The Power of Customer Input: It Doesn’t Have to be All Good

I am an ardent believer in providing feedback to companies I purchase from.  I tweet about the amazing, personalized, almost-like-opening-a-gift experiences with shoe retailer M.Gemi or stationer Felix Doolittle.  On the flip side, I also do not hesitate to call an online pet supply store to let them know that their warehouse team actually has to tape the bottom of the box before handing off to the shipper.  As a consumer, and regardless of the purchase size, I want the companies I do business with to know (and feel strongly that they do know) about the fantastic experiences as well as the opportunities for improvement.  If we, as consumers, don’t share our experiences, they don’t know what they don’t know.

In our work, most of the client organizations we work with are B2B and sell products and services to companies ranging from large enterprises to small and medium-sized businesses.  In the customer advisory board meetings that we run and during board member calls, we hear feedback that ranges from incredibly positive to not so glowing.  Certainly, the services these organizations purchase are far more expensive than a lovely pair of shoes or 48 cans of cat food.  But what remains the same is that feedback and constructive input are required for companies to change, be competitive and remain at the front of their customer’s minds.

“What they don’t know, they don’t know” holds true in the B2B world as well. B2B businesses that hold customer advisory boards hope that their customers will use the Board session to provide candid and constructive feedback. It is the leadership of a company that must find ways to open the business to customer input and in turn respond to that input. How do you ensure that you are putting your business out there to gather input? Consider the following questions:

  • Do you have systems in place to market test; challenge and assess your assumptions?
  • Are there pathways for customers to provide input into new products and service development?
  • Do you have leadership measurements that support and even require interaction with your customers to gather input and respond to client recommendations in a timely manner?

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