Reading the title of this article, one might think these are questions you ask your customers, but one would be wrong. These questions are meant to be asked in an internal meeting, where leadership, sales, marketing and other teams meet to strategize how to take business to the next level.

In my recent book, “I’ll Be Back: How to Get Customers to Come Back Again and Again,” the last chapter is devoted to six questions: the steps a team should take to create an experience that gets customers to come back. These questions may seem simple, but when you drill down with your team and take time to implement the ideas and suggestions that will come from the conversations, you are on your way to putting even more distance between you and your competition.

Question One: Why Would a Customer Do Business With Us?

This may seem like a simple question, but it requires some serious thinking. We don’t want answers such as “our people” or “great customer service.” That’s what our competitors might say. What truly makes us different? Do we have a product nobody else has? Is our process different? Can you prove any of these differences?

For example, I worked with a healthcare organization that had a cardiac machine that only eight other hospitals in the United States had. If I lived in that community and had a heart attack, that is the only hospital I would want to go to. It’s important to understand what differentiates us and why a customer should and would choose to do business with us instead of a competitor.

Related Article: Do You Really Know Who Your Customers Are?

Question Two: Why Would a Customer Do Business With the Competition Instead of Us?

How much do we know about our competitors? Is there something they are doing that we aren’t? Is it attracting customers to them? Not only should we know what makes us different (Question One), but we should also know what might give our competitors an advantage over us.

Questions Three: Is There Something That the Competition Is Doing That We Should Be Doing Too?

Based on the answer to Question Two, if the competitor does something different from us, is it something we can do too? If the answer to that last question is yes, don’t just copy the competition.

For example, many years ago, a smart hotel owner started giving away free newspapers to the hotel’s guests. Guests could come down and pick up the newspaper at the front desk in the morning. The hotel across the street found out about this “perk” and decided to give away newspapers, but with a difference. Instead of giving away newspapers at the front desk, the daily paper would be placed outside the rooms. Do something a little different to make it your own. Simply copying makes us a commodity with no differentiation.

Learning Opportunities

Question Four: What Companies Outside of Our Industry Do We Love Doing Business With and Why?

Every answer is a good answer. We might love a vendor because of an inside sales rep who takes great care of us. We may love the Amazon experience, the restaurant down the street or our car dealership. And it’s not that we just love doing business with them. It’s why we love doing business with them. It’s very important to understand the why.

Question Five: Are Any of the Reasons (the Why) We Love Doing Business With Any of These Companies Something That We Can Do for Our Customers?

This is where we move from getting the best ideas from inside our industry to moving outside of the industry. This is what moves us to be world-class. What are the companies we love outside of our industry doing that we could be doing as well? And since these ideas aren’t from the competition, it’s okay to copy.

Related Article: What Innovative Customer Experience Leadership Looks Like

Question Six: Now That We’ve Gone Through This Process and Implemented Some of These Ideas, We Ask Again, Why Would a Customer Do Business With Us?

This final question excites me the most. After working with our clients on this exercise, I love seeing the differences in their answers to Question One versus Question Six.

The success of this exercise is more about the execution than the conversation. We can sit down with our team and go through all six questions in one meeting, but that is just the start. Executing the ideas is “where the rubber meets the road.”

It could take months (or longer) to fully execute the ideas you and your team come up with, especially the ideas discovered from companies and brands outside of your industry. But once you do, the results will be positive. You’ll be hearing more of your customers say, “I’ll be back!”