What’s the answer to the question: how often do you talk to your clients or customers? Is it:
- All the time
- Once a week or two
If it’s occasionally or never, you’re missing out on some of the most valuable information you can get for your organization.
If it’s all the time or a couple of times per month, are you asking them the right questions? Are you getting the valuable information you need to lift your organization as high in performance as it can be?
This past week, I had the privilege of reaching out to a couple of my client’s customers to learn as much as I can from them. I use the word privilege because I believe that clients and customers are a business’s greatest assets; without them, the company wouldn’t exist. (The same holds true for members and donors at nonprofits, who supply the revenues for programs.) By allowing me to speak to their customers, my client is trusting me with their current (and future) brand value!
I had a specific goal in mind so my questions were very focused on achieving those goals. But I also had a chance to connect with them, one to one, as people, and to learn about what they do and, by doing so, more about my client’s brand and reputation. To prepare for the conversations, I wrote out exactly what I wanted to say, so that I wasn’t fumbling as we spoke and so that I could get the information I need.
What’s so magical about having a conversation with a client or customer – as opposed to sending out a survey or questionnaire, for example – is that you not only get the answers to your questions – you get so much more. Conversations happen, people meander in their thoughts and associations. So that, before you know if, you’re talking about something totally different and, perhaps, even more relevant or revealing than the first answer they gave you.
Here’s a great example: when I worked at Pitney Bowes, which makes various lines of software and hardware for office equipment, and went out on client calls, I would travel with a sales persona to visit various important clients. We went to one university campus and talked to the person responsible for sending mail to various alumni/graduates. During our conversation, I asked if there was anything that we (as a company) could do to make them happier. After the client hesitated for a moment, he said yes: change the colors of the print to their school colors, rather than the colors we were using.
This one comment was incredibly revealing to me. Working in marketing, I had never given much thought to the colors we used in our printers, including the red postal ink that we were required to use (by the postal service). It opened up an entirely new world of possibilities to me in the area of how we could help school campuses across the country by helping them to use their school colors effectively in their mailings. I would never have seen this for myself had I not gone out to meet with clients – and had I stuck to my original questions during our conversation. Sometimes, just asking your client what you can do for them to make their experience even better is the best way of finding out how you can elevate your business to the next level of success.
Not sure how to best speak to your clients or customers, to learn about this golden nugget for your business? Let’s talk about it – contact me!