Lucky me! I’m a Customer Detective

I’m about to go visit Texas where I will spend time with customers and prospects of my new employer. Now that I work for a company that caters to small businesses and non-profits I am given opportunities to interact with customers or prospects almost every day.

Take yesterday for example. It was a Saturday, and here in my hometown I went to the local YMCA to exercise, went to my hair salon, the local hardware store and out to a small Mexican restaurant for dinner. Every one of these establishments is or could be a customer of ours.

What this means is I am constantly thinking of ways small businesses can benefit from using our solutions. I’m constantly asking them questions. I’m always trying to understand what is on their mind from a business perspective, even if it has nothing to do with the services we offer them today. It’s fascinating. I feel like a detective out solving the latest small business marketing mystery. I love it!

It brings me to the point of this post. If you are a marketing professional in a high tech or low tech company. If you’re a person responsible for designing, building or marketing solutions the best way you can spend your time is with customers. Go see them. Invite them to come see you. Meet up with them at conferences. Do it casually or do it formally. But above all, make sure you do it.

More than once in my career I can remember joining a new team and asking the existing folk when was the last time they talked with customers. Or I would ask how, when and where they talked with customers. If I was greeted with a blank stare or a roll of the eyes I knew I was in for a challenge. There are many marketers who do not have regular interaction with customers. And if you don’t have this regular interaction you’re never going to be as good at your job as you could be or as you may want to be.

You may be reading this with a smug look on your face, thinking, “we conduct research studies from time to time so I rely on those to understand our customers.” I argue that research reports while necessary are not sufficient.

You need to be able to go out where the customers live. Where they work every day. Where they service their customers and where they are faced with their toughest challenges and opportunities. And you need to watch them, talk with them and take it all in. Because this is where you will find the golden nuggets. This is where you will find the small, subtle clues that will help you solve the mystery.

I feel fortunate to be working for a company focused on small businesses. I’m interacting with our customers and potential customers every day. Lucky me!

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One Response to “Lucky me! I’m a Customer Detective”

  1. Peter Russert Says:

    Shelley,
    Spot on. I love discovering things in customer conversations that dispel old myths becuase it usually means uncovering an opportunity. amazing that more in-house marketers aren’t fascinated/obsessed with your quest

    Peter

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