man standing in front of a question mark. Why?

The Wisdom in Asking Why

Want to hear something funny? I’ve never donated a cent to my alma mater, William & Mary. I’ve given a little directly to the swim team, but not to the alumni association or the college directly. Even in the two years I was running my own nonprofit foundation, this good cause did not make the list of organizations we gave to. I loved W&M while I was there, and I love it now. So why haven’t I ever donated to my old school?

The answer lies right in that question: Why? There’s a short, really simple answer. It’s something easily fixable, once the right person finds out my tiny little reason and adjusts something simple. Am I holding a grudge? Hardly. As I said, I really do love my college. I’m very proud of it. Mostly, I just want someone to ask me why I’ve never given. But no one’s ever asked. Isn’t that weird? If you were in charge of hustling for donations, wouldn’t you spend at least a little time reaching out to all of the alumni who have never given, or who haven’t given in years, and ask them why they haven’t? Or why they stopped.

Do you have customers who have stopped buying from you? Ever? Has anyone ever asked them Why they stopped?

Many will tell you they can’t, that they’re strapped. And that’s perfectly fine, especially today, as we’re still pulling ourselves out of the Great Recession. But even those people will be touched that you asked after them. That you cared enough to check up, see how they’re doing. And even those people, when they get back on their feet, will be far more likely to give – and to give generously – when they’re able once again. The rest of them? They’ll be more likely to give, too. Many of them will be like me: mostly, just surprised and disappointed that no one ever asked them that one-word question that seems so obvious to them: Why?

Do you have customers who have stopped buying from you? Ever? Has anyone ever asked them Why they stopped?

If you’re running a company, and you haven’t done this one simple thing… you’re missing a huge opportunity. Ask. Assign a fresh-faced summer intern to ask. Anyone. Make sure it’s via phone, by the way. Letters and email are too impersonal. Ask Why. Just find out. And don’t make it a sales call: don’t ask Why, but with the not-so-secret agenda of enticing them back with a special offer. Save that for another time. Make this call about the relationship that clearly needs mending. About the information you clearly need to gather. Ask Why. Like me, it’s probably some tiny little thing. Like me, it could be that the lack of asking has so stupefied your former customer that an unintentional omission has turned into something more intentional by now.

Ask. Go ahead. Pick up the phone. You’ll be amazed and the insights you’ll gain – and the good will you’ll earn.

 

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Copyright: alphaspirit / 123RF Stock Photo

Ted Coiné is a Forbes Top 10 Social Media Power Influencer and an Inc. Top 100 Leadership and Management Expert. This stance at the crossroads of social and leadership put him in a unique perspective to identify the demise of Industrial Age management and the birth of the Social Age. The result, after five years of trend watching, interviewing and intensive research, is his latest book, A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive, which he co-authored with Mark Babbitt. An inspirational speaker and popular blogger, Ted is a pioneer of the Human Side of Business (#humanbiz) movement. He is also a serial business founder and three-time CEO. When not speaking at conferences and corporate functions, Ted advises CEOs on how to become Truly Social Leaders, or “Blue Unicorns” as they put it in A World Gone Social, in order to bring their companies into the Social Age. Ted’s advice: “Change is only scary if it’s happening to you. Instead, bring the change your competitors dread. That is something only a Social Age business leader can accomplish.”

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