unnamed-4Customer relationships are the foundation for any company in need of growth and profit. After all, 78 percent of consumers  do not complete a transaction if they’ve received poor service. But cultivating these relationships, and giving customers want they want, can be tricky.

In order to set your business apart from competitors, you need to develop a partnership with your customers. Among many factors, you need to know precisely what they’re looking for, what makes them happy, what’s likely to turn them off and why your service or product is right for them.

For many local business owners, the challenge is how to uncover this type of in-depth knowledge about your customers quickly and efficiently. Here are a few tips and tricks for how to learn more about your customers.

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1. Communicating is key

First, talk to your customers. This one simple, but often overlooked. People respond better to open dialogue, because it helps form the relationship. Whether it’s in person, on the phone or electronically, never forget the importance of a personal connection. Having direct conversations with clients or potential clients shows that you have a strong interest in providing better service. The great thing about using a marketing automation solution, like Signpost, is that you’re able to track all interactions with customers, including phone calls, so you’re always up to date on what happened during your last interaction or when you need to follow up again.

2. Harness the power of feedback

Getting direct feedback from your customers is a surefire way to see what customers want, allowing you to build an even better business. After receiving feedback, don’t forget to respond in a friendly, upbeat manner and your conversations will give you the sense of who your customers are. It’s especially important that you pay attention to negative feedback and do your best to respond appropriately and fix concerns. The more customers tell you, the more you can accurately target them in your marketing. For that extra push, employ a marketing automation system like Signpost, which can prompt your customers to give you feedback and conveniently collect and forward it to the business owner.

3. Understand the current landscape

Staying abreast of your competitive landscape might help you tune into what customers want. This can be an opportunity to create a custom solution that could make for more satisfied clients and help you rise above the noise. Think about what these companies offer that you don’t and where you show up on search results by comparison. Services that can help you stand out from the crowd, like Signpost, improve your business’s listings on important sites like Google+, Facebook, and Yelp. Use these social profiles to promote your competitive advantages.

4. Use customer data software

Using customer relationship management (CRM) software to consolidate customer data helps you build new business and strengthen old relationships through your local marketing efforts. CRMs, like Signpost, capture and analyze customer data and use that information for personalized offers in emails and text messages, as well as other future remarketing.

In order to maintain a successful local business, it’s important to demonstrate to customers that you not only have what they need, but that you are invested in a partnership. This high level of personalization continues to remain an important factor in local marketing techniques. Customers will reward you by remaining loyal and by generating positive word of mouth about your company to their network of friends, families and business contacts.