“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates
The genius of Bill Gates lies not so much in his ability to create new technology–after all, he bought, not invented the programming language of BASIC, which begat DOS, which begat Windows. Rather, his genius is his sales and marketing skills. By closing the deal and getting his newborn operating system inside an IBM computer in 1980, he beat out the competing operating systems that were vying for the same honor, and he positioned Microsoft to become the software technology leader of the world.
Bill Gates has also been concerned about listening to the customer and learning about the customer’s needs. When something doesn’t work for the customer, Microsoft marshals the brainpower of thousands of programmers to fix it. (Granted, they don’t always get it right the first time, but they keep trying until they do and send out millions of patches in the meantime.)
Picking the brains of your unhappy customers–hopefully, not angry–customers can be the most potent tool you have for improving your own products and sales. Knowing how to gather that information, how to manage it, and how to use it is your mission. If you’re not learning from your customers now, start tomorrow. Their input is invaluable.
How do you exercise being proactive with your customers to better your skill-set?