There’s no question about it: the development and launch of a new product can be daunting.
With mounting pressure to innovate, today’s businesses are rapidly prototyping and testing new ideas on the daily. But while many companies stay focused on market relevance in saturated markets, wooing investors and winning awards, it’s increasingly easy to forget their most important stakeholder: the customer.
That’s why listening to customers early on is crucial to protecting time, money and customer loyalty metrics. When setting out to build anything, customers can be invaluable in providing feedback within context. Their feedback can impact anything from product design to feature functionality, and in a best-case scenario, even influence product roadmaps, cutting costs in the long-run.
Once you’re genuinely listening, it’s easy to find customer feedback that’s valuable and actionable. After all, who knows your product better than the people who use it most? In this article, we’ll take a look at how to master the art of listening to your customers to build better products and strengthen customer retention.
Get your customers involved
Get customers involved in the product development process right from the start. If you’re not sure how simply start by tapping into the channels they’re already using to talk to you. Today’s customers discuss their experiences in many places –– on social media, in industry-specific forums, and on customer feedback forms. Listening in on these channels means you’re not just focusing on the customers you already know, but including outliers who may not have a direct voice to your organization.
Once you begin listening to customers, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. Here are three methods that can help your business gain valuable insights that can have lasting effects on design and product decisions.
Listening on Digital Channels
Identify the channels your target audience uses most. From Facebook to Twitter to Reddit, any digital platform where customers are actively discussing your product (or a competitor’s product) is a good place to start. By listening for language patterns, it can be easy to pinpoint feature requests, usability issues, or product frustrations that need to be addressed before a single line of code is written. Plus, research shows that customers tend to be more honest online than in person.
Run Feedback Sessions
Talking face-to-face with customers is another invaluable way to listen. Organize feedback sessions with customers who fit your target audience’s demographics (i.e. occupation, age, and income). Include any team members you think may be relevant to the product development process, and share key takeaways with internal stakeholders such as designers, dev teams and project managers. There’s nothing more insightful than talking directly to your customers – in fact, most will appreciate it.
Use Aggregation Software & Tools
Give your customers a singular place to share their feedback with you and your team. While there are plenty of tools out there. Platforms like that can help you quantify your findings into actionable insights that can be used to improve the product development process. Tools like Innercircle give you the power to create polls, create audience-specific communities and include users early-on. Allowing customers to influence and vote on features they’d like to see implemented. These kinds of tools can help your team prioritize the development process by focusing on the features that matter most to your target audience.
Create a culture of listening and learning
Creating a culture of listening to customers can reap long-term rewards for your business. Running workshops for internal sales, marketing, and customer service teams can help ensure customers feel heard at every step of the sales funnel. Most importantly, pre-launch, your product teams can benefit immensely from a user-centered approach to product design and development. Making customer feedback a backbone of your business’s culture is a strong competitive edge in a growing culture of innovation. While companies rush to build shiny, new features to raise customer acquisition, customer feedback is a sure-fire strategy to ensure your business is building tools your users actually need –– strengthening customer retention and customer loyalty.
Turn Your Customer Into Your Competitive Edge
Your power users are an untapped resource of value and information. Let’s face it, who knows your product or service better than the customers who use it most? Recognize your most valuable customers for their true value, and they’ll reward you right back with loyalty and trust. So what are you waiting for?
Start building better relationships with your power users today with Innercircle.