18 ways to get to know your customer

- May 23, 2018 5 MIN READ

Listen to your customers, you’ll get new knowledge and knowledge is power, writes Elyssia Clark.

We love our customers (well, mostly!). As small business owners, they’re the centre of our world.  But there’s one more thing you can do to show how much you love your customers. Get to know your customer. Listen to them. Get their thoughts on what you’re doing well, and what could be even better.

You’ll get new knowledge. And knowledge is power. Power to build a business that gets results. Quite simply, if you don’t take the time to listen to your customers, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

It doesn’t have to be hard – here’s 18 ideas to get you going. But before you start, just ask yourself these two questions.

  1. What do you want to learn?
  2. How will you use your new insights?

Some ideas here are perfect for service based businesses. Others are more suited to those selling products. Choose a couple of these ideas to help you get to know your customer and commit to trying them out.

1. Experiment with live chat

More websites than ever are offering visitors the opportunity to get answers to their questions using live chat. What this means is people expect more from ALL websites – not just the big players. Being able to respond to questions in real time can make the difference between a closing a sale or someone heading off to another site. The added benefit of live chat is the questions themselves will tell you what information is hard to find on your website. If you’ve got a wordpress site, here’s some plug-in suggestions. If you’re on Shopify, this great blog post from has 15 suggested apps you could use.

2. Phone a customer

Yup, sounds a bit weird and random I know but stay with me. Find a customer you haven’t heard from in a while. Start with a simple introduction “I’m just checking in” before moving into “Is there anything I can help you with at the moment?”. Want a new years resolution? Aim to do one call a month. That’s 12 conversations you might not otherwise have had. It’s not a hard sell. It’s about taking the time to listen to their needs and making the effort to proactively connect.

3. Send a couple of short questions via email

Simple questions like “What would you like us to focus on this year? What’s your biggest challenge at the moment? How are we doing? What do you want to learn more about?” You can download our infographic here on creating good questions, learn how to write an effective email invitation here, and watch this short video on how to set up a simple survey in SurveyMonkey here.

4. Include a survey link on receipts

Create a short ‘how did we do’ survey using SurveyMonkey or Typeform (here’s how to do it) then update your receipt template to read “We’d love your feedback – head here (include the survey link) to tell us how we went today”. If you can, use imagery to draw attention to the survey link (such as an icon).

5. Ask for feedback as people leave your website

You might have seen this before, as you hover over the “x” icon a pop up will appear. It can polarise (some love it, others not so much) but used wisely it can deliver great insights. Only ask one simple question, provide answer categories, use for a limited period of time, and be ok that many people will choose not to do it. Hotjar or Survicate make it quick and easy to get this kind of feedback.

6. Make time to take a customer out for coffee

Making the effort to spend time with customers face to face shows their value to you, and gives you the chance to hear first-hand where they’re at. Again, keep the focus broad – get to know their biggest challenges, and see how you might be able to help – either yourself or by connecting them with others in your network

7. Run a zoom session with a group of clients

Got some burning questions you’d love some feedback on? Why not run a zoom session and ask a group of clients together for their input? The beauty of this is that participants can build off each other’s ideas, you can ask questions to clarify any grey areas, and you can record the session to replay later. It’s a bit like running a focus group only more convenient – here’s a quick introduction to focus groups from the balance.

8. Segment your subscribers based on their preferences

Ask your subscribers what they’d like to learn more about. Then segment and deliver tailored content. Being able to customise content means more relevant information for your readers, better cut-through and more engagement.

9. Have a contact us / feedback page on your website

It builds trust and facilitates a two-way conversation.

10. Use polls in your Facebook group or website to prioritise and make decisions

Tossing up between two new blog post ideas? Embed a short poll onto your website or Facebook page and get visitors to vote on their preferred topic.

11. Regularly ask for customer reviews.

Proactively ask your customers to leave reviews on your Facebook page or website. Take the time to note any common themes and respond accordingly. And be sure to tell customers what you’ve changed and why – it motivates people to give you feedback when you ask again in the future.

12. Test new ideas before launching

Before rolling out new products or services, get feedback on your ideas. You can do this in person, through a survey sent via email or a poll on your website. It can save you time and money – ensuring your next big idea has legs.

13. Get feedback on your order confirmation page.

Ask for feedback at the order confirmation stage. This can be two simple questions – how would you rate your experience, and what can we do to make it better? The advantage is the experience is fresh in your customers’ mind.

14. Embed a fun survey or quiz on your website

Ask a couple of questions to drive engagement and get intel at the same time. Perhaps a ‘what type of person are you’ kind of quiz, or ‘what brought you here today’?

15. Get feedback upon cart abandonment

Having people fill their cart then disappear is so frustrating. Insights into why this is happening can play a critical role in decreasing cart abandonment rates. Both Hotjar or Survicate make it quick and easy to get this kind of feedback and we really like MOpinions thoughts on how to reduce it.

16. Make it simple to give feedback in a shop

Got a physical store? Buy an inexpensive tablet, and create a one question survey using Google Forms, Survey Monkey or Typeform. As customers check out and wait for their credit card payment to be processed, invite them to give anonymous feedback on their experience.

17. Host a networking event with your clients

Run a networking event for your clients to meet each other, and use the time to get a better understanding of their current challenges.

18. Set up an ongoing customer feedback system

Getting feedback on a regular basis helps you keep up with changing customer expectations. Here’s how to build a customer feedback system, along with critical questions to include.


Chatbots are coming! Chatbots are a definite ‘must-watch’ as we move into 2018, and there is huge potential to use them to better understand your customers. It’s easier than ever to integrate them into Facebook Messenger. Create a series of questions to help your customers navigate your site and get the answers they need, and use their responses to inform the design of your website, products and services. Check out ManyChat or ChatFuel for some inspiration, and watch this space for more to come.

So there’s just 19 ways you can get to know  your customer. The first step is often the hardest – but once you get going, the value of customer feedback will be obvious in no time.

This article originally appeared on The Research Toolkit