HSCS-005 – Find a need, fill a need (Pt5, Run your business like Gordon Ramsay)

Last episode we talked about how to discover what your customers really want. Now we’ll talk about transformational change. Plus, I’ll share my recent experience providing feedback as part of a customer advisory panel. Finally, I have a few more online resources to discover networking events near you.

Topic #1 – Give your customers what they really want

Build a babyDuring the last episode (#4), we discussed how to find out what the customers really want.

What will the market bear?
Are you charging too much?
Are you charging too little?

Once you have that directional knowledge, you have to take those learnings and fill a need.

I love the quote in the kids movie “Robots”: “Find a need. Fill a need.”

If there isn’t a good hamburger for miles, be known for serving the best one.

If the locals are all young bohemians, serve cheap good food that they can afford.

If the local butcher says thick steak is his number one best seller, and there are no steak houses in town, perhaps you should transform into a steak house.

“Find a need. Fill a need.”

Topic #2 – Learning what your customers want (continued)

ChasingI was asked to join an advisory panel for a service I subscribe to. In this case it’s regarding a mobile site for a service I use.

Survey was simple. It let me comment on specific screens/functionality. Gave me an open ended response field to type in a verbatim response — as opposed to closed ended questions where I can only choose from the answers provided. They even displayed screen shots of the mobile website as a reminder of the interface. (very smart)

It gave me a sounding board to provide three points of critical feedback about the user experience. But they might have lost out on my valuable input due to a stupid mistake on their part. The survey invitation email subject line simply said “WAP Survey”

Very careless. “WAP” is a meaningless term to most people. Speak to me in English, not acronyms. They’re lucky that I’ve worked in mobile marketing and know what it means. Otherwise I would’ve deleted the email without opening it.

Topic #3 – More useful online resources to find events in your area

During episode #3, we talk about how to use to find networking events close to home. Here are two more:

Learned about them listening to CC Chapman’s excellent podcast on new media.

Personally, I got better search results on But you might have better luck depending on where you live.
Read more

HSCS-004 – Give your customers what they really want (Pt4, Run your business like Gordon Ramsay)

Do you honestly know what your customers and prospects really want? In this episode we discuss a reality check for business success. Ask yourself some hard questions. Plus, checkout some free/inexpensive tools to help you find out what you need to know.

Topic #1 – Find a need, fill a need

Angry pirate - click to view source creditDo you honestly know what your customers and prospects really want? Perhaps your stubborn attitude is the reason why your sales are down.

Are they really happy? Ever survey them?

  • Use customer comment cards? (How was the experience? Would they recommend you?)
  • Go out on the streets and literally ask people in the neighborhood what they think? (Ever heard of you? How do you compare to the competition?)
  • Put a sample in their hand to see reactions.
  • Ask them to complete an online survey (or paper survey if necessary).
  • Invite them to your office for lunch.
  • Invite them to participate in an advisory board.

Be prepared for honest criticisms:

  • Functional (Overly complex? Too simplistic? Opportunities for improvement.)
  • Aesthetic (Butt ugly?)
  • Cost (Overpriced? Underpriced?)
  • Value / ROI (As compared to competition. Both factual and perceived.)
  • Quality (Have standards been slipping?)
  • Service (Too little? Too much?)
  • Lack of support

What are the right questions to ask? Well that’s a topic for another time. Just don’t overwhelm your customers. Ask straightforward, meaningful questions.

Topic #2 – Tools to find out what your customers really want

ChasingSome of my marketing research colleagues might be gagging on the simplicity of these suggestions. But reality is, most small+mid-size businesses cannot afford formal methodology based research. They need directional info quickly and cheaply.

Free polling software:

If you are already using an email marketing service, some have built-in survey applications:

Having difficulty with fielding customer support inquiries. Checkout popular paid services like:

Read more

Your Favorite Types of Mobile Web Sites

If you have a mobile phone or wireless PDA, I’d appreciate if you take this quick poll to tell me what type of content is most important to you. Read more

Lessons Learned From NASA Mishandling of Air Safety Survey

NASA logoDamage control is an art form, best left to public relations professionals. While pharmaceuticals and other giants have learned from years of safety recalls (i.e. Tylenol, Vioxx, B&L MoistureLoc) what to do and not do in the face of media viciousness and consumer outrage, NASA fumbled terribly. Read more

Web Site Redesign: user research is critical

Does your client think the Web site redesign can be done without benefit of any basic research? That’s a sure sign of trouble ahead.

You need to understand how the site is currently being used, who is visiting and are their needs being met.

You can gather this information from a variety of sources:
– Primary research
– Secondary research
– Site logs
– Interviews with stakeholders
– Customer service

If you can’t get the above, set up an online survey triggered by site visitors. If you want to assess customers, set up a survey triggered when a customer logs into his account. If you have email addresses for consumers who registered at the site for something, send an email inviting them to participate in research. In my experience, inviting 50,000 consumers by email usually yields 1,500 completed surveys within 72 hours. That’s a significant representative sample to gain some learnings from.

Questionnaire design is an art form. Most research professionals keeping survey length to 10 questions max. Best is to sketch out what the most critical learnings your after. Then prioritize the questions, rewrite and rewrite again until you’ve come up with a good balance. Don’t forget to include 2-3 profile questions at the end to help segment your responders.

A good survey should:
1. Set expectations upfront as to what you want the participant to do and how long it should take.
2. Include clear, easy to understand questions. Include instructions (e.g. Please select one of the following choices.)
3. Set expectations as to how much longer the survey will take (e.g. “Almost done, just 3 more questions please.”)
4. Use form field validation to ensure you questions are answered.
5. Be error free. No spelling errors, confusing text or broken functionality.
6. Include a thank you message at the end.

Interested? Check out these easy to use and relatively inexpensive online survey tools:
Insight Express
Survey Monkey

What do you think? Please post your comments. Thanks.