We’re often so busy Tweeting, blogging, updating Facebook, sharing on Google+, and otherwise putting our side of the story out there, that we sometimes forget to listen. I don’t mean just scanning what customers are saying online, but really hearing them, understanding their needs, and letting them know that we get it.

Before business grew so enamored with websites, social media, and digital marketing, we used to spend far more time talking with customers. We had conversations. We asked and responded to questions in real time. We got to know our customers as individuals. We knew their likes, needs, and wants. And we did it in person – face-to-face.

We talk a lot today about “engaging with our customers.” In other words, doing all those things we used to do before we got side-tracked by the newest, shiny social media or online tool.

Let’s not forget that the reason most of us are in business is to provide a product or service to customers. And to do that well, we need to know our customers. Not just as words and images on a computer screen, but as real people.

So remember to get out from behind the keyboard once in a while and go talk with your customers. And, more importantly, listen to them.

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