If you knew what your customer really wanted, how much easier would your job be?
If you are a Realtor and knew exactly what type of a house your client wanted, you could take them directly to houses of that type and make the sale quickly.
If you are a house builder and knew exactly what type of houses people wanted to buy, you would build those houses and make a lot of money.
If you are a movie producer and knew exactly what type of movies people wanted to see, you would create that movie and have the next blockbuster.
If you own a hotel and knew exactly what type of rooms your customers were interested in, you would modify your building to give them what they want and have high occupancy at all times.
Because knowing what your clients want (and need) is so important, organizations spend much time forecasting, doing market research, creating focus groups etc. The one thing many organizations forget to do is ASK THEIR CUSTOMERS!
Rather than trying to guess what would make them happy, why not ask them? Rather than trying to forecast what they want, why not ask them?
Some people might read this and think “we already do customer surveys so we are already doing this”. I’m not a big fan of surveys. It’s extremely difficult to get an accurate and honest read on people from predetermined questions. Rather, take the time to meet with some of your customers or, if you can’t do that, take the time to call them on the phone. Don’t assign this extremely valuable task to an entry level employee. Sometimes the person at the top must step out and take on this role themselves. Don’t have a list of 10 questions, rather, engage them in a conversation and with one or two open ended questions, start a conversation and LISTEN. Don’t try to steer the conversation in a certain direction. Let them take the conversation in any direction they want. If this leads to you learning what they want then GREAT. If it leads to them telling you what they were unhappy about then GREAT. It takes a great deal of patience and experience to do this in a way to truly understand what they want, what they need and what they are willing to pay for.
While you might think that you don’t have the time to do this yourself and it’s something someone else in your organization should do, I would counter that by doing this, it will allow you to progress your organization much quicker and in a much better direction than what you are currently doing.
There are many reasons a leader might have for not wanting to do this (no time, not efficient use of their time, others could/should do it) but one main reason people don’t do this is the fear of learning something they don’t want to know. They might find out that things aren’t perfect in their organization. They might find out there are weaknesses. They might find out things could be done better. While many are afraid of getting their feelings hurt (their underlings will filter the negatives so they don’t have to experience them) the truly successful will find this type of information is invaluable to them and their organization.
There are times when this technique wont work. If you are creating something that doesn’t currently exist, it’s difficult to get feedback when no one has experience in that area. However, very few of us are dealing with things so futuristic.
Take the time to speak with your customers, (key word there is “with” and not “to”) and you will learn a great deal
Have a great day!
PS Please take a moment to check out the book “11+10=1: How the Addition of 10 Principles in Life Turned 11 Players Into 1 Team” at http://lawrencefine.com/sales.php