3 Ways to Listen to Your Customers: Part 1

listen photoI thought it would be fun to do a series of articles on ways to listen to your customers in order to gather feedback and improvements. I think most entrepreneurs and small business people understand the importance of getting feedback from our customers, but inevitably we run into three challenges – expense, time, and understanding how. This week, I will introduce you to a three-prong approach that will help you gather great feedback from your customers without spending a lot of time or money. But before we move into the how, let’s talk about the why.

There are some marketing experts that don’t think you should listen to your customers at all. Their feeling is that most customers don’t know what they want or what would get them to shop with you more. It is their opinion that by asking them, you are wasting your time and might miss out on more important “game-changing” innovations. Though these experts might partially be right, they are also the type of marketers that think only they have the “great” ideas (and they are more than willing to offer you their consulting services at a premium price).

Don’t get me wrong. There is some truth to what these guys are saying. Your customers’ observations will typically be more focused on your day-to-day operations. But that’s okay. It’s your job to watch your larger industry and to be vigilant about looking for ideas that could potentially improve you business in meaningful ways. But you might be surprised by what your customers come up with.

I have one other caution for you before look at the three ways to listen – beware of fancy and often costly solutions. There are a number of marketing and research firms out there that would love to sell you their products. They are great at what they do and can give you all sorts of amazing tools to help you measure everything you can possibly imagine. However, you might be surprised by the depth of information you can gather by being creative.

In tomorrow’s post, I will introduce you a customer research method I have called LAW and we will take a close look at the first part of the method – listening.

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