KnowYourCustomer 2.0

KnowYourCustomer 2.0

I want to share the one theme which cropped up in most of my meetings with colleagues from sales, support, clients, accountants and mentees, that one recurring theme was to truly get to know and understand your customers which results in you the business owner, sales relationship manager and even the product manager being successful in your duties.

I'll explain below how this theme played out in various scenarios I was involved in and a few tips for each-

KYC2.0 for Sales peeps

I have the privilege as a product manager at QuickBooks in spending a lot of time with my colleagues in different functions. I also love to listen in to sales and customer care calls but also focus on the soft skills my colleagues display when talking to a potential customer or an existing one. I dedicate my Fridays to this exercise and only open my diary for my internal team meetings for 3hrs!

After each call I make a note of the tone of the conversation, if it’s a sales based call, I ask myself, what can I recall about the customer?, do I know enough about the customer and their business?, what do they do and how do they carry out their duties today?. If It's a call with a potential accountant partner, I want to know more, I want to know what type of clients do they serve, their industries, which services do they provide? Do they typically do the bookkeeping in house or do they rely on their clients to do it, if so how many clients do they have in each bucket. Other key questions such as when typically the year ends are for their clients and how many clients do they have with a y/e in March, December etc.

''Short term pain but long term gain''

As a relationship manager, this type of information is like gold dust and can be applied to most customer facing roles. It's very easy at times to neglect this or not conduct it in the correct manner, think about it, as a sales rep, you want to make as many calls as possible (we call it spray and pray in Call Of Duty) in order to stand the best chance of making a number of smaller sales or you have a target to call X number of people a day. Whilst this solves for the short term, it doesn't allow you to build a relationship with your customer, you have to ask yourself is bringing only 10-20% of your customers business enough?, the very best sales people I've met have a plan to bring 100% of their customer business over to them. Spending the few extra minutes on a call may bring you short term pain but can result in long term gain. Observe how an IFA deals with their clients, every year before the tax year, they know with 95% accuracy that X number of people will return to them to fill up their ISA allowance, it's because of the time and energy a good IFA invests in their clients which enables them to become that trusted advisor for the long term. IFAs are also super sensitive to recurring fees, any cancellations and cool-offs directly hit their pocket so its in their interest to build long lasting relationships -> friendships, with their clients.


  • Build Personas!, yes be super scrappy if you like just capture key points relating to your customer so you revisit these personas as you will find trends which you can easily apply to the next client which fits a similar persona.

  • Ask open questions, build relationships with your customers and understand them as people (soft skills) as well as the hard facts about them.

  • Utilise your CRM, update it regularly and record the info you found out, create diary entries based on the info you have i.e. This customer has 50 clients year ends on the 31/12, I need to get in touch and build a plan around migrating these 50 whilst being mindful of the customers time and training needs.

  • Know Your Product - ensure your product / marketing teams provide you with a short pitch around why your product is perfect for XYZ verticals and with key features for every release. You also need to pull up your sleeves and play with the product so you can confidently demo and talk about specific features which will help seal the deal.

  • Essential Reading

Delight your customers by Steve Curtin (for customer care / sales managers)


KYC2.0 for my Product Colleagues

At Intuit, our founder Scott Cook developed the concept of 'Follow me homes'. This enables us Intuit Jedi's to observe our customers actions, their habits, their interactions and body language way beyond any questionnaire can offer. It's another form of 'Knowing your customer'. It's a brilliant method to developing features and products but it still comes as a surprise to many product managers outside of Intuit.

Data driven development is key, no doubt about that but you still need to  explain what the data shows. For example, if you download the SONOS speakers app to pair up your speakers for the first time, data will show that the first use flow actually takes a fair amount of time to complete which could be seen as negative as the first use of any new app/product should be quick with learning provided on the go. Observing someone go through the first use however will show that the set up process is actually pretty amazing. They anticipate my questions with each click with relevant information, there is a logical flow present and it delivers on what it's trying to do. I can guarantee the PM for SONOS first use knows their customers well, they probably tested with various people from rapid tech adopters to customers who need hand holding through the steps.

I had more ' aha' moments than I've had chocolates over Christmas

I recently worked on an integration with QBO and a tax application. In order for me to make this integration delightful, useful but different enough to motivate users to switch to us, I knew I had to go way beyond just importing a Trial Balance!

By observing accountants using the software of their choice and timing them to complete a simple set of accounts, I had more aha moments than I've had chocolates over Christmas. It was only by truly observing other accountants in their flow from TB to filing, I was able to notice tiny certain trends which were not obvious to me as they were so small and immaterial and something I've done hundreds of times hence it became a set expected behaviour, but when added together, becomes time consuming.


  • Always recruit users from different backgrounds, size of business, locations and experience with software. I always ensure that I have users who use competitor software present in testing as their habits, pain points, wants and the way they do things will differ.

  • Build personas, this time it will help your developers and bring them along in the journey you've taken with the tester.

  • Use awesome software such as Balsamiq, Typeform and to recruit, build beautiful prototypes and test quickly.

  • Sssshhhhhh just watch them go through a workflow with their current software, time them (phones have timers), look at their body language when they carry out their tasks. Now knit all these elements together in a customer journey and plot against delight and how they feel.

  • Essential reading/viewing:

Charlie Munger - The Psychology of human misjudgement - possibly the best 1hr you'll spend in your life as a Product Manager

Noriaki Kano - The Kano model for categorising customer requirements

Dana Chisnell - 3 approaches to delight

Simon Sinek - 'Start with why' - when communicating your product to stakeholders.


KYC2.0 for Small Business Owners

Recently a client opened a new restaurant in London, his major concerns were typical, foot-fall, cash flow and ensuring they have enough stock in place to serve their customers. As a restaurateur you would also want to focus on knowing your customers better, what do customers think of your service, what other items do people want in the restaurant want?. This is sometimes lost on a busy business owner. Think about all the things you have to juggle to get your business up and running, knowing your customers' unfortunately at times isn't seen as a priority for many business owners.

Tesco's spends millions in trying to do this, they have brilliant tools in place such as the club card to watch your shopping habits to give you relevant discounts to entice you to spend more.

Many smaller restaurants also do this, ever seen that small piece of paper with a short survey which entitles you to a discount for completing a survey, or on the back of your burger king receipt, if you go online and complete a short survey you get a burger for a discounted price.


  • Start tracking your customers, use tools such as to collect basic details of your customers or use a small business software such as QuickBooks to track sales and products for your customers. You can also create surveys on type form and send out a link to the survey or complete surveys with customers on the spot.

  • Utilise technology and apps such as 'yelp', top table', don't bury your head in the sand if you get negative feedback (People with fixed mind-set) see it as an opportunity to learn and listen to your customers (growth mind-set)

  • Get to know what your customers think, I recently went to a Brazilian steak house and they simply had a small note pad and pencil on each table where people can leave their thoughts.

  • Speak to them! And get your staff to ask questions post dinner/lunch around how was the food? , if there was anything else they wished for with their meal, again be genuine when asking. Don't do a 'Nandos' and ask 'How is everything?' to only pick up that dam table number thing and walk away! (I still love the food but be genuine people)

  • Essential Reading:

Mind-set - by Dr Carol S Dweck.


Knowing your customer' is in my opinion crucial in the 3 different roles above, the sales person needs to know their customer in order to provide the best possible advice and product to match their customer’s needs, the Product manager should live by data driven information but also in equal measure truly understanding their users with their behaviour, body language and pain points. For small businesses understanding your customers can be the difference between being surviving and growing or business closure.

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