3 Questions Leaders Need to Repeatedly Ask


Beginning my career in retail and spending most of my days in customer-facing situations, has given me not just an ear, but also a heart for the customer. I try, whether writing, creating a product or marketing something, to always look through their eyes and try to discover how I can best serve them, meet their needs and also draw their attention, and loyalty, to what is being offered.

Over the years I’ve found that many employees don’t think this way and I need, as their leader, to mentor them to this customer-centric thinking. I’ve found that three questions help develop their sensitivity:

  1. How much time in a week do you spend with the customer?
  2. What are they telling you about us, our products and our competition?
  3. What is the cost of acquiring a new customer compared to keeping an existing customer?

Gathering this information does several things.

  • It helps your people get an understanding of the people whom they serve. They can hear for themselves not only what customers need, but their perspectives, motivations and what they really want from your company and in your products.
  • It’s creates a new and different reference point for dialog within the team. Nothing compares to our own, personal experience. Yes, data is great, we all use it, but data only takes us so far. I’d much rather hear from an associate who has spent hours cultivating relationships with customers and gained valuable experience as well as insight.
  • It thrills the customer. People like to give you input and advise. When we genuinely listen to customers they feel valued and when you continue to talk to them, they become raving fans as they feel part of your extended team.

I challenge you, if you’re not doing this, to try it for 90-days. Push yourself and your associates to talk with real, live customers. Ask them good questions, stop selling and seek to understand what they want. Let them help you devise new products and challenge your competition.

Are you willing to give this a try? Let me know how it goes.

You can order a copy of my new book, The Way Back from Loss at Amazon or other fine retail outlets.


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Trust is the winsome wedding of faith and hope.

Brennan Manning

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