Small Business Saturday Blog

Five ways to better know your customers

Thursday, October 15 at 12:33Events | Research | Small Business Saturday

Using Research Methods for a Better Understanding of Your Customers 

At Who London we constantly research to make sure our events are fun and diverse for our customers. In today’s world where there are so many options for consumers, we have to listen to what our clients are telling us. We shouldn’t forget to really research our audience and not just our market space; take the time to ask potential customers how your product or service could suit them.

Here is an outline of ways to use research methods to better understand your customers. With all research methods do remember to decide if your findings will be confidential and let potential respondents know if they are or not.

Primary and Secondary Analysis
The first step and continued approach for best business practice would be to find data and documents both online and offline and analyse them to see how you could develop or change what you offer. You could use statistics, newspapers, forums and social media to shed new light on topics. It’s vital that we keep abreast of improving our services for our customers.

London changes all the time with new restaurants and courses on offer, so this is something we at Who London research continuously.

Interviews/1-2-1s
These can be useful on an ongoing basis and can be casual as well. For a more formal approach you can set up interviews with an individual and make them as structured or unstructured as you like, i.e. think about if it’s most appropriate to have closed questions such as “Do you like eating out?” Or for more open-ended questions you could ask “What type of restaurants do you like?”

If set interviews are not something that is appropriate for your business, why not ask people you meet for their thoughts and ideas, or simply discuss your venture with them and see what they reply? We’re always talking to new people and this can provide so much interesting and valuable information.

Focus Groups
These groups usually range from 4-12 people and they work as discussion groups because they’re used for understanding group dynamics for a particular topic. Focus groups are perfect for Who London as we are about people interacting in social groups at our events. Focus groups can have some structure but this research method’s strength is that with them you can see where points deviate to without leading respondents into areas that you believe are most important. Some participants will be more vocal than others, so try and make everybody feel naturally comfortable, whether it’s by introductions or even offering drinks and nibbles.

Observation
You might be able to study individuals or groups and learn this way. You could also think about participant observation where you would become part of e.g. joining a dining club to understand how they’re formed, what they’re like first hand and how, looking outwards, you personally feel part of the group. If you do this, think particularly about ethics during your planning stage.

Surveys
These are great for giving anonymity to respondents if needed. For instance, you might feel you’ll gain honest in-depth answers if the respondent knows that you’re not able to assign answers to respondents. They’re also time-efficient in collecting responses.  However, like with all other research methods, they require more planning than usually initially thought.  For instance when you’re devising your questions, be careful not to ask two questions at the same time, e.g. “Have you gone to a restaurant in the last week and do you have any favourite restaurants?”

Try not to be ambiguous with wording or phrases because we all have a different comprehension of the English language after all – simple is the key! Surveys are great for feedback too. You can even ask if you could use comments given here as testimonials on your website (just get permission to use their name/s and location). At Who London we like to keep our after events feedback questions quite open-ended so that the attendee can really say what’s on their mind and we don’t assume anything.

Good thorough research should be done at least yearly, but that doesn’t mean you should entirely refrain from it at all other times. Research can be done in bite-sized chunks within this timeframe too – for example you might like to solely research which special offers appeal to your customers during the Christmas period. Whatever stage your business is at, don’t be afraid to change and add things in response to what your ongoing research tells you.

The good news is research is an enjoyable way to uncover new insights and results to ensure you’re fulfilling customer needs, the lifeline of your business. Make sure you show your customers they’re your priority.


In 2014 Alexandra Felce launched Who London, the London social events organisation for anyone 50+. To find out more visit www.wholondon.co.uk
























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