[Opinion Piece] The Difference Between Knowing & Understanding a Customer
The idea of knowing and understanding something might seem similar, reality is though that both these terms have different meanings and need to be viewed as separate concepts. This is especially true in business and franchising in particular, as the distinction between knowing and understanding could mean the difference between simply acquiring and actually retaining a customer. In franchising, where, even though a franchisee buys a fully functioning business concept, its customers can never be guaranteed, which is why The Fish & Chip Co. make it their every effort to not only know who their customers are but actually understand them, as Managing Executive, Jan de Beer shares below.
It goes without saying that a business is nothing without its customers; it is after all built with them in mind. In order for a brand to be truly successful, owners need to go to great lengths to have a clear picture of who they are actually selling to, to ensure what they are doing is really effective. Usually to learn more about their customers, many brands will base their knowledge on customer demographics, which include elements such as race, age, income, educational attainment, employment status, and location. This information usually forms the basis of getting to know the customer to develop a buyer persona and offers some surface level knowledge of who the customer is.
However, a business owner can only truly understand a customer by delving deeper into what the demographics are actually saying about them, this is where psychographics begin to play an important part. Psychographics is about using the demographic information you have for your buyer persona to figure out more about their lifestyle, their behaviors and their habits.
There are a number of questions that business owners need to ask themselves when it comes to understanding their consumer. Some of these include:
- What does my customer value most about my business?
- What can I do to ensure that their needs are met?
- What are their perceptions about my competitors?
- Am I doing enough for my customers to remain top of mind?
Aside from determining the important questions to ask, it is also vital to know which platforms are most effective in collecting the psychographic info that assists in defining your consumer. The recommended platforms include:
In store surveys – Once you have determined what you would like to understand about your customer, surveys are a good method for establishing their psychographics. These surveys work best when conducted within the business, while the customer is in store as they are already a captive audience. In store incentives are often a great way of prompting consumers to share their feedback as they usually want to see that they are benefitting in some way when sharing their info.
Building direct relationships – By being present in the business and actually getting to know the target audience that visits the business or store will help to build relationships. During informal conversations with the customer, the business owner will be able to gain a better understanding of the ‘person’ behind the consumer.
Social media – The social media space might just be the best platform to learn more about your customers, as it provides an opportunity where the customer feels more comfortable to speak honestly and openly – as they are unprovoked and in their own space. To learn more about the customer, ask questions that will encourage them to share their opinions and want to interact.
In a world where change is the only constant, the customer is also constantly changing, making it imperative to keep up with them by not only knowing of them but actually understanding them. Only in doing this will you really be working to retain them.