Blog posts by Melinda Byerley.  See more at Medium. 

Better Customer Insight In 90 Minutes A Week

I love talking to customers! (Good thing, because that's what marketers should like doing). I especially like talking to them on the phone. Yes, you heard me right!

A lot of people are nervous about picking up the phone, but I have learned that it is not only FUN, it's easy. You won't believe how happy they are to hear from you! Hearing from customers who love your product and to learn from their perspective how you help them never gets old; but when your product fails, you learn so much more about yourself than you could in just a simple survey. This type of qualitative insight will inform your surveys more than anything else you can do. It will bring fire and depth to your product requests.

Here's the summary of how I do it, in just 90 minutes a week.

  • eMail 5 customers per week, and ask for a half hour phone call. Time spent: 30 mins.

  • Typically, I can schedule two calls a week, one half hour each. Time spent: 60 mins per call.

Here's the long version:

Pick any 5 customers. If you're really nervous, start with 5 who you know LOVE you. Really, it doesn't matter who you talk to at first. Send a simple email. In one case, I approached a customer because we'd seen an influx from their industry and I wanted to understand their industry. In another, I found an unhappy customer comment and wanted to better understand how we'd missed the mark.

Plan your approach for the call, and repeat it. I have a list of questions I use every time with every customer, but not as a script, more just to start the conversation and make sure I cover the same ground with all.

  • How do you use our product?

  • What would have stopped you from using our product?

  • What surprised you most about our product?

  • What 3 things do you like best about our product?

  • Would you recommend us? Why?

  • Is there anything you'd like to add?

Look for other opportunities in the call and react in real time. You can also start to identify your core influencers, people who are available for testimonials, guest blog posts, and press releases; as well as possible advisors. Either way, you're building a relationship, so remember that, and be on time, polite, and grateful.

If you do this every week for 48 weeks of the year, you'll talk to nearly 100 customers by next year. Multiply times your staff, and see how much better your insights get.

What questions do you like to ask customers when you call them?