A Radical Idea: Try Listening to Your Customers

In: BlogDate: Mar 05, 2012By: Henry Stewart

I was very struck today by an article in a local London paper, the Islington Tribune, on the special customer service award given to a local corner shop.

The article describes how friendly and polite the shopkeepers at Arsenal Food and Wine are. But what really stands out is one very radical step they have taken.

Owner Ozzy has adopted a habit of asking customers which products they would like to see on the shelves, and then ordering them.

Imagine, asking your customers what they want! It is an act that seems so stunningly obvious, you would imagine everybody would do it. But have you ever been asked in a shop which products you would like to see on the shelves? Since reading the article, I have been racking my brain to think of any time when this has happened to me and I can’t think of one. There are shops I’ve gone in several times a week for over a decade and never been asked if there is anything else I’d like them to sell.

But that is the simple strategy that Ozzy has adopted. He asks his customer what they want to see on the shelves and then makes sure he gets it and puts it there.

You too could try this radical idea: Ask your customers what they want and then give it to them.

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Henry Stewart, Founder and Chief Happiness Officer

Henry is founder and Chief Happiness Officer of Happy Ltd. Following a fairly disastrous job early on in his career, Henry was determined to discover what enabled a productive and happy workplace. In 1987 Henry set up what was originally called Happy Computers. Inspired by Ricardo Semler’s book Maverick, he built a company with a reputation for some of the best customer service in the country and one of the UK’s best places to work, winning multiple awards for its culture and philosophy. His book, the Happy Manifesto, was published by in 2013.

Outside of work he is a father of three, Chair of Governors at his local comprehensive in Hackney and a keen cyclist.

You can find Henry on LinkedIn and follow @happyhenry on Twitter.

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