February  2006      Vol. 15, No. 2  REAP HOME PAGE  A publication of the Center for Rural Affairs    
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Customers Keep Your Business Going
BY MONICA BRAUN, SOUTHEAST 1 REAP BUSINESS SPECIALIST

All businesses believe they are very close to their customers, but often they know very little about them. This is the most important group of people to a business. Customer turnover is frequently high, but usually this turnover is not analyzed. Rather than find out why customers cease to buy their products/services, most businesses increase promotion to find new customers. Usually, this is very costly.

Customers determine the success or failure of a business. Without them a business cannot exist. To capture customers, a business owner must find out what customers want and will buy. Expectations and demands are influenced by non-economic as well as economic factors, such as attitudes, desires, and expectations. Also, people want as much as possible for their money.

Evidence indicates that staying close to customers can pay off. A sale never ends, but continues to make customers come back. Customer satisfaction must be continuously monitored.

Are your customers satisfied or not satisfied with your present products/services? Do your products/services have the features they need/like/dislike? Do you provide a needed product/service or one considered a luxury?

Are they satisfied with the price range of products/services? Do they understand why your prices are set as they are? Are customersí expectations being met? Do they feel they are getting value for their dollars?

Ways to obtain information from customers include customer surveys, conversations with customers, observing customers, keeping track of customerís questions, requesting customerís suggestions, etc.

It takes some time and effort, but a business owner can know his/her customers well and be able to solve their problems and retain their business.


Contact: REAP Southeast 1 Business Specialist Monica Braun at mbraun@alltel.net or 402.643.2673.
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