Listen to what your customer is telling you. This will give you a very good indication of what they want and need, and the problems they encounter.
Let us start with what they want. I remember when I was running my own business I wanted to manufacture what I thought the client wanted. This was a big mistake. Their needs may be completely different and not necessarily what you think they want. So ask them, listen and react.
When your client complains you have various ways in which to respond. In many cases you may feel, or convince yourself, that the client is unreasonable or is in the wrong. But the harsh reality is: the client complained so deal with it. Listen to the details of the complaint, there may be a deep underlying message in it all. Other clients may also have the same problem. By listening, evaluating, investigating and reacting you could save your business. One complaint may represent the complaints of many others. Investigate.
Your client is a very important source of information. Before you embark on research programmes, start with your client. Listen to them. They can quickly tell you whether the product is not technically sound, the price is out of line (they always say that, but do not ignore the statement), or the service is atrocious.
If you do not hear the clients making comments or complains, ask them. You may not like the answer, but at least you know how they feel. They may be reluctant to pick up the phone, but if you ask them (and listen to their answer) they could give you a valuable insight into your business.
The next group to listen to is your staff. We all know we have the moaners and it is for you to “filter” the information. But there are others who will give you their opinion about the business, the product or the manufacturing process. They deal with their environment all the time; they know what is happening in the factory, reps deals with clients, the receptionist listens to callers all day and the debtor’s clerk experiences the computer problems. Your staff are your eyes and ears out there, so use them.
The last group (of many others we should deal with) is your advisors. This ranges from your accountant to your lawyer. Why are some entrepreneurs so stubborn and follow their own direction against the advice of those who are supposed to know better? Wise men listen to good advice and so should entrepreneurs.
It is time to hear what is happening around you. Listen carefully. Someone is sending you a message.
Article written by Gerrie van Biljon – Executive Director Business Partners Limited.