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When was the last time you talked to a real live customer? If you are at a start-up it is crucial to talk to your customers in the flesh. It can mean the difference between blindly building a product that no one uses to one that actually adds value to your end user.

  • AG

    Alison Groves

    over 6 years ago #

    I've hosted Skype chats before where we gleaned more product information in five minutes than we could've done in five days internally. Crazy to me that something of that nature isn't just a given practice.

    • RG

      Ramya Gogineni

      over 6 years ago #

      I love the Skype idea. That’s a great tactic! I would love to implement that sometime. It’s amazing what a conversation can do vs. email, surveys etc.

  • ND

    Nate Desmond

    over 6 years ago #

    I've found even talking with potential customers through Olark or SnapEngage chat on our website can uncover lots of ideas I never would have thought of by myself. Talking in person is definitely better, but I was surprised how much I could learn through text.

    • RG

      Ramya Gogineni

      over 6 years ago #

      That's a great point Nate. Sometimes you can't talk in person. Have you tried though to invite your customers over to your offices for a chat?

  • SS

    Scott Seiffer

    over 6 years ago #

    We recently did a company-wide phone-a-thon where each employee took 20 min out of their day to call 1 or 2 potential customer and ask them a few pretty open-ended questions.

    Great way to get unfiltered feedback about what's working, what's not, and where we should focus as an organization.

    And as opposed to an onsite or email survey (both of which can definitely be useful in their own right), potential customers appreciated talking to a genuine person, several even mentioning it specifically.

    • AG

      Alison Groves

      over 6 years ago #

      That's awesome Scott! Makes me want to come work with y'all. :)

      • SS

        Scott Seiffer

        over 6 years ago #

        Haha, thanks Alison! Don't believe what you hear: Boston is downright lovely in February :)

    • RG

      Ramya Gogineni

      over 6 years ago #

      Scott that is awesome! I love this idea. I also wonder if the your employees came away energized and more ready to deliver on your company's mission after the "phone-a-thon". This is an added benefit that I didn't really get to talk about but I do think it's an important and beneficial part of talking to customers.

      • SS

        Scott Seiffer

        over 6 years ago #

        Absolutely. Much easier to get buy-in to focus on customer needs when everyone is allowed/encouraged to participate in outreach.

  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    over 6 years ago #

    Just catching up on some of the articles that I missed this week that made the GrowthHackers Weekly Top Posts email. This was one of them!

    I completely agree that the most valuable thing you can do to improve a company's success is talk with customers. I often say that customers hold the keys to unlocking growth if you can just figure out how to extract the right information from them. I love the idea of hosting "meet the team" events in our office (going to start pulling together lists of local customers near each of our offices).

    I disagree about the value of surveys. That's not surprising since it's the business that I'm in. The reason I'm in the survey business is that surveys have always been a huge part of my success at companies like Dropbox, LogMeIn and Eventbrite. Surveys allow you to filter through lots of feedback and hone in on the real kernel of value that your product delivers. I tend to use something like SurveyMonkey for that. But surveys can also help you uncover specific issues in your product or conversion flows (which is what Qualaroo does). Surveys on their own aren't that valuable, but combined with genuine customer conversations, user testing, A/B testing, etc, you begin to really gain the insights you need to build a valuable company.

    • SS

      Scott Seiffer

      over 6 years ago #

      Great points Sean. Definitely agree the most value comes from using a variety of sources (onsite survey, survey sent via email, phone calls, in person interviews, etc) to gather data from customers.

  • GJ

    George Jurgens

    over 6 years ago #

    This reminded me of a chapter in "The Lean Startup" by Eric Ries. There's a very interesting section on 'Talking to Customers' and the role it played in the success of IMVU and made them realise the amount of time and money they wasted on features they ASSUMED customers would want.

  • GS

    Gabriel Song

    over 6 years ago #

    Great insights. One more thing, read body language. There's far more honesty hidden in non-verbal communication. If you can connect with your user, don't be afraid to ask for more.
    For example, tap into what you felt from the moment: "I can feel you're not very enthusiastic about your opinion. Would you mind if I ask you to explain a little bit more about what you really think about our product?" It might be just then when your customers engage and spill the beans out.

  • BT

    Billings Tanaa

    over 6 years ago #

    Great points. I have always believed anything formal with customers will only get them tell you what you want to hear, or better still not convey the emotions that come with articulating their concerns. Interaction in a social setting is way to go. The emotions behind the message is gem, especially when they're 2 heinekens down! I approve this methodology 100%

    • RG

      Ramya Gogineni

      over 6 years ago #

      Haha I love your comment. So true, " he emotions behind the message is gem, especially when they’re 2 heinekens down! "

      I think sometimes we as growth hackers get to mired in data. We need to see the forest.

  • RG

    Ramya Gogineni

    over 6 years ago #

    @Allison Groves. That's a great tactic! I would love to implement that sometime. But it's amazing what a conversation can do vs. email, surveys etc.

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