Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to question a handful of a client’s customers at length for a buyer persona research project. While every call was different, each one was a reminder of how many unique layers customers have.
I spoke to a handful of Happy Customers who were very satisfied with their experience and situation. They showered our client with well-earned appreciation and several offered suggestions for changes they’d like to see made by our client. I also reached out to Potential Customers, many of whom I found out viewed our client favorably but the timing for further interactions was not yet right.
I keep coming back to one market research call with a Potential Customer — one who may or may not become a customer in the long run. It turns out she’d had a handful of successful interactions over years with our client but just couldn’t seem to get across the threshold. As the interview went on I learned how she found out about our client, her impression of them and their service, and how she believed they could satisfy her future living needs. It was puzzling that after years this union had not come to fruition.
Then she explained why her interactions with our client had stalled. Her oldest child had been diagnosed with cancer and had battled the aggressive disease for the past two years. I could hear the pain in her voice as she told me the words no mother ever wants to say — that her child’s life had ended earlier in the spring.
Her words were a stark reminder to me about customers. With highly targeted CRM operations and our own well-defined advertising objectives and measures, it can be very easy to focus on the layer of a person’s life that directly involves us — or our message — so much so that we forget how much the other layers color the space we’re working in.
Taking the time to speak to not just customers, but people who have interacted maybe only once (or seemingly not at all) with your company can tell you so much about the market in which you’re working. It can also remind you of the many factors beyond competition that can come between you and potential customers.