Ask the right questions to get the right answers

CUSTOMER/ INNOVATIVE Perspective - IN this column, I continue with a series of articles which identify how to explore different perspectives driving success related to something (the situation, your focus) that you want to decide, resolve, plan and implement. Today, I look at the perspective of customers/clients. Before you and your key people embark on any initiative to change or improve things, spend some time exploring people’s perceptions, understanding and commitment from the point of view of customers/clients. Here is a list of questions that you and relevant others could consider. You don’t need to answer all questions – just those that resonate with you and your situation or focus. Some questions will produce the same answer. Reason? Sometimes you can ask a question and get no answer. Rephrase the question and, bingo, you get an answer. Give this list to the relevant people and give them time to reflect on the questions, then discuss and explore all viewpoints. How could our focus affect customers? How could customers affect our focus? How well have we clarified who the customer/client is in this situation? What could be other opportunities to create new customers in this situation? How could we incorporate customer satisfaction targets in this situation? How could this situation affect our ability to attract new customers and to retain existing customers? What impact could our focus have on our people who are our key providers of customer service? What impact could these people have on our focus? What are the needs of customers in this situation? In this situation, what do our customers want as well as need? How could we incorporate how our customers needs have changed or are changing over time? How could this situation add customer-perceived value to our products and services? How can we enhance customer value here? How could we offer our customers something that they themselves have never thought of? How could we incorporate what customers see as value in this situation? How could we incorporate the expectations and perceptions of customers in this situation? How could this situation help us exceed customer expectations? How could we differentiate our offerings to the customer in this situation? In this situation, what are the likely positive reactions of customers? What are the likely negative reactions of customers? What are the current and emerging customer requirements and expectations in this situation? How could we incorporate future market, technology, economic and societal trends as they might affect customers in this situation? What could we do to generate positive customer reactions and to minimise negative customer reactions? How could we incorporate customer feedback in this situation? How might our key systems and procedures need to change to meet the expectations and needs of our customers in this situation? What customer service training could be required in relation to our focus? With respect to customer service, what collaboration and cooperation is required from other areas? How could we act to maintain and build long-term customer relationships in this situation? How could we provide a better proposition for our customers than our competitors or other service providers? How are we separating fact from opinion? How well are we drilling down to get the facts? How might our current ways of thinking about customers be limiting our effectiveness or future success? What ways of thinking about customers might serve us better? Daniel Kehoe created and developed the Super-Thinker ® – an outstanding and innovative tool for decision making, problem solving and planning. He has worked as a management consultant / facilitator since 1979 in Australia and overseas. In that time he has worked with over 5,000 managers ranging from chief executives to frontline managers. He has spent thousands of hours listening to and exploring the important perspectives and issues driving success. The list of organisations he has consulted to reads like a Who’s Who of Australian commerce and industry. Daniel is a Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants and is the author of the best-selling You Lead, They’ll Follow book series, volumes 1, 2 and 3 published by McGraw Hill and sold worldwide. On-line See the Super-Thinker ® at Contact Daniel

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