Know Your Customers: using voice of customer research

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What customers want to know about your business.

As a business owner, you must know your customers.

After a customer realises they have a problem, and before they contact a professional to fix it, they research online. They may have a vague idea of their problem and be unsure if a solution exists. Or they might know exactly what’s wrong and know exactly who they’d like to fix it.

Get to know your customers, discover what they want, then give it to them on a plate.
Get to know your customers, discover what they want, then give it to them on a plate.

Image by LinkedIn sales solutions via Unsplash.

Many businesses that are trying to attract these customers are basing their marketing messages and their website copy on guesswork.

Clients come from conversations.

Ian Brodie

Stop guessing what your customers want.

Don’t write your website copy based on educated guesswork, there’s a better way. Talk to and get to know your customers. Find out what they want. Then give it to them on a plate.

The customer’s journey.

You need to understand the journey your customer goes on from realising she has a problem, all the way through to having implemented a successful solution.

  • What trigger started the process?
  • What does her perfect solution look like?
  • And what exact words and phrases does she use when talking about the problem she has and the solution she seeks?

Ask the right questions.

If you interviewed your customers or clients in person, or did review mining, you could rebuild your whole offering, and your marketing messages about that offering, based on facts that matter to your customers. 

By getting to know your customers by talking to them or by review mining, you understand their state of mind. You know what made them act now. And you discover their state of awareness about their problem and their understanding of the available solutions.

It’s your job to dig out this information from real customers, who have actually bought the services you sell. And to do that, you must use open-ended questions and make it obvious you’re listening carefully to her answers. Then convince her you’ve understood what she said. Seek first to understand, only then seek to be understood. Or, as your mother might say, you have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listen twice as much as you talk.

The information you’re looking for.

When talking to customers you’re looking for information that tells you this customer has a need your business can fulfil.

This is the information you’re trying to fish out…

  • Struggle: what is her pain or problem?
  • Fix or solution: what does she see as the job to be done?
  • Hesitations: what’s she afraid of? What is stopping her from acting?
  • State of awareness: is she most aware, product aware, solution aware, problem aware, not aware?
  • Differentiators: when speaking to past customers who bought, what tipped the balance, and made them choose you? In her eyes, what was your USP. Why did she choose you from all her options?
  • Success: what does she see as a successful outcome? What does she really want?

Build a swipe file or dossier,

After listening carefully to what your customer says about her problem and the path she took to solve it. You build a swipe file of quotes describing her hopes, fears, aspirations, and emotional state. You write this swipe file using your customer’s own words. Your swipe file includes the individual words your customer uses, as well as full sentences. If your customer says anything that sounds especially important, save that as a quote that you can highlight in your web page text.

Bottle the voice of your customer.

You have now captured, canned, or bottled the voice of your customer.

These words come straight from the horse’s mouth. They speak to prospective customers, people who visit your website, in a way your made-up copy didn’t. Your website is now speaking peer-to-peer, friend to friend, as one insider to another. You and your reader are now on the same wavelength. You even use the same words, language, and terminology that she uses to describe her problem and the solution she seeks.

Special quotes.

List the most compelling quotes you gathered from your customer interviews. Find quotes that would stop other prospective customers in their tracks and make them think, that’s exactly the situation I’m in. Or that’s exactly how I feel. Or that’s just what I want. Display these special quotes prominently, scattered throughout your copy, with quote-marks to make them stand out. When a prospect scans your text she thinks, these people really understand me. They can clearly see that you know your customers.

Mindset and emotional baggage.

Next, you need to analyse your customer’s mindset, so you know how to word your copy. Is she despondent, or hopeful and excited, is she disbelieving or trusting? What emotional state is she in? Until you understand her mindset and uncover the emotional baggage she brings with her when she reads your copy, you don’t know how to talk to her on her own level. For instance, if she’s afraid of being ripped off, you’ll include more trust factors and social proof in your copy.

Prioritise the information.

After talking to, or interviewing, your customers, quizzing your sales team and gathering all the information you can find about what your customers really want, sort out what’s useful and what’s not.

It’s time to prioritise the most and least referenced messages you got from your customer interviews. If everyone is talking about it, it goes to the top of your list. If only one person mentioned it, it goes to the bottom of your list.

Quote her exact words.

You’ve now been to the coal face and dug out the problems your customer is actively seeking to solve. You know the vocabulary, sentences, and individual words that real customers and prospects use. So your copy will be unambiguous, clear, and the words you use will speak directly to your ideal customer. You can now write about your customer’s problem and how you solve it, and your writing will be clear and easy for prospective customers to understand. You also know the trigger points that made her think, I can’t put this problem off I need solutions to fix it. And you understand her state of awareness about the problem, and the emotional state and mindset she was in when she arrived at your website.

You now use this information to write in a way that talks directly to your prospect, use her language and her vocabulary, and consider her mindset about the job she wants to be done. You also know what she considers to be a successful outcome.

Use this information to talk about your service and the problem it solves in a way customers can understand and feel affinity with. Then the words on your website will speak directly to your ideal customer. You’ll explain things in a way she understands. 

You can now write about your service in a way customers will understand.

You now know the exact search terms she uses and the solutions she seeks for her specific problem. And you know her state of awareness, mindset, and the baggage she brings with her when she lands on your web page.

You can now write your website copy about the exact problem she faces, using the exact words, terms, phrases, and vocabulary she uses, and include information that eliminates the fears and hesitations you know are preventing her from buying.

You’ve got all you need to make your website into a real client winner.


  • Ask open-ended questions to find the job she wants doing.
  • Get into her mindset and understand her emotional state.
  • Note the words, terms, phrases, and vocabulary she uses to talk about her problem.
  • Find the event or situation that triggered her to stop procrastinating and seek a solution.
  • Write your marketing message around your newfound insight into what your customer wants. Use the words she uses, to make your message easy for her to understand.
  • Make sure you include a clear call to action. You must ask for the sale.
  • Some people customise the offer they make, or even rebuild their complete business model based on the insights they’ve gained from this voice of customer research.

If you want to learn more about voice of customer research read this book.

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