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How to get customer insights wrong

How to get customer insights wrong
Summary: As a marketer, you will know your customer, what they want, what triggers them, how they behave … or do you?

8 common mistakes and how to avoid them


Knowing and understanding your customer is central to any marketing strategy, whether it’s online or offline, so it’s valuable to conduct customer research that you can respond to swiftly , commercially and appropriately.

We’ve all done customer research for our businesses – whether ourselves, or in conjunction with insights specialists – as talking directly to customers gives us all of the answers, right?

Not necessarily.

Here are the 8 most common mistakes for you to avoid when you really want to get actionable value from your customer feedback …


1. Only asking one profile of customers

Fixating on your best customers and not asking for feedback from your lapsed customers, new customers and non-buyers of the right persona profile is a big miss as you’ll get disproportionately positive results. Similarly, not checking that the people you are asking are invested in you in an appropriate way will send you down a blind alley.

Be intentional and rounded about the customer groups you are asking for feedback from.


2. Not managing the room

Be wary of the loudest voice in the room – they can often sway the rest in a group situation.

If you aren’t confident in doing this, use a trained facilitator to help.


3. Taking what is said as gospel

“What would you pay for this?”

In many cases, they have no comparison, haven’t researched the market, so they can’t be expected to know.

Ask about relativity to existing products (yours and your competitors), rather than talking about products in isolation.


4. Dismissing historical feedback

Time and attitudes move on, so don’t assume that because you asked a question in the past that the answers will still be the same today.

Consider what the most important questions are to ask, rather than coming up with new questions for the sake of it.


5. Asking leading questions

“What do you like about this product?”

This type of question makes it harder for the respondent to say “not much”!

Instead, ask open questions that allow the customers to talk openly about their experiences.


6. Asking the customer what they think they might want

“What skirt shape do you think you’ll want next season?”

This is a vague question, and at point of asking, the customer doesn’t know the possibilities that will be available to them.

Alternatively, show them a choice of sample products and ask them to explain what they think about them.


7. Trying to deliver everything your customers have asked for

Back in my retail days, there was a saying that giving customers everything they wanted was a quick road to the Administrators.

Of course you must listen and take appropriate action, but keep your decision making on brand and commercial.


8. Overthinking the outputs and actions required

Before you know it, you have forgotten the rationale behind your research and you’ve created layer upon layer of complex action workstreams.

Keep your action plan simple and agile.


​As a parting thought …
According to the Spice Girls, when you ask a customer, “Tell me what you want, what you really really want?” that customer wants you to create a “really, really, really zigazig ah,“.                     Hannelore Kron



Good customer understanding is at the foundation of all Digital strategies – be that your Website, SEO, PPC or Content marketing. The better you know what they really really want, the better set up you are to deliver it.

If you want to know more about developing a digital strategy, why not contact us for a chat!


Embrace Digital. Stay Human.

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