Let me ask you a question. How often did you ask your clients or customers what they want? How do you ask them? What do you do with the information they provide you? How do you learn as an organisation?
During a holiday that I took earlier this year I read a book by Ryan Levesque called “Ask. The counter intuitive online formula to discover exactly what your customers want to buy… Creating mass of raving fans… And take any business to the next level.”
Not the shortest, snappiest book title. However, this book makes for an extremely good and informative read. I recommend it for anyone who works with e-commerce sites or is selling anything online. I think, if memory serves me correctly, I came to discover this book after another episode of the in now infamous and Entrepreneur on Fire podcast by John Lee Dumas.
Now, perhaps you can relate to this. When I was growing up I was told that children should be seen and not heard. and then again, it seems ironic that I was also told, ask and you shall receive. Which version am I supposed to believe? In hindsight, I think that second one ought to have been adjusted slightly to, “Ask politely and you just might receive – if you’re lucky, there’s a fair wind and the sun is shining.”
Either way, the point here is, if you don’t ask, you don’t know. I think the world is full of businesses that do their experience ‘to’ their customers, rather than ‘for’ their customers. And, it’s not that difficult to set about having some kind of dialogue with your customers and even your competitors’ customers about what their needs are.
There are businesses in the UK that invite customers to coffee mornings (tea is also available), in order to get feedback about the new store layout, staff friendliness and their ability to resolve questions and help. Other businesses I have worked with in the past carry out observed focus group exercises. First of all you recruit a number of people to a panel. It works really well when that group comprises not only customers of your business, but also of your competitors. The research is often carried out for you by researchers. The panel are either asked questions and encouraged to give their views and feedback, or, in another model, they’re asked to spend time in a room with your products and to talk amongst themselves about their experiences, whilst you or the researchers watch on.
Nowadays a model that I see being used increasingly is to gather customers’ input and views via some form of survey once they have interacted with your business or used your product. The trick is to work out how best to understand their different need states and how you measure up to their expectations at each stage. My work with the software firm ResponseTek, revolves around this kind of customer feedback.
I’m likely to cover in a future post the fact that asking for your customers/clients input and feedback is only ever as good as what you do with it as a business and also, how you set about communicating any action you have taken back to the customers that gave you the suggestions for improvement in the first place.
One final area I want to touch on today concerns how you go about getting help with areas of your business that you and your team may not master. I believe it is really important for businesses to support one another just as people need to. The entrepreneurs and business owners I come into contact with often rave about their support network. After all, it can be a very lonely place at the top – right?!
So, with that in mind, I think it is essential for your own personal growth and that of your business to ‘ask’ people for support, guidance, advice and recommendations. Both in terms of best practice and maybe the questions to ask of your staff and your customers as well. Why not ask for suggestions in terms of how best to address key areas of concern you may have in your operations. Someone, somewhere has been there before you and faced the same challenges as you face now. You just need to find them. Do that by ‘asking’. It never did anyone any harm – and you will likely strike meaningful and useful connections along the way. Be sure to pick up a copy of the book Ask too.
Perhaps today’s article has nudged you into taking a little action? Are you finding this series of any use? Please leave a comment below and do join the discussion on Twitter. Remember to use the hashtag: #CHA30DayChallenge
Thanks for stopping by and see you for more tomorrow friends!
p.s. if you like what you’re reading pop your email address in the box to the right of the blog and I’ll send you a weekly digest of the posts – simples!