The first step to rethink how well you are meeting the needs of your customers is to ask them.

However great the goals of your business are, they are useless without customers. It would be best if you always remembered that customers come first and your ideas come second. A wonderful mentor of mine in the Chicagoland area often said, “People are more important than the project. Once the project becomes more important than the people, it’s time to shut down the project.”

Life moves quickly and people are more connected to each other and real-time news and information. The average customer spends two to four hours a week interacting with one of its vendors. The rest of their week is spent in environments, where they are always surrounded by information and bombarded by disruption. With smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches, it’s reasonably safe to assume they even have these influences during their two to four hours interacting with your business.

All businesses need to be aware of and deal with, real-world trends and issues to remain relevant. It’s critical that you understand how this saturation of information affects your customers. Your business must provide them with answers to their specific questions. Customers value a reliable place to do business that fits within their modern, connected lives. To provide an environment that accomplishes these essentials, the business must understand the changing world and be ready to quickly meet customers’ needs.

For example, I consulted with the CEO of an industrial company whose engineering team had moved away from asking the company’s customers what they wanted most in the next set of product updates. They viewed this discovery step as a nuisance and a waste of time. Despite early warning signs that customers had concrete ideas of what should be developed next, this team ignored all of this vital customer feedback. So, the CEO moved the entire engineering department under his office’s direct supervision to ensure that their customers came first, and the engineering team’s ideas came second. By putting this team under his direct management, the CEO was able to remind the organization of their actual role and assure customers they would produce what they needed to run their business.

The questions to ask are: how does your business help your customers grow? Is your business relevant? It would be best if you asked yourself these types of questions about real-world events and issues because they are the same ones that your customers are asking about your company. You can do this quickly by applying some new insights that produce positive results.