As a business owner, you probably spend most of your time in the “business owner mindset.” Every decision you make is designed to improve business and make your company more successful. Success, however, only happens if you can take care of your customers, and with that in mind, it pays to be able to think like customers so that you can really deliver on what they want, and therefore increase your sales.

Consider scenarios that would lead them to you

To think like a customer, try thinking about different types of scenarios that would lead a person to your business. What problems would one have that your product or service would solve? How might a person get into the situation in which that problem arises? What need does your product or service fill? Why would a person have that need? The more of these types of questions you can answer, the better you can begin to empathize with customers and step into their shoes.

Ask what led them to you

Beyond pondering why customers might choose to come to you to meet their needs, try actually asking them. If they come to your physical place of business, simply have conversations. Friendliness is one reason people like small businesses to begin with, so turn on the charm and get to know about your customers. The more people you talk to, the better idea you will have about your market. When it comes to online sales, encourage ratings, reviews, and other types of feedback. Ask them to tell you why they came to you.

Use surveys and feedback forms

You can use surveys and/or feedback forms whether customers are coming into your store or visiting your website. If they buy in person, ask them if you can email or text them a survey, or you can even have paper copies available at the checkout counter and ask if they can take a moment to fill it out. You can also have forms available for leaving feedback, such as a comment card that can go in a receptacle for anonymous feedback. Of course, surveys and feedback forms can be offered online, as well.

These tools can give you a direct line into what customers are thinking about when they do business with you. While not all customer experiences are the same, you can get general ideas about their mindsets.

Really listen to customers

Don't just collect feedback from customers out of habit. Actually listen to what they are saying and evaluate your performance to see if you are meeting expectations. See what you can do to exceed them or improve in other ways. Use what you learn to make your products and services even more inviting.

Show the customer that you are listening

When your customers do communicate with you, it can be helpful to show that you are listening to them. In an article on improving sales, GrahamComm's John Graham suggests trying something called a "rewind review."1

As he explains, "You might say, 'I want to be sure I understand what you’re telling me, so let me put in my own words. Correct me if I get it wrong.' This not only will help get it right, but it sends the message that you’re a serious listener."

Analyze the data

Perhaps nothing can tell you more about your customer base as a whole than data. According to Inc., businesses should be collecting data that includes contact info, user experiences, their level of decision-making power, how they discovered your business, why people leave, and buying behavior, among other things.2

According to Econsultancy, there are several ways you can use data to increase sales.3 You can analyze old sales data to figure which sales tactics have worked best. If you collect data about different customer segments (geographic location, age, gender, marital status, and other factors) you can refine your messaging by testing which message produces the best results for each customer segment. This segmented data also can help you create case studies to illustrate to potential customers what you're able to achieve. The more you can use your data, the closer you can get to delivering on what customers want.

For a business, customers are everything. They are what keeps you going, and they are whom you must always serve. If you can gain more insights into how they think and use that information to improve your offerings, you are likely to get more sales as a result.