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Strategic Planning: Talk to Your Customers

During the strategic planning process, gathering feedback from a variety of sources results in an objective, comprehensive picture of who your customers are, what they want, and what they value. However, collecting the information is only half of the equation. Ensure that everyone in the company knows what customers are thinking by sharing customer feedback throughout the organization.

By spreading the news, everyone will start to make better, more informed decisions. For your strategic plan, you can use the information you collected over the years to make calculated decisions that have broader implications.

When all else fails, ask your customers why they buy from you. Ask the following questions of your top customers:

  • What are we doing that’s great? What’s working?

  • What isn’t working and needs improvement?

  • What else would you like to see from our company? What else can we do to make your life easier?

  • If we ceased to exist, what would you do? What would you be giving up?

  • If a friend was in search of (fill in your type of company), would you refer us? Why or why not?

Sam Walton of Wal-Mart reportedly spent five days every month interacting with customers in his stores. He also spent every Wednesday morning having coffee with his delivery teams to see what they were hearing from store employees and observing from customers.

This amount of dedicated time kept him close to and in touch with his customers’ needs and wants. Although his customer attention was the only reason for Wal-Mart’s runaway success, it surely played a big part.

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