From the January 2004 issue of Entrepreneur

Q: Our company has grown in the past few years. In the beginning, it was easy to stay in touch with customers and their needs, but that's no longer the case. How can we reconnect with them?

A: Congratulations-managed growth is something most of us in business strive to obtain. To increase communication with clients, survey them on what they like about you and where they see room for improvement. Susan LaPlante-Dube of Precision Marketing Group LLC in Upton, Massachusetts, works with companies wanting to learn this information from customers so they can provide better service. By using an outside source to survey clients, you get information on what their needs really are and how better to address them. They're also more likely to tell someone external to the organization.

Also, communicate regularly with customers via e-mail, direct mail and phone calls. Asking a simple question-such as "What's the best thing our company has provided you with?"-is a great way to land testimonials and get feedback. Give customers an incentive to respond by offering a prize.

On the phone, ask clients if they're having difficulty with an aspect of their business that you might be able to help with. If you can't, refer them to another entrepreneur who can-that's guaranteed to make a lasting impression.


Nancy Nichaels is president of ImpressionImpact.com, a marketing consulting company. She can be reached at nmichaels@impressionimpact.com.