I've learned many great lessons from customers I've been privileged to serve through the years. There's one long-time customer, however, who especially stands out in my mind. This gentleman was the consummate Dutch Trader and he ran a highly successful international import-export flower business. I can still hear Dik saying to me with great conviction: "What I think, it does not matter. It is only what my customers think that matters." He is absolutely right.
If you want to know what your customers think, here's a novel concept: Ask them! The better your questions, the more clear and useful the answers you receive will be. But the point is to ask them out of a burning desire to learn what they are thinking, with the purpose of serving them even better. As my good friend John Spence states: "Intent is everything. Technique is nothing." Customers absolutely can tell when you are sincere.
An amazing thing then happens; current customers will tell you what they like, what they don't, what they care most about and how you can improve what you do for them. To listen, understand, adapt and then deliver are the essential elements of extreme customer focus. Failure to engage customers in this way constitutes guessing and produces mediocre performance at best, but leads to the fast track out of business at worst.
Do you know what your customers are thinking, or if you are even on their minds at all? There's no time like the present to go find out.