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Assessing Customer Requirements And the Art of Listening

by James Canada
How satisfied are your customers? I mean, how satisfied are they really? Because it’s not just enough to give them exactly what they ask for. You need to go above and beyond--and tap into their needs and concerns to truly excite them.
Previously in this column, I spoke of Critical Success Factors that will help your company succeed, and one of those factors is the Customer. A key to retaining customers is assessing their requirements. In gathering these requirements, you will find many similarities to interviewing employees or management within your own organization. Five methods you might want to consider are:
- Informal interviews
- Formal interviews
- Surveys
- Focused group interviews
- Customer complaint analysis
The important thing is to pick the methods that work best for you.
When it comes to gauging customer service, most small business owners primarily rely on informal interviews, surveys, and customer complaints. Prior to writing a proposal to serve a new customer, we use informal interviews to gather requirements and expectations; constantly make sure we have addressed their needs; and offer suggestions on how we can help them accomplish their goals.
Once a new customer has engaged with us, we touch base with them a few times a year to ensure we are continuing to address their needs, making note of any issues they might be experiencing. We also document customer complaints and address them as soon as possible. Doing the right thing for our customers, employees, and company remains our core philosophy of operation.
As Tom Peters, author of Thriving on Chaos, said: “Listening to customers must become everyone’s business. With most competition moving ever faster, the race will go to these who listen (and respond) most intently.” 
James H. Canada is managing partner/CEO for Alliance Technologies LLC, ITEN mentor and author of “Corporate to Entrepreneur: Strategies for Success.” Contact Jim at james.canada@alliancetechnologiesllc.com, 636-734-2337 or     www.alliancetechnologiesllc.com.

Submitted 325 days ago
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