5 Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Their Own Customers (We Did!) Mike | June 8th, 2015

It is certainly not the first time I’ve said this, but the point bears repeating: your customer’s voices are the thing you should be paying the closest attention to. Today. There are many ways to get your ear to the rail and listen to what they have to say: surveys, exit questionnaires, customer service emails, live chat, and phone are all channels that you can leverage to request and respond to customer feedback.

There is no rule that says this communication needs to be serious or formal. For instance, your customer service, sales, and support teams speak to your customers every single day. Train them to be conversational and engaging and they will find that the people on the other end of the line open up. Ask them about themselves and their businesses and they will share invaluable insight that can be acted upon or, at the very least, discussed internally.

At crowdSPRING we actively solicit feedback through several channels: when they complete a project on the site, our Customers are all asked to rate our company and their experience and to leave us any comments, suggestions, or ideas they have. Over time. we have built an enormous database of customer suggestions (and rants) which we can use to focus and prioritize our own work on the product and our processes. Does the customer feedback ever get annoying? You betcha. But that does not lessen its importance to us nor do we ever stop listening to it.

Here are 5 things you can do that will help you to start listening and learning today:

1. Listen closely. This is where it starts, continues, and ends. Defining and building your listening channels is the foundation and you should pay close attention to developing the most appropriate forums. Many businesses offer support to their customers via phone and chat, but lots of customers prefer the relative emotional “distance” of email or webforms. Sometimes your listening channels will be passive, and you will simply provide the tools and then sit back to wait for your customers to contact you. A more aggressive, and often appropriate, approach is to actively seek out customer feedback via surveys, outbound phone calls, or even online options such as popup chat windows and the like.

2. People are key. It’s not just how you listen to the customers, but also who is doing the listening. Your front-line people must be selected for their ability to engage, an innate sense of empathy, and the indispensable skill of actually listening to what the customer is saying. Some of the necessary abilities can be taught or strengthened (and proper training is critical) but much of the skill-set needed is inborn and your hiring practices should reflect the necessity of finding the right people for the work.

3. Stay focused. Concentrating hard on the entire process of learning from your customers involves three “P’s:” the people described above, clearly developed and defined protocols for communicating with customers, and (perhaps most important) practice. Practicing your methods will lead to constant and ongoing improvements in how you seak with and listen to customers. Your policies and protocols should evolve over time as you respond to customer’s needs and suggestions. Never ever let your methods be carved in stone: a malleable approach will allow you to be responsive to what they’re telling you and swift in your reaction.

4. Your product can be better. Don’t get defensive. Really, when someone tells you that your product sucks, don’t go with your gut instinct to defend and protect what you’ve built. Instead put yourself in that person’s shows and consider what they experienced. Remember, nobody has ever built a perfect machine, or offered a perfect service – every product, every service offering, every website, ever retail store – these can all be improved upon, made more reliable, laid out more intuitively, or offered at a better price. As you read this, I have no idea what business you’re in or what offerings you may have, but whatever it is that you’re selling can be made better, too. Period.

5. Great ideas can come from anywhere. Finally, keep in mind that a great idea can come from a totally unexpected source. Your 4-year old niece may find ways to improve that button on your website, your 80-year old aunt may use your technology in a way you never planned for, and your newest customer may have a suggestion for how you can improve upon a process that will make your entire team stronger than they were before that customer’s arrival at your shop. The idea is to be open to new ideas, new thoughts, and to listen hard to every complaint as it comes across your threshhold and every suggestion as it floats through the proverbial transom.

Photo, Wikimedia: Pre-World War 2 photograph of Japanese Emperor Hirohito inspecting an array of acoustic aircraft locators. Prior to the development of radar in World War 2, military air defense forces used these devices to locate approaching enemy aircraft by listening for the sound of their engines.

From many minds, the perfect design. Post your project today and let the crowd wow you!

  • Well said. As it is in most relationships, business or personal, proper communication is key! I loved the emphasis on “listening” it is a highly under-rated skill that many don’t seem to appreciate. It’s important for the front end people to know that they can communicate BACK the information they are getting from customers to ensure there is a proper flow… and that something is done whenever possible.

  • mike_samson

    @Marika – thank you so much for the kind words. Yes, agree totally that listening is a skill that is in short supply; at cS we work hard to train our front-line folks especially in the art of the listening “loop” that you describe.

Join the crowd that's raving about the crowdSPRING Blog

Get our weekly digest of can't-miss content on how to take your brand to the next level.

Creative needs?

We have 200,000 creative professionals ready to help you with custom logo design, web design, or a new company name. Take your project to the crowd!

Click to get started on

Free eBooks

interviews with graphic and web designers

12 Question Interviews with cS designers.
Get it »

contracts for graphic designers

Contracts for designers who hate contracts.
Get it »

contracts for software and website developers

Contracts for software developers who hate contracts. Get it »

Latest tweets

crowdSPRING @crowdspring
Small business tips and tricks: reconciliation hell (or 12,716 ways to spend your weekend) https://t.co/AGBc9JwTw3
crowdSPRING @crowdspring
How To Avoid Disaster In Your Small Business Digital Marketing Efforts https://t.co/895IuA3XC2

About crowdSPRING

Tens of thousands of the world's best and most successful entrepreneurs, businesses, agencies and nonprofits rely on crowdSPRING for affordable and risk-free custom logo design, web design, a new company name or other writing and design services. More than 200,000 designers and writers work on crowdSPRING. We create designs and names people love. 100% guaranteed.

Learn more »
Read previous post:
Twitter Link Roundup #272 – Picture-perfect Resources for Small Business, Startups, and Design!

We get some cool projects on crowdSPRING. But what could be cooler than a HoverBoard? And who cooler to deomonstrate...

Close