Think like a Customer

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If you are having a hard time anticipating your customers’ needs and wants, it may be that something is holding you back from ‘getting inside their heads’. In order to deal most effectively (and most profitably) with customers, you need to think like one of them. Here are a few ideas for getting into the mind of your market:

  • Communicate with employees. Your employees are the front line, dealing with customers on a daily basis. They probably can tell you offhand what problems and complaints come up most often. They also see issues firsthand and can think of ways to improve your business or streamline operations. Keeping communication lines open is vital to changing in customer-responsive ways. 
  • Visit your website. You are probably thinking, I already do this! However, we are willing to bet that you aren’t doing it the right way. You need to browse your website like a customer, starting at a landing page and moving through the shopping and buying process. Search for different products and see how easy it is to find what you need. Try this several times with a variety of browsers and you will begin to see what challenges the shopping process might pose for different customers.
  • Deal with your customer service. If you have a customer service team, call them once a week pretending to be a customer with questions. The goal here is not to trick your employees, but to see if they are representing your ecommerce website brand well and offering the help that your customers need. The only way to ensure that this happens is to become your own personal shopper.
  • Join your email list. One way to see how your emails are coming through is to join your own list. Open your emails and peruse them. Are there spelling errors? Proofread better next time. Links that don’t work? Images that don’t come through properly? You need to know what your emails look like and how they can be improved. Unfortunately what you send is not always what customers receive. 
  • Visit the competition. Your customers don’t experience your store in a vacuum; they come with knowledge of your competition. Therefore, it is essential to know exactly what you are up against. Check out other ecommerce websites in your genre. Go through the ordering process (even if you leave at the last moment) and join their mailing lists. This will give you good ideas for improvements to your own business.

In traditional stores, this is called Management By Walking Around. You know how you see managers walking the aisles of most major retail stores, interacting with customers and helping employees? They do this because it is the only way to see what customers see and ensure that employees are delivering a positive shopping experience. Your customers know exactly what they want from your ecommerce website, even if they cannot always communicate it. If they don’t get it in a timely fashion, they leave. You can prevent this by thinking like a customer and experiencing your ecommerce website through a customer’s eyes.