Articles Tagged ‘Focus groups’

Does Anyone Care What Customers Think, Wal-Mart Better Listen

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

What’s a customer to do?

What could be more fun than asking your customers what you’re doing wrong? Probably a million things.

It isn’t that much fun and that’s probably why most businesses don’t ask their customers what they think. If you have the guts and can listen you will learn amazing things about how your company is “perceived.” In fact you’ll probably be able to create you company’s focus for the next 5 years.

Building and keeping a business is hard work; it’s not so hard if you pay attention to your customers. You must be able to to stay close to your customers, seek their opinions, and be courageous enough to change based on what they think.

This is the epitome of customer service.

Although companies should last for centuries few do, GE is one of those that has managed to survive. How have they done it? According to Jack Welch, by listening to their customers and changing.

What should a business listen for? What would make them different and how to use this differentiation to build a competitive advantage.

The bottom line, live and breathe with your customers. Find out and what turns them on and what turns them off.

I heard last week that Wal-Mart recently finished a survey with their customers. According to a recent survey by Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) analysts, 60% of consumers no longer think that prices at Walmart (NYSE:WMT) stores are lower than the competition. An amazing piece of information for a company who has built their brand on “everyday low prices.” As they say, “I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall” when that data was presented.

What do you do you do when your customer ”rocks” the very core of your brand? You could ignore the data and chalk it up to a bunch of grouchy customers or you can begin rebuilding your company and choose a new course of action.

I have been doing studies like this for years. I find it very exciting and energizing; I feel like I’m helping good customers become even better. My experience leads me to believe that only good businesses conduct these studies; the rest don’t care so why bother to spend the money if you’re not going to change?

Who should do your study? An outsider who understands your industry and can turn close lipped customers into “Chatty Cathys.” The person should design the questions to make the interviewee comfortable and then lead them to more uncomfortable questions. The idea is to search for a point of differentiation and use it to build a competitive advantage. Bottom line,
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