Lesson #2: Connect with Your Customers

“To be a really successful entrepreneur, you must constantly strive to understand your customers. You must also appreciate them and care about their happiness, ” says Stewart. “There are no people more important to me in my business life than my customers.”

Stewart has built her empire on the idea that she is there to serve her customers. A notion that is often lost on many entrepreneurs according to Stewart, she recognized that only in creating a satisfied market was she going to be able to achieve success and attain any significant staying power. With 30 million people tuning in to her weekly television show and 14 million readers of her monthly magazine, Stewart says, “It is my responsibility to remind my employees that serving these valued and essential customers in the best way we possibly can is our number-one priority and the key to our success.”

When Stewart was first beginning her career as a caterer, she seized every opportunity to get feedback from her clients about her services, particularly in comparison to her competitors. Not only did this make her clients feel as if they were being valued, but it gave Stewart the necessary information to improve her business, refine her products and differentiate herself in order to stand out from her competitors.

“Even as my business grows larger and more complex, the power of customer connections is proven again and again,” she says. “We are constantly testing ideas with our customers and potential customers.” Stewart’s MSLO uses weekly Internet polls to maintain a strong relationship with her customers. Often receiving over 1,000 responses in the first half-hour after being sent out, Stewart finds these polls an effective way of continuing a dialog with the very people that are sustaining her success.

Stewart also relies on focus groups, pilot-tests, and soft launches to solicit customer feedback before officially launching a product. She believes that maintaining as much of a personal connection with your market as possible is crucial both for improving your products and for creating loyalty. “I have found, on a profoundly personal level, too, that when you truly care about your customers and pay attention to them, they will most truly care about you and your business.” The thousands of support letters that Stewart received during her recent trial is evidence of this.

In order to make the most of the information you receive back from customers, Stewart stresses the importance of being flexible and open enough to truly hear what they are saying. “Connecting with customers is a mindset,” says Stewart. Complaints and suggestions must be looked upon as useful instead of irritating, because only then will a true connection forge – when the customers feel that they are listened to. Not to be underestimated, Stewart advises that customers can sense when you are being insincere.

“Without an open-minded mind, you can never be a great success,” she says. It is only by developing a true passion for both your product and your customer and by devoting yourself to maintaining the highest quality, that you will be able to achieve your goals.

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