How to unearth rich opportunities for your business

When interacting with customers, conversations are often transactional and focused on product and service delivery. Rarely do we take the time to reflect and have more meaningful conversations with our customers to understand what’s most important to them. Yet these conversations can lead to some of the richest business opportunities. Having richer and more fruitful conversations is the purpose of the ‘Let’s be Frank’ campaign.

Aim

‘Let’s Be Frank’ is an annual campaign designed to encourage more meaningful conversations with your customers to help unearth rich opportunities for your business.

Resources

  • A team of customer ‘interviewers’ – we encourage the whole team to get involved, including those who aren’t typically customer-facing.
  • Customers who would be receptive to a 45-minute conversation.
  • A Discussion Guide – typically developed by someone in the team to ensure everyone covers the same discussion points with customers.
  • A customer incentive (e.g. $100 per customer) to thank them for their time. We typically offer our clients a complimentary ticket to one of our masterclasses, valued at around $80.

Method

  1. Align on a focus area for your customer conversations that links to a key strategic objective. For example, creating mutually beneficial client partnerships, driving customer retention, or streamlining the customer service experience. Having a focus area will help keep the customer conversations on point and on track.
  2. Develop a Discussion Guide. The purpose of the Discussion Guide is to ensure everyone in the team explores the same key areas with each customer. It is a guide only and should help the group explore the customer’s most important
    needs (in the context of your focus area) and any underlying peeve points or frustrations. To develop the guide, start by understanding what’s important to your customer in the context of your focus area. Then you can hone in on
    specific areas or aspects you’re interested in understanding more about. Ensure that it is exploratory and includes open-ended questions.
  3. Confirm interview times with customers. Interviews should be booked for 45 minutes to 1 hour in length with 5 – 15 customers. (The number of interviews will depend on the complexity of the customer group. The more complex the customer group and the issues you’re exploring with them, the greater the number of interviews you will require). When confirming the interviews, you should give your customers some background on the purpose of the discussions and reinforce that it’s an opportunity to step beyond the day-to-day and better understand their needs. Don’t forget to offer them an incentive to thank them for their time.
  4. Brief the interview team. Schedule a 1-hour session to brief the team on the upcoming interviews and review the Discussion Guide. Ensure a broad cross-section of the team gets involved as it is a great opportunity (particularly for those in non-customer-facing roles) to get close to customers.
  5. Conduct the interviews in pairs. Interviews can be conducted virtually, over the phone or face-to-face (face-to-face is the most powerful if logistically possible). Conducting the interviews in pairs allows one person to ask questions while the other takes notes.
  6. Schedule a team debrief. Once everyone has conducted their customer interviews, schedule a debrief for the team to share insights. Look for common threads (i.e. things the group hears most consistently across multiple customers, the most frustrating things for customers, and the things that have inadequate solutions today). In the debrief, prioritise the opportunity areas and assign owners to action each.

Outcome

Running an annual ‘Let’s Be Frank’ campaign ensures you stay on top of what matters most to your customers. It provides an opportunity to take a step out of the day-to-day humdrum of your business and identify new opportunities that create value for your customers. Without carving time out for these important customer conversations, they probably won’t happen.