Whether it’s PR or software development, let customers be your guide

Your business wouldn’t exist without its customers, and spending some time listening to them discuss their day-to-day challenges can reveal new ways you can help them.

Recently, I listened to a webinar sponsored by Workfront and Content Marketing Institute, featuring Jay Acunzo, vice president of platform for NextView Ventures, among others. The webinar, “5 Ways Content Marketers Can Gain More Time for Creativity,” featured a number of tips and ideas for writers and content creators to get back to our roots, including listening to customers. It’s a simple piece of advice, but its value in any enterprise can’t be understated.

Here are three ways regular, casual conversations with customers can help you stand out as a better vendor or service provider:

  1. Understand customers' challenges

Spending some time picking a customer’s brain gives you insight into what’s making his job harder and preventing him from reaching his goals. When a customer says something like, “we’re having a hard time closing deals” or “our IT performance is holding us back,” your ears should perk up. Talk to your customers as strategic business partners and you’ll learn new ways you can help them.

  1. Identify new strategies

After a client meets a goal or – it’s OK to admit it – a product or service isn’t working as intended, you have a chance to recommend new strategies. Have a conversation about what’s not working, whether the original goal is still the right one to pursue, or how best to build on a win. Ask questions and listen closely to the answers, and you’ll keep the relationship dynamic and positive.

  1. Provide additional support

Your customers work with you because you offer something they can’t build or do for themselves. Once they’re familiar and happy with your core products or services, show them what else you can do to help them get their companies moving in the right direction.