I love asking my clients this question. In most cases for all the talk about growth, strategy, customer intimacy, customer relationship, marketing, and service, most entrepreneurs don’t speak to customers at all. In fact many avoid it till it becomes absolutely essential. The question I get asked is – what is there to speak? It sends me in a tail spin before I gather myself and ask them again: How many customers would you like to be speaking to this week? They give numbers – 10 / 20 / 200 – mostly random numbers – but what’s wrong! Everything started with somebody’s dream – isn’t it?
The importance of meeting customers (both existing and potential) is an important activity for the CEO of a company. It requires the entrepreneur in our case (since we deal with small and medium entrepreneurs) to step outside the office or be on skype / gtalk / hangout / video conferencing (if customers are not geographically reachable) at least 50% of the time. This is because, based on my experience companies where the CEO / Entrepreneur / Owner spends half of their time meeting customers, the businesses seem to be doing better than most others.
Especially scientists / technologists / researchers who are looking to commercialize their creations should learn to do this more often. These people spend inordinate amount of time at their offices and labs and keep wondering why customers don’t seem to be buy such an obviously relevant and useful product? Assumptions, especially about customers, are a big mistake that entrepreneurs make – in fact I think we should call it a sin!
So, don’t wait for us to meet so that I can ask you this question – ask it of yourself! Even if you are an individual this same question applies. Ask and ensure you spend enough time (at least 50%) interfacing with your customers. It will change the way your business (individually and as an enterprise) responds.
Think about it!