“I continue to be struck by how few leaders make it a strategic priority to talk to their customers.”
Dave Power, President and CEO and author of “The Curve Ahead”
When was the last time you sat down, had an open and frank discussion with a customer, and asked how things were going and what problems they were having – not related to your services?
If you’re looking for the next big thing, or just how to improve your current product or service, there’s a good chance that your customers have at least some, if not most, of the answers, writes Dave Power. For the past few years Dave has been President and CEO at the Perkins School for the Blind, but he spent his early career in the private sector as a CEO and working in the private equity space. And he’s passionate about the subject of Top Line Growth, how to beat the “S” Curve and staying ahead of the market.
Unfortunately, many of us have what he calls “customer amnesia”, resting on our laurels and definitely not taking the time to talk intentionally with our customers about their issues and challenges, beyond the scope of our work with them.
What about you? Do you suffer from Customer Amnesia?
Here’s a few questions to consider that might help with your own diagnosis:
- When was the last time you reached out to a customer to just see how they were doing?
- Do you know the number one issue that’s holding your customer back from growing or being profitable?
- Are you tracking the number of customer contacts you make every week? Are your employees?
- Are you using a KPI like Net Promoter Score (NPS) to track how you’re performing with your customers?
- Are you sitting down weekly with your team and asking, “What have we learned from the market this week?”
If the answer is “I don’t know” or “not enough” or just plain “No” you might be infected.
But have no fear! Here’s three simple steps you can take now that will help to cure this dreaded and sometimes fatal disease. Plus they’re great prework to get you and your team ready for Fall Planning Season!
1) Make a list – of your top 10 or 15 customers
Shoot them an email about connecting. Then, follow up with a phone call (never just rely on email to get in touch with people today – too much gets overlooked in the deluge or ends up in SPAM).
2) Schedule 20 minutes with them on the phone – some time this quarter
There’s still six weeks left before October 1st. You could also do this face to face but often I find that it’s easier for many of us to have a call to start. If you end up having a very rich and productive conversation and want more time, you can then schedule a meeting. You may only get a hold of half of them but that’s okay…you can get the others in October.
Now, the important step –
3) Have a solid “How are you? What’s going on?” conversation with them.
NOTE: Not about YOUR business – about theirs! Some of the questions that Dave suggests are:
- What are your top priorities these days?
- What are you the most worried about?
- How could you double or just dramatically increase the size of your business?
- What would it look like?
- Are there any other ways we could help you?
Listen with empathy and look for opportunities. You’re not here to problem-solve – yet. But definitely take notes and when you’ve had several conversations, sit down, read through the data and start looking for patterns.
You never know what insights you’ll find. And if you like these questions, we’ve got more proven business best practices that will help your business grow! Sign up for our upcoming “Strategic Execution Workshop” with CEO and author Shannon Susko.
You’ll get business tools that have helped thousands of small and mid-market companies to success AND get a jump start on your Plan for 2019! Here’s the link for more information and to register.
With over 30 years of experience, Cheryl Beth partners with small and mid-market CEO’s and C-level executives to create more valuable and sustainable companies. She has led strategic change initiatives, provided business advisory and coaching services to hundreds of small and mid-market companies and focused on providing a return on investment to every CEO with whom she has worked. Questions about how you can scale your business? Connect with Cheryl Beth on LinkedIn and drop her a message, she’s happy to offer some guidance.