Why don’t we know as much about our customers as our friends?

When we started Klaviyo earlier this year, a big motivation was to help companies get closer to their customers (and I mean that in the non-creepiest way possible). I’ve worked at some great companies both in terms of the people and how they were helping people. But one thing that bothered me was how difficult it was to answer simple questions about those customers — questions whose answers would really help provide them with a better experience.

For instance, say someone signs up for a trial of our software and I want to reach out and thank them for giving us a try and ask if there’s anything I can help with. Where do I go to see what they’ve already done inside our app? Or how about how many times they’ve logged in or when was the last time they logged in? Or maybe did they read that drip email we sent them with tips a day after they signed up?

For every company I’ve been at, the answer was one of two things. Either, we’d built our own internal system to surface some of this information (but never all of it — and boy were those systems ugly to use and look at). That was the best case scenario. The other situation was you just didn’t know and went in blind.

Thankfully, those companies had some amazing people who were masters of getting on the phone and just figuring out things as they went. Even I got pretty good at flying by the seat of my pants. But with the rise of social networks, it’s kind of weird that I know more about “the kid who went to my high school, but I haven’t seen in five years” than someone who is paying me money to solve their business problems.

Every time I think about this, I laugh. I could list a bunch of ridiculous comparisons and I’m sure you could too, but that’s not that interesting. The real question is why don’t I know as much about my customers as I do about my friends? There are a few reasons I can think of, but for this post I’m going to focus on one:

Sharing information on social networks is explicit, but customers sharing information with companies is implicit. When I post a picture or talk to you, I know exactly what I’m doing and I want you to see my picture or listen to what I’m saying. But when I use your app, purchase something from you or call your support line, my primary objective isn’t sharing, it’s getting something done. And because it’s not the first priority, our systems and processes aren’t geared to record it and act on it.

But not using that information is bad for customers and businesses.

She doesn’t just want a glass of water, she wants you to feel thirsty. Help your customers by not just solving individual problems, but understanding where they’re coming from.

It reminds me of a scene from White Men Can’t Jump where Woody Harrelson’s girlfriend tells him she’s thirsty so he gets her a glass of water, which she promptly throws against the wall. “If I’m thirsty, I don’t want you to bring me a glass of water. I want you to sympathize” (link to audio, it’s the second clip down). I’m not saying, “don’t get your customers a glass of water.” You should. That’s probably why they’re calling you.

But you should also think about what they’re implicitly saying through their actions because at some point you’ll want to know why they’re behaving a certain way (e.g. leaving to go to your competitor) and this information will tell you.

So now what? Klaviyo is working on this problem of taking the implicit information customers share with you and turn it into something actionable. We create individual profiles for each of your customers so you can understand where they’re coming from. If you’re interested in learning more, check us out.

If you liked this post, you should follow us on Twitter. We blog and tweet about how to increase customer happiness (and your success) by bringing you and your customers closer together.

 

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