DISCOVER WHAT CUSTOMERS LOVE: WE LISTEN AND ENVISION DELIGHT

Discover what customers love: Easy tips anyone can use

The Beatles told us we can’t buy it, and Johnny Lee has us looking for it in all the wrong places. Yet love makes the world go round, even the business world, built as it is on relationships. Selling often seems to hinge on finding the customer’s “pains,” but what if it were possible to take the opposite approach and find out what our customers would love?

In “What Clients Love, a Field Guide to Growing Your Business,” marketing guru Harry Beckwith advocates asking customers what they want. Then, he says, do that.

We can imagine what that would mean because people like our vendors and healthcare providers count us among their customers. So we brainstorm around this question: What delights me as a customer? Possible answers: A product that more than meets my needs; someone going above and beyond what I’ve come to expect; the shop that takes returns, no questions asked.

Now that we have the mindset, the question becomes how to gather the information from customers. Big companies use surveys and focus groups, but there is one cost-free way that organizations of any size can use and that is to listen.

We may not be able to learn about every client this way, but we can start with individuals: “Who are they? What do they care about? What would help them sleep better at night?”

There may be inexpensive ways to better meet customer needs or exceed their expectations: A followup contact to ask whether a product continues to perform well or whether there are any questions since that legal service or medical procedure come to mind.

As trust grows, we can ask questions like these: “How could we make this product help you even more?” or this: “How can we be better?”  Responding to customer ideas may or may not be costly in terms of time, money or other resources. We have to decide how to proceed.

These kinds of questions work equally well for the leader of a company, non-profit or government office as they do for an employee or a sales rep. Many of us face the more complex situation of having several “customer” groups: those our organization serves and those within our organization who look to us to get the job done, provide a paycheck or support others.

The “reach” is to then ask the big question: “What would you love for our organization to do for you? What small [or big] change would you love to see in this product or service?” An immediate thank you and an honest commitment to seeing what can be done may be all customers really expect from us even at this point. But what if we, once again, imagine? Only this time, we imagine being able to implement an idea that comes directly from a customer. We envision delight.

Chances are, the results will be something we can love, too, as clients come to see that we care about their experience, want to be better and can adapt. That makes us all “feel all right.”