We’re heading into difficult economic waters.  People are more careful with their money.

So it’s more prudent than ever to protect your customer base, keeping them in the fold while locking out your competition.

But many businesses fall into a major trap which costs them dearly.

Complacency.  It’s the number one reason clients leave a business.

Complacency happens when you stop being curious and interested as to what’s really happening with your clients and your market place in general.  In short you stop listening – really listening to your clients and even feedback from your employees.

Ultimately complacency is a lack of caring.

Some of the consequences are:

  • You lose your competitive edge.
  • You begin to regularly tolerate mediocre performance.
  • Your competition gets stronger and faster than you, gaining market share without you even realizing, until it is too late.
  • You not only lose your best performers, because they are not being challenged, but you are also unable to attract new talent.
  • You lose customers, money and eventually your business.

Remember, your clients buy because they believe you can solve specific issues for them – giving them outcomes they want.

The key is to know exactly what they want and then give it to them.

Ultimately it comes down to I don’t care how much you know until I know how much you care.

So how do you avoid falling into this trap?

It all starts with your mindset and a decision.  Think of it as walking a mile in their shoes.

You must be curious about what’s happening with your clients.  What issues they’re facing.  Not just the ones you deal with.

If you want to be seen as the leader in your field your customers must really feel you understand them.  Their fears, frustrations as well as their aspirations.

You must learn to speak their language.

Do this by regularly asking your clients what they want from you.  What they like, dislike, where you could you better, what else you could be that you haven’t thought of.

Expand your thinking.

Say you provide solutions at a specific technical level, what is the greater impact?  What are your clients trying to avoid or achieve at a higher level?  Is that something you could add value to?

All of which begs the question.  How do you accomplish this?

Interview your best clients!

And by that I mean sit down with them and talk to them at length.

Set the frame by asking them to tell you the truth, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Your mindset must be one of curiosity.  Be the dumbest person in the room.  Ask probing questions.  Listen between the lines for what they’re really saying.  Nuances matter.

Record the conversation so you don’t miss anything and can go over it later.

Now I can hear some of you saying, “We do lots of on line customer surveys”.

While these have their place if you’re trying to survey hundreds or thousands of people, trust me when I say they will NEVER give you the depth of information a live interview will produce.

One more caveat.  Don’t be tempted to use junior staff to conduct these interviews.  As the business leader, conduct them yourself.  You’re having a peer to peer conversation.  And it’s just that, a conversation.  While you have a series of questions, you never use them as an interrogation.

We’ve conducted hundreds of interviews when working with long term clients.  I’ve interviewed MD’s of fortune 500 organisations, Principals of Australia’s largest private schools, even the Deans of Universities.

What stands out is in every case these people have thanked me for the interview – even though you’d think it should be the other way round.  They’re giving me their time.  But by being asked for their opinion in an intelligent conversation they feel valued by their suppliers.  Which goes a long way to keeping them loyal.

And you get crucial information which helps you to ring fence them from your competition.

Finally, if you know you need to do this but are worried about how to go about it and the responses you’ll get from your clients, reach out to us.

We’ve guided all our clients through this process and they’ve been positively surprised at the responses and market intelligence they get from their clients which has resulted in more business.

Call Rashid on 0414 913 334.

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