Every company wants great relationships with its customers. The question what does it take to truly turn your connection with customers into a superpower?
Let's start very simply.
The most obvious (and most common) way to deepen a customer relationship is to ask for customer feedback so that you can improve your product. You do NPS (Net Promoter Score) surveys. You set up focus groups. You conduct user testing. You try to identify bugs. You try to collect, categorize and prioritize new feature requests. All good things to do. If you’re not doing those things, you should start. It’s good, clean living.
Next, there’s an even better thing to do. Don’t just get feedback on your product, get feedback on your entire customer experience. What’s it like evaluating your product before buying? Was it easy to figure out pricing? Was a conversation with a sales person necessary? If so, was that conversation enjoyable or dreadful? What do customers think about the invoice emails they get from you? Are they clear? How do they feel about your support? Is your sales team helpful or aggressive when looking to upsell existing customers? Is your experience good enough that when the customer changes jobs, they take you with them to their new gig? If you’re not collecting feedback and seeking answers to these kinds of questions, you should start. It’s better, cleaner living.
Once you start getting good at this kind of customer feedback, there’s one more level to achieve. And, it’s not about “collecting feedback”. The inherent limitation with collecting customer feedback is that it’s all about you. How your product can get better. How your business can get better. Nothing wrong with your goal being to make your business better. That is a fine, understandable goal to have.
But, in order to truly build that deeper connection and understanding, it can't be about you. Not directly.
The next level is going beyond collecting customer feedback and connecting to a customer's hopes, dreams and fears. Remember, customers are people too. How is your customer doing? Are they OK? What’s work been like? What’s life been like? What problems are they trying to solve? What is keeping them up at night?
Now, you might have this question in your head:
“Dharmesh, this is all well and good, but how is all that relevant to my business?”
It may or may not be relevant to your business. But I guarantee you it’s relevant to the customer. And they are relevant to your business.
You may find that response a tad too abstract and not sufficiently satisfying.
So, let me expand on it.
Let’s say you’re looking to spot new market trends before others. Find new adjacencies to expand your offering. Identify an acute market need. The best way to do these kinds of things is to understand your customers. Like, really understand them and what’s going on in their lives.
The ability to deeply connect with customers in this way is a super power.
Does it scale? No. But, it doesn’t need to. Even if after a hundred conversations you uncover just one transforming insight, it’s worth it. And you will. It’s just a matter of time.
At my company, HubSpot, we believe that we’re not just here to build software, we’re here to build careers. So, we really try to dig into the true needs of our customers. We ask ourselves not just what our software can do for them, but what our company can do for them. That mindset has served us well -- and I think it would work for you too.