What do your customers want?
There’s a simple solution to this question: all you have to do is ask them (and listen to what they have to say).
A lot of businesses assume they know what their customers really want. Making assumptions can lead you and your business down two (sometimes connected) paths: the incorrect path and the complacent path. Making wrong assumptions and/or being complacent about what products and services you offer will alienate existing and potential customers.
Many complacent retailers continue to buy in product lines that they’ve already been selling for years. Their formula rarely changes unless a new product launches and generates demand.
Likewise, service providers sell the same services with the same terms in the same way they’ve been doing since they started—with the exception of large companies who package their services based on market research.
If you know something is tried and true, there’s no reason to abandon it for the sake of being “new”. However, wearing blinkers and keeping to your status quo may prevent you from giving your customers the best service possible (and, in return, you lose out on sales).
The upshot is this: you might offer the best products and services in the world, but if you don’t include what people actually want they’ll end up buying from your competitors.
The problem you have to work around is that most people in a retail situation won’t speak up and ask for something they don’t see on your shelves. Or, you might receive only one or two requests and decide there’s not enough demand to order in that new product. This could be a big mistake and it could cost you long term.
Service providers again suffer from the same problem. Take this as an example: say you get your daily lunch from your local cafe—did you know that often these cafes also do boardroom catering? If there wasn’t a reason to, they probably never told you and you probably never asked.
You may be expected to anticipate customer demand, but obviously you can’t be a mind reader. So what do you do to make sure you’re satisfying your customer base?
Again, the solution is just to ASK THEM. It’s that simple.
The best way to do this is to survey customers. You can do this in a variety of ways that will guarantee a greater response rate. For example, when they make a sale retailers can hand out their survey with the newly purchased product, while service providers can post surveys out with postage paid return address envelopes. At Digital Lamb, we find that one of the best ways to get responses is to do an online survey—and we help many of our customers design and set up online surveys for their businesses.
How many surveys you conduct and how often you conduct them is up to the individual business. The important thing to do is make sure that your survey(s) are sufficient to gauge trends for whatever information you’re seeking. Keep your surveys short and to the point.
If you’re unsure, a good rule of thumb is to send out your surveys four times a year. Ask different questions each time and keep it to a maximum of ten questions. Regular surveys means that you have an ongoing and up to date idea of what your customers really want from you.