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How many times have you asked your customers what they want when interacting with your business? Or, do you sit with your product team and come up with great new ideas that you implement and then announce, because the secrecy gives you an additional time edge over your competitors?

Is this the best way to go about things, or should you rather meet regularly with customers and “take the temperature” of your business dealings?

As serial entrepreneur Lisa Stone says, you should ask your customers what they want, rather than telling them.

Yes, there’s a good deal of advice around the issue of customers not knowing what they want and suggesting you should give them what they need rather than their expressed wants. But this still comes down to talking to your customers; without doing so you won’t be able to figure out what it is they need.

It certainly seems to me that many companies (especially the larger ones) operate on a principal of knowing what’s best for their customers, without any interaction.

How many of you groan at the thought of a new version of your computer’s operating system or main application suite? How about your favourite supermarket, medical aid, bank, etc., changing it’s ‘loyalty program’ rules?

And yet, have you ever had any contact from these companies about how you’re finding things? And I’m not talking about that annoying and, frankly, rather pointless NPS marketing system that everyone seems to use nowadays after each interaction, where you get an SMS asking you to rate them 1-10. NPS, used in this way, is a waste of time in my opinion but that’s a long topic for another day (let me know if you want me to do so by responding here).

You have to get out and speak with your customers, with customers of all sizes, old and new, and to do so regularly. By regularly, I don’t mean picking a few favourites and meeting with them each week or two, but interacting with a number of different customers each week.

Ask them these four basic questions (change the wording to suit your style/customer):

  • What are we doing well?
  • What are we doing badly?
  • What would you like us to do more of, or start doing?
  • What would you like us to do less of, or stop doing?

Obviously, there will always be more you can ask, but if you make a habit of always including these four, phrased in your own way, in your meetings you’ll be amazed at what you find out.

They might not express exactly what they need, as they might not yet recognise it, but you’ll certainly get a clear understanding of what’s good and not-so-good about dealing with your business and can then figure out how to improve – which might be a brand-new product or service. And, if you’re considering one, do a little market research with your customers to see what they think of the concept. Even let them test a prototype (most people love to be trusted in this way) so you can refine it before formal introduction.

Work with your customers and listen to what they say to constantly improve your levels of service and products. It’ll give you a great competitive advantage over the majority of businesses that don’t do this and make a huge difference to your success.

#BusinessFitness #Business #CompetitiveAdvantage #Customers #CustomerService #CustomerExperience #Growth #Loyalty #Marketing #Opportunity #Planning #Product #Service #Solutions #QOTW

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