Ivana Taylor brings up a thoughtful discussion today on her blog Strategy Stew. In her post entitled What Are Your Customers Telling You she talks about the importance of truly listening to what customers are telling us – both in word, action and deed.
If we really listen then we shouldn't be surprised if they move on to our competition.
When I worked in the optical field I would share with franchisees that if a customer comes in asking for a refund – they need to truly listen to the reason (both what is said and what isn't being said). Think about it – if you spend good money to buy a pair of glasses it is because you NEED glasses. Right? Glasses aren't an impulse buy. So if the customer wants a refund – we've clearly not met their expectations. That being said, they are still going to need a pair of glasses.
Similar with our customers – they NEED our services. If they go on to the competition, we've clearly not listened to what their true needs are.
The same is true if you are an employee.
Have you ever been fired?
No. You haven't.
We don't get fired by employers or customers – People fire themselves.
There are always. Even if the reason is downsizing – there are always signs if we look for them.
The key is to PAY ATTENTION.
Ivana offers a listing of really good suggestions to make sure you are meeting the needs of your customers. If you loose a customer to the competition – treat it as an education – an opportunity to touch base with the rest of your customers to see how you are doing. Give your customers the opportunity to grade your performance.
Even if you haven't lost a customer – once a year take the time to sit down with your customers and ask open ended questions about their goals and how they feel you are doing as a vendor/partner helping them achieve those goals.
Deborah Chaddock Brown