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By Eric Balinski

What if customers were fish? A inside look into how to reel in your community of beer drinkers Fishing is a passion and helping clients make sense of customer input and behavior is work I’m passionate about. Combining both back in the mid90s led to a revelation for me and many clients when I asked them this question: “If your customers were fish, would you try to catch them all the same way?” Craft brewers love to interact with their customers. It’s a source of inspiration, a route to new ideas and, often is one of those gratifying experiences when the brewer learns all their dedication is appreciated by their fans. Generally speaking, customer feedback and input is considered a good way to improve a company and a building block for future growth. While often true, customers can mislead a brewer or any business. It is not the fault of the customer, as they are giving their genuine input on what they think, believe and feel. Rather, problems occur when the business team has failed to organized these comments into recognizable patterns and customer types. Compounding the problem is typical customer experience and satisfaction advice leads a company to believe all input is good input in today’s




world of personalized customer experiences. This just isn’t reliable input without a way to put context to the input. Without context it can lead a brewer down the path of being compelled to do anything customers suggests so the brewer earns a happy face on social media. While it's nice to please people, it can result in poor financial performance. Here’s how things go haywire. Consider if one of your regular customers asked you to go fishing. You eagerly accept because you know he is a heck-ofa-fisherman, and you have not had a day off in six months. He shows up the day of the fishing trip, takes one look at you and your fishing equipment and says, “You’re bringing the wrong gear for what we’re doing.” One question would have prevented this misunderstanding – What are we going fishing for? You may be tempted to believe a good approach is catching any and all you can. This is where customer feedback can start to misdirect what your business does. Simply put, how one catches a 24inch brown trout on a fly is much different than how one catches a 100-pound tarpon on a fly.


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