54: A Foolproof System for Tracking Customer Needs
After being in business a while it’s easy to feel that we inherently know our customers. When we assume we know how our customers think, feel, and act, we risk missing the mark with our messaging. I’m sharing a system you can use to track what your customers are telling you, moving from guessing why they buy to knowing for sure.
On this episode, I share:
The points along the customer journey you should be paying attention to,
When customers are sharing valuable insights with you,
How to spot patterns across those who book you and those who don’t, and
Why a tracking document is going to strengthen your marketing messages.
TAKING NOTE OF WHAT CUSTOMERS ARE SAYING
One of the hardest things about creating a message that connects is figuring out what customers need to hear.
After working with a target market for a while, our customers’ needs can seem familiar, almost something we take for granted. This is a dangerous place to be.
It’s easy to feel like we know what we need to say in our marketing, but the longer we do the work, the further we actually become from being like those who need or want to hire us.
This makes it hard to sit down and write to them. I’ve talked to many business owners who have a good sense of what they think they should say, but then they sit down to write and they get stuck.
Strong marketing messages also require you to remember how to speak to customers BEFORE they’re convinced they should buy from you.
Even between a consult call and proposal you can get fuzzy on exactly how a prospective customer described their needs.
To attract the right people, you’ve got to nail this piece of business communication.
IDENTIFYING PATTERNS ACROSS PROSPECTS
A prospect reached out to me recently. She had a full roster—that wasn’t the problem. Actually, maybe her calendar was too full. Attracting customers wasn’t the problem. Attracting the RIGHT ones was.
She wasn’t sure what it was about her communication that was leading the wrong people to reach out. But it was draining her. And she wasn’t saying no when there were red flags.
That’s a whole ‘other conversation to have.
My mind immediately went to her brand message.
How could she set clearer expectations around what she did and what she did not do? And how could she speak to customers looking for that level of support?
Seeing the big picture requires more than just reviewing your client survey results. It means looking for patterns across clients, spanning their interactions with you from inquiry to partnership to project completion.
So that leads me to my question:
Do you have a tracking system for your customers’ needs?
CAPTURING THE WORDS THEY USE
What I mean is: do you have an “at a glance” document that allows you to quickly spot trends related to:
Why people reach out to you through an inquiry
What they express on sales calls
Highlights along your client engagement
Reflections on working with you and
How they describe their outcomes?
…all in their own words?…
When you’re trying to figure out how to craft a message that resonates with your people, this document always gives you a place to start.
I find most business owners don’t track their customer journey and feedback in this way. They’re in a cycle of reformulating their message over and over when a better starting part is always available.
As a reminder, this is an episode with an action guide. Subscribe for access to this and other free episode action guides.
SETTING UP YOUR TRACKING SYSTEM
I’m going to share what my tracking document looks like. Yours doesn’t have to look like this, but it’s certainly an easy place to start.
I recommend setting it up in Excel or Google Sheets.
The reason I recommend this is because you’re going to have 7 columns. I guess you could also set it up in a table too, if you’re more comfortable.
As I said, you’re going to have 7 columns. The rows across will be EACH PERSON WHO REACHES OUT TO YOU.
Name: name of the person who reached out to you
Booked: did they book? Yes/no.
Inquiry form: highlights from their inquiry or contact form submitted when they first reached out.
Consult call: specific things they mentioned on the call related to what they’re currently experiencing, what solution they’re looking for, and how they think what you offer might change their life or work.
Email comments: take note of ‘aha’ moments clients had, breakthroughs, and feedback along the way.
Feedback form: if you can tie a name to survey response, record their response here.
Testimonial: formal testimonials, approved for public use, are important to track centrally and this is the perfect place to do so.
USING YOUR TRACKER
Here’s one specific way I’ve used my tracker in the last six months:
When I was writing copy for my new site, I started getting all up in my head feeling like I had said the same thing 100 times. I wanted to ground myself in my audience’s shoes.
The question I kept asking myself is, “What are my customers saying they need when they come to me? What do they think I do?”
Turns out one pattern I could see is that my clients wanted to sound “more professional.” Most of my clients are highly skilled in their trade or professional area, but conveying that in a way that sounded high-end wasn’t something that came easy to them.
The biggest benefit is you don’t have to guess! You can open up this living, breathing document and immediately see what things come up consistently.
How often should you update the tracker?
I’m going to be realistic and say once per quarter. And I’m recommend starting with a clean sheet each year.
It’s not that I assume one year to the next has a specific significance, but businesses do evolve and it’s easier to see relevant trends when you’re splitting up customer data by year.
Another benefit is you don’t have to dig through emails and surveys to find what you’re looking for. When you do that it’s nearly impossible to spot trends, which means you may have a little confirmation bias—you think something exists and you’re looking to find it, no matter where or how often it comes up.
If you can keep it up, this document will be a gold mine of insights for your business.
Don’t forget to subscribe to download the action guide. I know there’s a lot of detail I mentioned here.
If you end up using the tracking doc, let me know how it goes. What are you seeing that you might not have seen before? What column are you adding because it’s relevant to your business.
Until next time..