I admit, this seems overly simple. To run any successful business it's a given we need to know what our customers want. But do we always know?
My answer is: “No we don't. "
We think we do. We hope we do. Or we never even think about it. We just assume we do. And if we don't really know, we risk focusing our resources on things our customers don't care about. That opens the door to more competition and fewer loyal customers.
Successful organizations DO know what their customers want. They ask them. And they keep asking them (because things change).
You need to have processes and systems in place to continuously connect with your customers. You need to constantly learn why they do business with you rather than your competition. What brings them back to you? And why did they select your company in the first place?
Of course, you also need to know what their problems are. What are they trying to accomplish or prevent by coming to you? And how do they want to be treated as they work with you? What experience are they looking for? What would make them happy as they do business with you?
Your employees are your best resource for discovering what your customers want. I know a lot of companies use consultants and survey companies to collect this information. But if you want the best results, have your employees do it. They can best communicate with customers because they have the best access. They already have (or should have) relationships with their customers so it should be easy. They're already in contact with them so it should be convenient.
Make it part of their job, part of their routine. Train, motivate and encourage them to have conversations with customers that result in your company knowing more about what your customers want. Help them get better at connecting with customers to learn why they do business with you. Do this and you'll be on your way to more loyal customers. I guarantee it!
Kevin Stirtz is the “Amazing Service Guy". He is a customer service speaker and trainer who helps companies increase revenue and profits by delivering Amazing Service. Kevin has been quoted in such major media as BusinessWeek, the Boston Globe, Smart Money and the Chicago Sun Times. Get a free copy of his Amazing Service Toolkit at http://amazingserviceguy.com