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Understanding your customers
Understanding your customers

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Understanding your customers


This free course provides you with a short introduction to understanding customers. The course underlines the relevance of understanding customers as individuals, members of society and members of organisations. It clarifies some key marketing concepts and terminology and highlights some differences between consumer and business-to-business marketing. The course is suitable for a variety of learners, including small business owners and those working in small businesses with limited access to specialists, as well as marketing professionals and those thinking about pursuing a course of study to become a marketing professional.

Why is it important to understand customers? Here are three good reasons:

  • Whether we work in commercial businesses, charities, government organisations, or even if we are not in paid work at all, we all have customers. Even someone who wants your time or attention can be classed as a customer – so the category covers a wide range of people. Understanding their behaviour can make us more effective in keeping them satisfied, with possible benefits for us in return.
  • We all act as customers ourselves, so studying theories of customer behaviour can help us understand ourselves and make better choices in the future.
  • We can gain valuable insights into culture, history, psychology and social issues by looking at how people behave as customers, particularly what they buy and how they use what they buy.

Understanding customer behaviour is essential to effective marketing. As a business philosophy, marketing puts customers at the centre of an organisation’s strategy. It sees customer satisfaction and the long-term repeat business that should come from it as the route to organisational success. Modern marketing’s development since the early twentieth century has demonstrated an increased focus on customers. Current practice in marketing emphasises the need to see customers as active partners, not just passive recipients

Course content

The course is in three sessions:

  • Session 1: Why should you care about your customers?
  • Session 2: Understanding customer behaviour
  • Session 3: Customers in organisations

This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course B206 Understanding customers [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] which is ideal for those working in marketing, aiming to work in marketing, wanting to gain insights for their own business, or those who simply want to understand more about their own consumer behaviour.