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“Listen To Your Customers!”


     There is no single-sentence piece of advice,  guideline, or rule of thumb in all of business that’s more important. Your employees may be your greatest asset, but your customers are the reason your business lives, and the reason you get up out of bed and go to work every day.

     You are the boss.  That means — among 37 million other things you need to tend to — that, first and foremost, you must be putting yourself in the right place at the right time every day to be able to LISTEN to (absorb and process, not just hear!) your customers.

     Find out  what your customers REALLY think of your name, logo, themeline, reputation, service, branding, advertising, marketing, community involvement, pricing, packaging, cleanliness, vehicles, experiences with your products / services / employees / website . . . 

     You must ALWAYS  be asking for customer  opinions,  advice,  input,  suggestions, contacts, referrals, resources, networks … and then putting that information to work. Take it with a grain of salt if you like, but don’t blow it off or gloss over it!

I once knew a boss  who did all this listening, who actually hired professional facilitators and researchers to run opinion surveys and focus discussion groups, who gathered whole file cabinets full of customer information, and let it collect dust right up until the day he was forced to close his doors because he never heeded customer advice to upgrade his inventory of services

. . . and he never followed up  on the referrals and contacts his customers provided. It was just easier to do business the old way, using old systems, old inventory, old-thinking employees, and old contacts. It became a business too old for its own good.

     Customer Focus Groups  (targeted discussion sessions moderated by a professional presenter and interviewer) can be the most useful customer opinion and information-gathering tool you can use. Odds are, though, like professional business writing, it’s almost always (like probably 99.9% of the time) best to hire an outside professional to get the job done.

     Why?  One reason is that objectivity is critical to meaningful feedback. Two is that your customers will speak much more freely with an “authorized outsider” than they will with you and/or people in your organization.

     Outside professionals bring fresh perspectives and objectivity both to the table. And these are particularly valuable attributes when it comes time to interpret the findings. They are paid for what they do, Because they are not put on salary, they are really not “beholden” to you beyond the immediate assignment.

     You can usually count on  more honest and direct conclusions and hypotheses.

     Focus group format, facilitation, agenda, and especially the words that are used  can make a huge difference in what you learn… as different as the replies generated by asking someone WHY he or she was late, vs. asking HOW can being late in the future be avoided?

     Bottom Line?  How can you provide customer service or manage customer relations if you don’t know exactly and with certainty what your CUSTOMERS consider to be “service” and “relations”? It could mean something completely different than what you think.


Call or Email: 302.933.0116 or Hal@Businessworks.US  (“FOCUS GROUPS” in the subject line) 

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Input always welcome “Blog” in subject line or comment below. Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals! God Bless You! Make it a GREAT Day! Hal

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