Conducting customer research is important at all stages of a company’s life cycle, so whether you’re at the ideation stage, making modifications to a minimum viable product (MVP), or wanting to find the perfect price point for a new product launch, you should never stop engaging with your customer.
Fortunately, conducting customer research doesn’t have to be complicated! Here are 3 easy ways to do customer research:
1 - Instagram Stories
Use Instagram! This a really easy and fun way to connect with your followers/potential customers and get quick feedback. Recently, Instagram released the ability to conduct simple A/B polls through Instagram Stories. This is a game-changer because someone who may not be willing to open an email asking them to take a survey may be happy to give you feedback through a simple instagram poll. Also, it shows your followers and customers that you want to provide them with the best possible value and provides them with an invitation to be a part of your business process.
So what are some ways to use Instagram polls? Get creative! For example, you might:
Compare two features for your app interface
Get insight to what your followers want your next video content to be
Discover what your customers are willing to pay for a new product you're thinking of launching
The key here is to be clear and concise, so plan out what you’re going to poll ahead of time (super helpful). Planning will help you create a poll that is engaging and ramble-free. Lastly, don’t overwhelm your followers with too many story clips in a row as they are more likely to drop off before even getting to your poll. Am I the only one who taps to skip the long stories?
2 - SurveyMonkey
SurveyMonkey works great if you already have a growing email list for your company and loyal customers who’ve already received some type of value from you or your business. Think about it: who really jumps at the idea of taking time out of their day to answer surveys? This is why surveys are most likely to work great for an existing, loyal customer base full of subscribers, past customers or current clients.
However, this doesn’t mean you can’t use SurveyMonkey or any other survey platforms to reach out to potential customers. I used SurveyMonkey to validate a problem in a market that I was seeing and curious about. The challenge here is that you’ll likely need to send 100 emails for every 5-10 responses you receive. Don’t be discouraged! Also, don’t be tempted to offer free gift cards for people to fill out your survey, because you’ll get people filling it out just for the gift card and not because they actually care about what you're asking. If you’re solving a real problem that is truly going to make someone's life easier or relieve some kind of pain point for them, then they’ll be more than happy to respond without being promised a gift card.
3 - In Person
Conducting customer research face-to-face may sound daunting at first, but it gets easier with practice and is extremely rewarding! This method is helpful especially if you are trying to get feedback on something like an app or web interface. There’s nothing worse than building something that people hate using, so why not get feedback as you design your idea to ensure you’re creating something people want.
The challenge here is to not come off as “salesy”. Remember, you’re not selling anything (yet), and you win when you get honest feedback, whether you agree with it or not. Listening to your customer really is a learned skill, along with not taking critical feedback personally. One of the most valuable things I learned when I was going around to universities with only a mock app is that, the less I talked, the more the customer was sold on our product.
What do I mean?
I would go into meetings asking university employees about a specific process I knew was a mess in the industry; what I discovered is that people love to talk about their job! The more people talked, the more they convinced themselves that there was a problem that needed to be solved. This made it easy for me to come off as a friend trying to fix their problem and genuinely wanting to provide value. Eventually, this lead to attaining several letters-of-intent from various universities, without having a product in hand.
Once you get started on conducting customer research, you’ll find that it’s extremely rewarding. Customer research doesn’t mean you don’t know what you’re doing, it means you care about what you’re doing!