Even though it may be a painful process, you need to learn what customers don't like about your product or service. How else are you going to improve if you don't know what people don't like? Is your product difficult to use? Is the color obnoxious? Do your customer service reps take too long to field their calls? Make it a point to ask customers what you could be doing better. You'll be surprised how much they appreciate it when you ask for their input. But don't stop there. Once you hear what they have to say, do something with it. That way, you can build the better mousetrap before your competitor does.
For example, if you own an auto body shop, you have ample opportunity to visit a bit with your customers because they'll usually have to come to your shop at least twice-once to drop off and once to pick up. When they stop by and there's a wait, use the time to find out what's important to them. Offer a cup of coffee or a cool drink, and ask if they would mind filling out a short questionnaire or answering a survey. Zero in on how the place looks, what your service has been like, and how they liked your work.
Excerpted from 303 Marketing Tips