If employees are the heart of a business, customers are the lifeblood. And as a business owner, it’s your responsibility not only to constantly grow your customer base, but to get to know them…really get to know them. Why? Because content customers are actively promoting your business. They are your best advertisements, something no amount of money can buy. And your success is reliant on their success, so the better you know them, the stronger the relationship between them and your company.

But how do you get to know your customers better? Here are five things you can do gain insight into what makes them tick:

Send Out a Survey
I’ve written about my affinity for surveys in the past, particularly to gather the wisdom of the crowd and take the temperature of contentment within PFSbrands. But surveys can go a long way with customers as well. Allowing them to submit answers to some open-ended questions will give you insight into how and what they think. You may not always hear what you want to, but you will definitely hear what you need to.

Invite Customers on a Tour
At PFSbrands, we have what we call Discovery Days, where we bring customers in to spend the day meeting our team and touring our facilities. This is a great way to illustrate your appreciation for their business and help them better understand the resources available to them.

Make a Site Visit
Nothing says “I care about your business” more than taking time out of your busy schedule to visit the customer. This shows a clear investment in their success, and a genuine interest in their world.

It sounds simple, but there really is no better way to get to know your customer better than to listen to them. Too many times leaders feel they need to constantly talk, tout, and sell, when they’d be better off listening.

Be Selective
A common misunderstanding in business is that when it comes to customers, quantity is king. Within the first twelve years we definitely had issues with what I call ‘customer churn.’ We were putting on a lot of retail customers that maybe hadn’t been in business very long, or we were signing up customers who weren’t committed to consistency and quality.

For PFSbrands today, our customer selection process is more like an interview process versus a traditional selling process. We essentially interview our retail customers and try to make sure we get them in the correct space, just like hiring an employee. Because when you hire an employee, you want to make sure that you hire somebody who fits your culture, and just as important, you want to put them in the right lane so they can be successful and excel. When you set a standard, you’re already miles ahead in knowing your customers.

Remember, business is about building relationships, with your employees as well as your customers. The stronger those relationships become, the stronger your business becomes.