We’ve all heard the experts say that the most important person in your business is your customer, but why do they say that? What is the real reason why?

Obviously the customer brings the money into your business, and since without that there is no business, they are very important, but there’s more to the story.

On a basic level your customer requires you to service their requirements by selling them the products and services they are looking for. The story has many more chapters, and we’re going to look at some of them now.

You also need to understand “why” your clients are buying from you, and why those that do not buy from you aren’t. That’s because knowing that allows you to convert clients and customers into raving fans. Most business and marketing gurus start and stop with a superficial interest in this area, but it is crucial to building the best business possible.

Raving fans buy from you because they know that they can get exactly what they need from you, and that your offer suits them better than your competitors’ does. Clients and customers buy for other reasons.

It may be that you are just a bit closer than the other guy, or maybe a bit cheaper (and competing on price is not something you need to do when you have raving fans). It might also be that there just isn’t a viable alternative, and it can even be that you haven’t actually told them why your offer is the best.

What that means is: in principle there are two ways to influence the market – by your actions and by your communications. You may have the best, but unless you tell people that they can’t line up to buy, and if they don’t do that then they can’t become raving fans.

To complicate things a little more – it doesn’t matter if you know that your offer us superior and that you think that you have informed the market if they don’t share that view. Have you ever said something that has been misunderstood by the other person? That happens more often than we like to think, we only become aware of it when the other person (over) reacts. We don’t find out when a customer just takes offence and stops buying from you.

That just means that what your client thinks is the most important part of the most important person. You need them to think, to believe, that your offer is the best solution for them, and you control that by the way your behave and the way you communicate. The problem is that if you don’t know what they think then you can’t correct what you are doing and saying, which means both of you are unhappy: they don’t get what they really want because they don’t see it in your offer, they perhaps just never ask for the right thing, and you don’t have the number of regular customers and raving fans that you deserve.

This means that you must take steps to discover what your market really thinks. You’ve probably been surveyed by other companies, and maybe you have noticed similar questions being asked by all of them. That generates a feeling of “Oh, another one” instead of “Great, they really are interested in what I think”, and that means you don’t get to find out the truth because those you really want to hear from don’t bother responding, and those that do respond only do so in a superficial manner.

You need to know what they think about your products and services, the actions or you and your staff, and how well they think you communicate those abilities. Ideally both you and your market both believe you do well in every aspect – which means you and your raving fans agree that you are the best and you are able to communicate with and influence them in ways they appreciate.

Apart from the sometimes questionable outcomes from surveys they are usually also either expensive or very time consuming, and sometimes both. There is a better way.

BPI has an online assessment that will tell you how your business rates and how well you are communicating that capability in each of ten categories including appeal, value for money, innovation, trustworthiness, overall success, and the perceived likelihood that your business will survive in the medium to long term. That assessment costs less than dinner for two at a fast food chain, so it represents great value for money, and you can use it for your own business or the businesses of your clients. Find out more by visiting the My Assessment or Reseller pages at www.bpireport.com/.

Let us know in the comments what you think about this article, and thanks for sharing it with others you think would be interested.