Dig into your Data
Google Analytics and Google Insights are also both excellent (and free) tools that can help you analyze and digest the most important information about your customers, such as location and demographic data. Google Insights provides you with valuable information regarding your customers and how they came to your site. Regarding golf courses, some of the most valuable data you can get from GI is the general locations of where customers are coming from. It does this by tracking Google users every time they get directions to the course. It can also show you the areas harvesting the most actionable customers, rather than just people that visited your website. While Google Insights doesn’t tell you customer-specific data, it is a great tool to help you focus your marketing efforts.
Google Analytics is another powerful tool for insights. While GA can be used for all kinds of data mining, it’s a great tool to help you understand your customers and what they want. You can find very granular geographical data that can help determine where your customers are coming from. You can also get information on the keywords your customers use to find you when searching online, and what pages on your site are the biggest influencers in purchase decisions. Analytics has helped many of our clients find potential customer “hotspots” that were previously ignored or considered “too far” of a drive from their golf course.
Ask your customers what they think
Your customers may be more willing than you think to help you in your quest to understand them. They want to be heard as much as you want to hear them. Conducting a customer satisfaction survey can make your customers feel valued while also allowing you to gain valuable insights. But don't ask for feedback if you're not prepared to make changes. When you do make improvements, tell your customers what you have done because of their feedback.
Using Survey Monkey or one of the other online survey providers can help you get all the right answers to all the right questions. Providing online questions gives your customers the ability to respond anonymously and promotes honest responses. Within a survey, you can ask your customers what neighborhoods they live in, what they like/don’t like about your facility and anything else you feel would come in handy later. This can give you enough data to establish your strengths and weaknesses in the customer’s eyes, which gives you a better understanding of how to approach them with your marketing message.
Facebook is another great and underutilized tool for gathering customer information. When used properly, Facebook can provide nearly endless amounts of information regarding your customers. With Facebook, you can see the city your customers reside, their interests (besides golf), what types of posts they interact with, and much more. All this data can be used to establish a generalized overview of who your target customer is, helping you be a smarter and more effective course operator.
Talk to Your Employees
Face to face interaction is probably the most reliable way to truly understand what your course customers need and want from you, and no one gets more face time with them than your own employees. Training your customers to listen and understand your clients when they have comments or complaints in real time is extremely valuable. Customers are quick to provide feedback when something has just happened and its fresh in there mind, but are much less likely to recall it later for questionnaires, or may simply feel it's not worth mentioning. But as the first point of contact, employees are an excellent search for first-hand customer knowledge.
Training employees to ask, “Where are you from?”, “What did you think of the course?”, or “What would you like to see us do differently?” can help gain insight on each customer as an individual. Asking these types of question not only helps paint the picture of who the customer is, they also help get to know the customer on a personal level, building a strong relationship.
With as much data as is at your disposal today, there is no excuse for guessing what your customers need anymore. There are so many free tools available to you it’s easier than ever to find out what your customers want, where they’re from, and just about any other detail, a golf course operator would need to make an educated decision.