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 beyond that 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 was the Customer. A key to retaining customers is assessing their requirements. In gathering these requirements, there will be many similarities to interviewing employees or management within your own organization. Five methods you might want to consider are:  

The important thing is to pick the methods that work best for you. When it comes to customer service, most small business owners primarily rely on the use of 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 and constantly make sure have addressed their needs and offer suggestions on how we can help them accomplish their goals. Once the new customer has engaged with us, we touch base with them a few times a year to make sure we are continuing to address their needs, making note of any issues they might be having. We also document customer complaints and address them as soon as possible. Doing the right thing for our customers, employees, and our 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.”