Friday, September 01, 2006

marching orders



The only way to succeed is to tune into your audience, not just expect them to tune into you. It's arrogant to think that you're so good, people should just flock and flow toward you. It won't happen that way.

I speak from my own experience and from the insight of more successful people.

How did you hook up with your friends, lovers, husband or wife? Did you do all the talking? Or did you listen to them?

The old saying still applies: talk a lot, you bore people. Listen a lot, they think you're fascinating!

Many blogs have tons of good information, but almost never get any comments. Why? One reason is they never ask readers for their opinion. They never ask questions, like "So, what do YOU think about all this?" They simply preach. They may preach good, but do they know what their audience thinks about their sermons? Nope. They just assume or guess or don't even care.

Companies can follow this advice as well as bloggers.

Most companies HATE customer feedback. They fear or ignore complaints. They suck, and everybody knows it. Yet, they still seek to be leaders in their industry. Listen: industry leaders are customer servants, not domineering jerks.

CEO: you take your marching orders from your customers, if you want to succeed.

Ask your front line workers, sales staff, store cashiers what people are saying about your products and those of competitors. Survey your customers, ask for feedback in every single thing you do, every promotion, every registration form, every communication.

Feedback can go so far as to enable customers to actually design and promote your products. Customer input is the key to the future.

"Command & Control" is being replaced by "Converse & Comply".

Establish candid conversations with customers, then comply with, or conform to, their input. Do what they say they wish you would do. Encourage bold, brash, harsh critique.

Find out what your customers really want, then give them exactly that. Then try to determine what they WILL want later, anticipate it, and try to be there already, before your competitors get there.

Your organizational Vision must be based on proven, documented, researched customer needs and interests. Vision cannot be based on your own proclivities, insight, or desire. It must be formulated with customer realities in mind, not your Business As Usual slop. Fire the mediocres and hire innovators, as Tom Peters says. Go wild. Get real.

Connect and Conquer!

March to the beat of a different drummer. March to the beat of the Customer Drum!

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