New Year's Resolutions

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Author Frank Geric

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This time of year, most of us undertake an initiative and resolve to do something in the New Year. Frequently it’s something like to lose weight, get in better shape, pay down debt or save more money. Likewise, many businesses are looking at 2012 planning and budgeting and planning initiatives for the upcoming year.

One of the things I’d like to challenge you with is getting to know your customers better. Among the things that I’d like for you to learn about your customers are:

  • What are their biggest challenges?
  • What keeps them awake at night?
  • What are the biggest opportunities in their market?
  • What are their biggest initiatives over the next 18 to 24 months?
  • What changes do they anticipate taking place in their market in the next year?
  • What new products do they plan on launching?
  • What products do they plan on discontinuing?
  • Are there any acquisitions anticipated?

Once you’ve garnered this information, you’ve earned the right to ask the following:

  • What do you like about our company?
  • What do you dislike about our company?
  • What would you like us to do to become an easier company with which to do business?
  • How do you derive value from our products?
  • How well do you know our offerings?
  • What value-added services do we offer that you are not utilizing? Why?
  • What innovations would you like to see in our products or services?

Ideally, by asking these questions, you’re getting a better idea of your customer’s requirements and understanding how you can better serve them. Use what your customers tell you as a roadmap to improve your organization.

When asking these questions:

Ask more than one person’s opinion so that you have an idea of how you are perceived throughout the organization. You may be championed by one person, but if that person leaves how will it impact your business?

Be patient! No one wants to sit and answer 20 questions. It may take you multiple visits to acquire all of this information.

Be prepared to be challenged. You may not like everything that you hear.

Don’t be defensive. Listen and take notes.

Make your organization’s New Year’s resolution one that helps your customers as well as your organization.

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