask customers in the first place. You could ask them straight-up what their top three pain points are, only to find that they aren't sure, or that their issues are unrelated to your product or service.
Asking open-ended questions about top pain points will often result in a myriad of inconsistent answers you can't use in your messaging because they are so broad. The answers might also be too generic. Revenue, sales, efficiency, scalability - all of the terms both you and your competitors are using to try to differentiate each brand in a crowded market.
In our experience, there are only five questions that you need to be asking your customers, and we recommend asking as many as possible. There are a couple of conditions, though.
The first condition is that the customers you ask need to be either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with your product or service. Don’t focus on unhappy customers just yet because they will be unconstructive. You want to get more good customers – not try to change your business to suit unsatisfied ones.
The second condition is that you have to be willing and able to act on the information you receive. There is really no point in gathering this information if you’re not going to use it. You will likely need to change the content on your website, for example, or update your product/service roadmap.
With these conditions in mind, here are the five questions you need to be asking:
- Before you became our customer, what were you using/doing?
- Why wasn’t that working for you anymore?
- What other products/services/solutions did you explore before choosing us?
- Why did you choose us over those other products/services/solutions?
- How can we improve even further?
If you’re not yet sure why these questions are important and what information they will give you, let me explain.
The first and second questions effectively uncover the pain points that your customers – and potential customers – experience that are relevant to your business. By addressing the pain points of your audience, you can educate prospects about solutions to their problem, and that other businesses like theirs no longer experience them.
The third and fourth questions help you to identify your main competitors and your competitive advantage. If you find that your competitive advantage isn't what you want it to be – perhaps you are the cheap alternative – then this information should act as a catalyst to a redesign of your brand, pricing, and service/product quality. If you are happy with the perceived competitive advantage, then that's the key message you need to be using across all of your communications.
The data analysis from the last question should be prioritised for those customers that are "somewhat satisfied" rather than "very satisfied". This is where you will find the quick wins - by improving customer satisfaction and turning those customers into referral opportunities. This information should spearhead your product or service development roadmap.
Finally, once you’ve acted on the data received as per our recommendations, then turn your attention to your unhappy customers. You might find that what you really need is a better strategy to disqualify bad leads and dissuade them from becoming customers. Or, perhaps the information provided could contribute to a groundbreaking new product or service offering if there is enough demand for it.