How to Identify your Customer Preferences

How do you identify your customer preferences? Is this any different than customer special needs? Well, yes and no. Special needs are a bit more cut and dry, and a bit more core than your preferences. But, this doesn’t mean that preferences aren’t immensely important.

So, let’s take a look at what customer preferences really means, and how to identify and measure them dynamically and effectively. First, a definition. It is strongly similar to customer needs, in that it’s various things that a company can do to satisfy things the customer base would like to see put in place.

The benefits of defining and aiming to satisfy some of these needs are pretty obvious. If you hear your customers’ wishes, and take efforts to make changes that attempt to grant these wishes, some wonderful things can happen. Customers will enjoy your product or service more, for one thing. For another, it will bolster loyalty and earn you the reputation of being flexible and accommodating to them.

So, how do you learn of these preferences, and what do you do with the data you get from it?

Well, like needs, the only way to get this information originally was via focus groups and surveys. Well, those are all well and good, but you can get so much more, pure insight now than you could at one time. The advent of the internet, and the social network movement of modernity have provided a framework to overhear these wishes and preferences from the horse’s mouth, with no shyness in their words.

Social networks are a big source of this, using business intelligence software to watch mentions on places like Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook, and measuring positive and negative mention of your product or service and of your company. In this channel, they will also mention things they wish a company would do, or things they would prefer if they could have their way.

The benefit of hearing this here is that they are not so shy or complicit in what they say. In a focus group or in a survey, they know you are listening intently, and they tend to pad their negatives or their desires a bit so to not be insulting or rude to the company.

Being easygoing like this is human nature, but on the internet, opinions flow like a river, unabashed and pure.

So, what do you do with this kind of information once you have it? Nobody’s standardized that part so far, but I think I can help. So, first, count all the basic preferences you’ve picked up on. Rank them by frequency and, if you can be soft about metrics, how impassioned they are.

Then, the most prioritized ones from that sorting, figure out which ones are the most economic and practical to act on, and go for it.

Customer preferences are not hard to pick up on these days, and really, that simple method of prioritizing and measuring which ones to act on is pretty solid and fool proof. Meeting some preferences is good for business and for customer relations, so taking this seriously is important, just like meeting customer needs is. Maybe it’s not quite as core, but it’s still important.


is Specialist in Customer Success and chief writer and editor of I Want It Now, a blog for Customer Service Experts. Follow her @StefWalkMe