It might seem obvious, but it bears noting: To fully understand your business, you need to understand your end customer. If you don’t understand your customers’ wants and needs, you can’t get your product or service to them effectively. To fully understand, it’s important to listen to your customer. Which, again, might seem obvious. But many companies miss a crucial step in the listening process—it’s the actual listening part. Have you been listening? Here are some thoughts about how to do it.
Remember that not all information comes from actual dialog. Sometimes your customers’ opinions can manifest in their actions. For instance, are your customers steady? If you keep tabs on loyal customers, do you know why they stay? Similarly, if previously loyal customers suddenly leave, do you know why?
One way to gather that information is through your own employees, who are your front line. When a customer engages with one of your employees, you have an avenue to directly discover what they like about your product or service. Talk to your customers at every touch point, and take action on the feedback they provide. This, in turn, will enhance their overall experience. And, more than that, it can deepen the relationship—which often helps customers become more loyal.
Likewise, when previously loyal customers disappear, create a system to check in with them. Find out what prompted the change and whether there is anything you can do to win them back. And no matter what, even if they won’t return to your business, take in the information they give you and learn from it.
If your business has an online presence (whether it’s a standard website or simply on a social media site), be sure to include a place for customer feedback and create a strategy to regularly monitor it. Yes, often the only people who will comment are the ones who have negative things to say. But don’t make the mistake of simply dismissing this important information. If you show your customers that you are willing to try to repair a problem or change your offering, they are more likely to stay as customers.
In the big picture, once you start truly hearing your customers and responding to their needs, you will find more ways to improve—you’ll likely be able to innovate in areas you hadn’t previously explored. And that could lead to unprecedented results.
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