Do you start many of your planning meetings with this question: “What do our customers need to know?”
I suggest a different approach. I think it will transform your strategic planning process, your customer experience and the success of your message if you use it.
Start your planning meetings with this:
What concerns do our customers have? What problems do our customers want to solve? What questions are our customers asking?
Because, dear friends, if you aren’t giving your customers what they really want, you will lose them quickly.
I re-learned this lesson last week, as I spent the week in Orlando with my dear friend and Miles & Co. Company Extravert, Nancy Schneider. We had a huge week of planning something big for the company in 2015. A planner by nature, I was ready with spreadsheets and templates and calendars – oh my.
But Nancy, ever so kindly (she’s a Southerner by birth), reminded me to start with something else.
She asked me to start with the customer. Start with their questions. Start with their concerns. Start with their problems.
It revolutionized our planning process. As a result, though we still need spreadsheets and template and calendars, at the heart of this project is you, our customer.
Back in January, hundreds of you responded to a little survey of our readers, and so we are starting there. You’ll see more feedback opportunities from us later this year and in 2015, too.
Where should you start?
Here are some simple methods for discovering what your customers want to know:
1. Use a short survey to ask them. It should just take a few minutes and be easy to read and complete. Ask ranking questions, but also leave room for some open-ended comments.
2. Ask the person who answers your phones: What are the top 3 questions you get when you answer the phone every day?
3. Ask your customers in person. If you are the owner and you don’t regularly connect with your customers, schedule time this week to wander the showroom, randomly call a few customers, or send an email or two, asking your customers about their questions and concerns.
4. Use comment cards. Ask questions in a way that get to the heart of the concerns, questions, and problems of the customer.
Of course this makes you responsible. Once you know what their concerns, questions, and problems are, you are obliged to do something about it. But it is in answering their questions and solving their problems, that they become customers for life.
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