If Startups Are Going To Listen To Their Customers, They Need To Ask the Right Questions

Don’t waste your time soliciting customer feedback that won’t fuel growth

Joe Procopio


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These days, with so many channels available for two-way communication with customers, it’s never been easier to listen, learn, and understand what your customers need — and then fill those needs.

But first, you need to be asking the questions that lead to the answers that fill those needs.

That trips up most startups.

Last week, I got a question from a very impressive founder who was looking to push his multi-million-dollar revenue-generating startup into growth areas he knew he was missing out on.

“It’s a wickedly great business, but I’m missing out on growth — and more effective marketing — as I have not nailed down my target audience to speak directly to those people. I’m great with a lot of things, but I’m struggling with what questions and data points I need to be able to figure out who these super fans are.”

His FOMO was not misplaced. You can listen to your customers all you want. But if you’re not asking the right questions, you’re just wasting your time. And theirs.

This is the one time I don’t want you to think like your customer.

Here’s what you should do instead.

There Are Two Ways To Listen To Customers

You can’t escape the fact the customer is always right, even when they’re wrong. In other words, when a customer is unhappy, that needs to be fixed. Immediately. It’s not a matter of whether or not you solve their problem, it’s how far you bend over backwards to solve it.

That’s reactive listening. It’s mandatory.

But proactive listening is mandatory too. Asking your customers the right questions at the right moment, interpreting their feedback properly, then acting on that feedback with the proper amount of force — that’s a well-tested strategy for market growth.

The problem arises when this formula is applied incorrectly. Unfortunately, that can happen in a lot of different ways at several different points in the…



Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building TeachingStartup.com & GROWERS. Write at Inc.com and BuiltIn.com. More at joeprocopio.com