Did Vanilla Ice hold one of the secrets to having a successful business when he infamously rapped, "All right stop, collaborate and listen?"

I think in a way he did, even if that wasn't at all his intention. Listening to your customers is one of the most valuable things you can do for your business. One of the best gifts your customers can give you is their honest, open feedback. But how often and how easy do you make it for your customers and your teams to give and get that feedback? I'm guessing not so easy.

At my e-mail marketing company, VerticalResponse, we recently launched a new version of our e-mail and social media product. We did a ton of user testing and even had a small release prior to the bigger release, but now that it's out in the wild, we are still adding features like crazy and trying to get as much feedback from our customers as we can. You can do this through lots of channels, like sending out surveys, having a feedback tab directly on your website or using third-party providers. Companies like UserVoice and Zendesk are just a few that can help in this effort.

Listen up y'all cause this is it.

In my opinion, though, nothing beats sitting down face-to-face with a customer and letting them do the talking while your team does the listening. For example a team here at VerticalResponse recently attended a summit that an online vendor had for their customers. Before the actual conference began, the vendor's leadership team sat down with my team and walked us through their feature roadmap for the next few quarters, and fielded questions. Then they took it a step further. Their co-founder sat down with my team and asked for feedback about how they use the online product, and he even recorded how they use it so he could take it back and share it with his product team. Last, but not least, this co-founder shared a few ideas of a new look-and-feel that they wanted to vet with their customers and even let my team weigh in.

Awesome! Talk about getting invaluable feedback before you release something! If we all incorporated this into our process think how much better we could meet and exceed our customers needs!

How do you listen to your customers? Share in the comments.

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