Listen To Your Customers, Stay in Business

If you've been reading the news this week, you've probably noticed that in light of terrible sales, JC Penney's new CEO resigned after his idea to simplify pricing and remove coupons from JC Penney's pricing structure backfired (more here).

The Internet is chock-full of lessons-learned articles, and the lesson that stands out most to me is "Know Your Customers, and Give Them What They Want." These folks are on to something.


Listening is important. Photo: John Morton.
OK, you say.

I won't be like JC Penney. I'll know my customers and give them what they want.

How?

The best way to tackle this problem is the direct way - by asking them.

Here are a few things you can try:

1) Ask questions on Facebook - open ended or you can use Facebook's questions functionality to do a multiple choice question. Facebook is a two-way street - you can post your content, but you can also use it to gather new content from your fans.

2) Ask questions on your other social channels, too - are you on Twitter, Pinterest, or Google+? Use those platforms to say "What do you think of this?" or "What do you want to see next?"

3) Survey your customers on email. Ask them how they'd like to hear from you, how often, and what about. Ask them what would make their customer service dreams come true.

4) Script some questions for your call center to ask. Are there common reasons that people call that could be resolved another way to everyone's satisfaction? Is there a product they wish you sold? Why do they shop with you and not the competition?

5) If you don't have product reviews on your web site, add them. They can be critical to helping your customers decide to buy, and to setting expectations appropriately. Also, when customers help each other, they build community and return to your site more. Reviews also make great content for, you guessed it, Facebook.

Next:

1) Listen!

2) Listen some more!

Then:

Collect all this feedback and look for themes. You'll probably be able to find several common things that customers think you can do better, and lots of things they like that you should continue doing. Implement this feedback where it makes sense, and you'll be on the way to happier, more profitable customers who appreciate that you took the time to get to know them and what they want.

What are you doing to make your customers' dreams come true? Please share.

Need help getting to know your customers and what they want? Let me know. I can help.

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