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How to Really Listen to Your Customers A flexible response to a customer's needs plants a vineyard's new direction.

By Erika Napoletano Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When's the last time an idea you dreamed up over a whole lot of wine held up until the next morning? Usually the day after such a session is more about "Pass the ibuprofen" than "Holy crap! I had this brilliant idea to grow my business!"

But for brothers Butch and Jerry Milbrandt, the owners of Milbrandt Vineyards, wine-y nights--and, more so, a willingness to be flexible about their product offerings and invest in their business--have led to solid growth.

Facilitating Feedback
If you can't sit down face to face with your customers (that's a shame), then put these tools to work to learn more about what they're thinking.

Your mailing list. Send customers a short and simple survey to find out what they'd like to see from your brand. Sending out snail mail? Make sure the survey return is postage-paid.

Your telephone. How long has it been since you placed a follow-up call after a sale? Start dialing. When your customers know the phone line is open--and that you want to hear from them--they'll start calling you, too.

Your community. Get involved with other local businesses in your industry. Networking will help you find out about neighborhood happenings, needs and emerging trends.

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