How Much Time Are You Spending With Your Customers?

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We have been noticing how everyone in organizations these days can check everyone else’s calendar/ availability.  It might be contributing to the meeting mania that seems to be mushrooming; “number of meetings” booked has emerged as the new status symbol.  Having a meeting to plan another meeting is now trumped by having a meeting to plan the meeting that is aimed at planning a meeting!  But, we recently had one refreshing deviation from the paralysis from analysis method of avoiding a responsible, take-a-stand decision.
 
We were trying to schedule an hour phone conversation with a very senior leader of a large manufacturing company.  His on-the-ball assistant looked at the leader’s calendar for his availability at a requested time and said, “I know he wants to get some time with you, but he has that entire morning blocked out to meet with a group of customers.  He wants to get their participation in planning a new product[…] Continue…

Does Your Customer Listening Process Provide Easy Warning?

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Sitting by the window on the top floor of a high-rise Dallas hotel provides an amazing panoramic view.  Weather becomes up close and personal.   We watched a major rain storm crawl across the distant plains and deliver a hard punch to downtown Dallas streets.  It sent pedestrians scurrying for cover.  Cars slowed to a snail’s pace; streets gorged with torrents quickly looked more like a river than a freeway.
 
Customers are in the crosshairs of a perfect storm.  Their vivid memories of the last hard hitting, long lasting recession has left them anxious about the future and cautious about investing in service that does not have obvious value.  The shift from face-to-face and ear-to-ear service to automated self-service, often without an exit or access to a person for help has left them frustrated by convenience gone awry.  And, the power of social media has provided customers with the tool to deliver a downpour of blame as they flood[…] Continue…

How to Better Understand Your Customers

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What would he see or think if you brought in Dr. Indiana Jones to help you better understand your customers?  Or, better still, if Margaret Mead or Ruth Benedict was your customer anthropology coach?
 
At the core, anthropology is the study of humanity.  Social or cultural anthropologists seek to understand how a culture, tribe, family or clan link together through language, myths, mores, beliefs, rituals and symbols.  What is it that makes the Cochiti, Samoans, Curds, Navy Seals, Hell’s Angels, Hatfield’s or McCoy’s a linked clique beyond their common history or shared place?
 
Customers have many similarities; they also have major differences.  Their sense of sameness comes through a similar reading of signals and symbols with common interpretation.  Their differences lie in their varied reactions to the factors that make them alike.
 
We enjoy checking into a hotel via the front-desk, complete with its capacity[…] Continue…

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