I want to share a short excerpt from our latest ebook “Behavior Analytics: The Next Best Thing to Reading Your Customers’ Minds.” The ebook goes indepth into the importance of understanding your users actions, not just that they say, to build the best product or service. It covers how to use key behavioral components like cohorts, metrics, sessions, and funnels to understand engagement, conversion, retention, and more. You can download the free eBook here. Enjoy!

If you knew exactly what your users wanted, you could just give it to them. That would be easy. You’d enjoy a huge amount of success, and your profit margins would be enormous because you wouldn’t have wasted a dime on developing anything that your customers didn’t immediately love.

The catch is figuring out what customers truly want. Sure, you can conduct surveys and run focus groups, but the results might not be reliable. Here are three of the most common reasons why you shouldn’t always base decisions just on what users say.

  • People are emotional and likely to respond based on their current feelings, so when you ask them to complete a short survey after they’ve just waited twenty minutes for customer support, their answers will probably be more negative than at another time.
  • Most people aren’t good at imagining something new. Ask them if they’d like a new feature, and they probably won’t be able to imagine using it, and may even say they would hate it. That’s what customers told Facebook when it added the News Feed feature years ago. People even created groups where they vented about their dislike of News Feed, which ironically gained popularity because of the News Feed. With so much public pressure and criticism, Facebook had to make the decision to keep the new feature or abandon it. Facebook discussed changing News Feed—but when the company looked at usage data, it saw people were using Facebook more since the launch of News Feed and were becoming more engaged with their friends’ posts and activity. Facebook paid attention to the event data and ignored the naysayers. It kept the feature, which dramatically increased engagement and usage of Facebook.
  • Everybody wants to look good, even on an anonymous survey. If you want to know your customers’ habits, don’t waste time asking them. If there’s a possibility that one answer is “better” than another, they won’t tell you the truth. For example, in a recent British survey, almost 60 percent of respondents said they flossed regularly, but UK sales of floss indicate the true figure is more like 5 percent. So ask, if you’d like, but know that you’ll hear claims like, “Oh, no, I only spend about five minutes a week on Facebook. And never at work.”

To truly understand your users, don’t just listen to what they say. Turn off the sound and understand their actions. They’re interacting with your products and services without a sense of being observed, and their actions reliably reveal what they truly want, need, or don’t like. Interana’s behavioral analytics solution does just this; it provides the tools you need to understand how your customers behave and products are used. Interana takes away the complexity and the mystery of understanding exactly what users truly want, need, or don’t like – and it all starts with studying their actions in what’s called “event data.”

If you would like to continue reading the free ebook, download it here. If you would like to learn more about event data, I recently wrote a blog post explains it more.