Why You Should Listen to Customers

If you are doing anything worthwhile, you will have critics. Learn to discern between those providing valuable feedback on your product or service and those who simply have too much time on their hands and a sour attitude.

When you encounter valuable feedback, determine whether you should implement the suggestions. Andy Grove, former Intel CEO, is candid in explaining one of his major mistakes running Intel was refusing to listen when customers discovered a flaw in the Pentium's floating point unit. He countered the criticism with a public letter to customers explaining that the part was not flawed. This strategy backfired and he was later required to replace the product. The product was indeed flawed.

Tip: Admit when you are wrong and resolve any and all legitimate issues immediately. Don’t fight the truth.

Swift action is also in order when the negative feedback is not valid. The best way to handle negative reviews or comments is to politely and quickly set the record straight.

If the negative review comes in the form of a lawsuit, you may want to follow Taco Bell’s lead and get right in front of the problem. Not only did they set the record straight about their product; they launched an advertising campaign. The advertising campaign brought more attention to their brand and the lawsuit was soon dropped. The brand struggled to regain its footing in the following months, but eventually recovered. Today, Taco Bell is on top of their game.

Tip: Don’t allow negative sentiment around your brand to brew. Put out fires before you get burned.

Fortunately, building a company is not always about putting out fires. Most of your time will be spent building relationships with your target audience, including your current users or customers.

Make sure your customers know they are being heard. Provide a method of communication that allows them direct access to you. Seek out their feedback and implement changes when appropriate.

Many entrepreneurs worry that they don’t have time to manage communications with their customers. Remember: your customer is the lifeline of your brand and their feedback is gold. When you learn to value your customers, your customers will value you.

The time and money you spend communicating with your target audience and cultivating support is an investment in future sales. Customers are the best source of capital. Spend time responding to blog posts, answering emails, and meeting your customers face-to-face.

Tip: Your customers provide the best form of advertisement and a source of non-dilutive capital.  If you make time for your customers they will make time for you.

This article was originally published on www.atelieradvisors.com.

Lili Balfour is the founder of Atelier Advisors, creator of Lean Finance for Startups and author of “Master the Finance Game.”