What do your customers think of you? What sort of things do they say about your company? And by that I mean what is it you hear them saying when you personally talk to them? Scratching your head now, trying to think of the last time you actually talked to one of your customers? Scary eh – but it happens to all of us.
It’s common for a business to grow to such a size that you’re suddenly too busy sorting out staff, systems, problems and other day-to-day stuff to actually get out of your office and interact with those very customers who have helped grow your business to the success that it is. Sometimes your talent may see you promoted within your company – away from the sales position you so excelled at, to one where you no longer see those customers you so loved engaging with.
If you lose touch with those customers, you’ll soon lose touch with why it is you do what you do. What products or services those customers are looking for from you. You see, it’s hard to figure that stuff out when you’re stuck in a big white office far away from the action. You’re relying on second-hand information – and that’s if it’s the right information in the first place. To really succeed, you need to get in the minds of your customers – and that’s easiest to do after engaging with them.
Take an afternoon every now and then to hang out on the sales floor or go round with sales reps to your key customers.
See what they think of those very systems you spend so many hours in your office implementing. Ask them how your systems and processes work for them; is there a better way of doing things? One insurance company I know of asked this of their customers – they responded that they did a lot of work/sales on the weekend, but then had to wait until the Monday to put the order through for finance, since the insurance company only opened Mon-Fri. As a result, the insurance company started with skeleton staff on the weekend, to cater to those companies that did a roaring trade on weekends. You might find that different opening days or longer hours, a new invoicing system, or an alternative form of delivery may make life a lot easier for your customer, reflecting positively on you and your brand. It also makes life easier for your sales reps, who may have been hearing this for years but been unable to get management to act on it.
Ask them what practical help you could give to make things easier. Is your way of labeling products easy for your interior design clients to understand and remember? Are your order forms simple to fill out? Does your customer prefer to order over the phone rather than by email? All customers are busy; do what you can to simplify things for them.
Get honest, unfiltered feedback on what they think of your products or services. Have they ever wished you’d do some product that the market is currently lacking? Do they want you to bring an old favourite back? Are they happy with the quality of your goods? Speaking to customers is a great way to innovate or clarify what it is you should be doing.
No company is a success without customers. No matter how big your company gets, do.not.forget.your.customers. Make an effort to get out there and talk to them. And don’t worry about feeling like you’re intruding – most people love to give feedback and are more than happy to do so, particularly when when it’s going to lead to making their life easier, through new systems, processes, products or services. The second most important part of this process? Putting their feedback into action and following through with improving things at your end.
If you need help with how to approach your customers and the questions to ask, or need to discern what their feedback means for your operations, get in touch – always happy to business coach or consult. email@example.com