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Listening to customers is the first step to knowing how to help them.

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Why listening matters

Listening to customers and understanding their problems are the first steps to knowing how to help them. We can create great marketing experiences and develop smart strategies, but none of it will have an impact if we aren’t listening to the folks we are trying to help. We need to understand their pain before we can alleviate it.

At Karat, we embody this by asking our customers questions. It is important to be humble (as marketers, most of us aren’t engineers), and acknowledge that we don’t always know where the pain points are. Even if we think we understand the problem, we need to check in with the customer: they will tell us everything we need to know.

How to reach customers

Karat’s customers have been involved in the development of our solutions for years, allowing us to build up a pool of trusted advisers. We also partner with our colleagues in sales and customer success to connect us with new people who are willing to share their experiences. Having a collaborative culture allows us to share valuable information like this across different teams.

Live events, when they can happen, are another great way to get talking to customers. We approach these as opportunities to listen to others as much as to promote ourselves, so we resist the urge to give elevator pitches. A real conversation is more valuable.

We reach out to a broad range of people and continue asking over time. Our customers’ pain points evolve based on their careers, technology, and the economy, so we keep asking!

Questions to ask

The goal is to encourage customers to share their stories. We might ask: What blocks are you trying to remove in your work? What are most of your team meetings about? Where do you feel stuck? You told me about X problem. How have you tried to fix that in the past?

For those less comfortable sharing personal experiences, we might steer the conversation towards safer topics like team goals and revenue. The important thing is to listen closely to identify their biggest problems (we call this honing our instinct for pain). Once we understand our customers’ obstacles, we can help to clear the way.

What next?

When we hear that enough folks are experiencing the same problems, we can map their needs to our primary positioning statement. This outlines: We do what for whom for why. For example, at Karat we interview software engineers for talent and engineering leaders so that they can hire the right people and build great products.

We believe a good statement should be clear and solve several of our audience’s problems. So, by freeing up engineers’ time, we make hiring possible and improve morale and burnout. By making hiring easier, we are also solving issues of access and diversity.

We also share feedback with our product development teams who can then make improvements to our solutions. Regular meetings help to maintain this culture of sharing and keep internal relationships strong.

As marketers, we believe our role is to grow the business, not just to promote it. By listening to our customers, understanding their pain, and building strong partnerships with sales and product teams, we can continuously improve the ways that Karat serves its community.