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A Common Sense Approach To Customer Insights

Joanne is a small business owner. She operates a catering van that travels to local industrial estates, serving workers who don’t have easy access to high street cafes and fast food restaurants closer to town. Joanne’s business lives and dies on what she knows about her customers. So she makes it her business to know a lot about them.

She knows that Darren leaves home without breakfast before his kids are up. There is no time to pack lunch because he has to be on the road before rush hour traffic hits. Joanne knows that most days Darren stops at the convenience store for a Red Bull which he drinks in his truck before beginning a day of sawing, sanding and heavy lifting. Unlike the office workers in the city who work from 9-5 and lunch at midday, Darren will be famished by 10–which is why her van makes its rounds before 11. She knows he needs something he can eat with one hand while standing in his workshop between jobs, and that he won’t be looking for sushi or a paleo salad bowl. Joanne knows that Darren will knock off early on Friday and head to the pub for a few beers with his mates. He will do the garden on Saturday and take his boys to footie on Sunday.

These insights are invaluable to Joanne’s business. They influence her hours of operation, the products she stocks and the customer experience she provides. And she didn’t need a data analyst or an algorithm to uncover them.

We can learn as much from spending time with our customers as we can by looking for clues among surveys, demographics and data sets. It turns out that understanding comes from looking beyond data points that can be easily measured or plotted on a graph. How much do you know about how your customers behave or what they think about, prioritise, value and believe in?

Image by Michelle Ress.

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