Stay In Touch With Your Customers
In the early stages of building a business, the owner is heavily involved with selling and/or customer service and, therefore, in constant contact with customers. The owner has a good feel for what they want and their reactions to and perceptions of how you conduct business. As the business grows, the owner becomes less involved with hands-on operations and sales and loses the pulse of the market and the customer.
It is important for top management to stay very much in touch with customers. Finding the time can be difficult, but it might be one of the single most important activities an owner or manager can partake in.
One way of remaining close to the customer is to schedule specific times to ride with sales people, spend time on the retail floor or take calls in customer service. While it might sound like unproductive time, the amount of valuable information that can be obtained can be significant and, in some cases, critical to the success of the business.
A key is to be disciplined about staying involved with the customer. Avoid jumping in and doing it and then forgetting about it. Customers should also feel like they can talk directly to someone in top management. An open door policy for customers is an invitation for customers to let their feelings be known and for you to fix whatever problem they need fixed.
Being a customer-driven company means staying in close touch with customers. Too many owners and managers become almost arrogant about not wanting to deal directly with customers. Their attitude reflects their lack of understanding about how high performance companies achieve that status.
Start today with a customer contact program that puts you and other top management personnel in consistent and constant touch with your customer base. Develop a specific plan for getting these people out of their offices and into customer locations, on a phone with customers or on a retail floor interacting and dealing with customers.