Customers, lovely customers

You have some lovely customers. You have spent a certain amount ‘buying’ these customers. Yes you have spent some money as you have bought and given out some business cards. You have bought a website and domain name. You might have attended a networking event.
There are plenty of people out there who will tell you how much easier and more cost effective it is to keep your existing customers and sell to them again, than it is to do all that hard work again getting some new customers. Don’t waste your money by buying your customers only to ‘throw them away’ after a single sale.
Two years ago, a study by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) revealed that four out of five executives believed that companies were losing sales every year because of a failure to engage customers. Furthermore, 80 percent suggested that increased customer engagement would translate into improved customer loyalty, and 75 percent said it would translate into increased revenue and profits.
How are you communicating with your customers? Are you listening to what they say? What have you done as a result of what they said? Customers are increasingly sophisticated. Where as in the past you might tell a few people if you got bad service or a poor product the internet has turned this into thousands. A quick message on Twitter or Facebook could quickly go to hundreds if not thousands of people.
Yes you can ask the questions where you will get praise for things done well by you and your team. Although nice and can be useful when you want to boost the team, these are not the responses that you really need.
To improve and be able to see what they are looking for those other comments. What does not get done right first time. How you cope when it has gone all wrong on you. Also important are the suggestions of what you might do better. You can always decide to ignore the ideas if they take you too far away from what you think that you do.
In the Do you Listen to your Customers survey of 2010 over 50% of businesses that had carried out some sort of consultation with their customers said that their turn over and their profits had increased as a result.
So what are you waiting for? Ask your customers how you are doing. You might be surprised what they say, both good and bad.

Embrace the difficult questions and welcome the disappointing answers.
This blog first appeared as a guest blog on the Business Vitamins site in 2011.

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