Call me traditional, call me crazy, call me stark raving bonkers but with over 20 years in this marketing game I still think the most important thing in helping you grow your business is listening to your customers.
“SHE SAID WHAT??!!???” you may scream.
That’s right. Not the data, not the reports and journal findings. The honest truth is I think you can learn so much more than facts and figures, just by talking, and more importantly listening, to your customers.
You see the data won’t tell you how your customers are feeling when you’ve overcooked the starter, or you won’t repair something under guarantee. The data won’t tell you who didn’t come back because they couldn’t find what they were looking for.
There are so many ways you can talk to your customers to find out more. Over the next few weeks I have some great stories coming up about Focus Groups and Surveys I’ve used that have had an enormous impact on sales. That’s correct, and here is my thinking
We listened to our customers,
Acted on their guidance,
I understand though that these kinds of exercises are difficult. Human nature dictates that we don’t like to be told if we are doing something wrong. Sometimes you can be doing so well it can be easy to think that nothing can go wrong, after all why fix something that isn’t broken.
But as we move into an era where the customer holds all the power, where alternatives are plenty and loyalty is falling surely the only way we can get our customers to love us is by involving them so directly in the choices we make they will never want to go elsewhere.
Remember the downfall of Woolworths? They went from 800 stores to complete shutdown in just 41 days. They thought THEY knew what was best for their customers, and focussed on increasing the toys, clothes and music areas in the shops and alienated those customers who didn’t have children or weren’t interested in those areas of their shops. Woolworths customers voted with their feet, and weekly customer numbers dropped from 7million a week to just 4.5 million a week.
If only they’d involved their customers in their business. Many companies make the classic mistake of thinking they are more popular than they are and that customers will do business with them, no matter what. So many are now falling by the wayside as they don’t have a loyal fan base and they’re not keeping up with the times … or even thinking about the way the future is developing in communication and technology, and how that will affect them.
Over the next couple few weeks I’ve got some real life examples of when I’ve used Focus Groups and Surveys to make commercial decisions that have resulted in incredible increases in sales. No secrets, just listening to how the customers felt about the companies I was working with, and integrating their views into the future of the business.