by Mary Cantando, Founder of The Woman’s Advantage, Guest Contributor

Your customers have so many insights and ideas to share with you, if only you’ll ask them. Now I’m not suggesting that you pepper them with surveys or polls, or that you constantly bug them with superficial questions. But asking the right questions face-to-face with key customers can go a long way to creating a more-profitable business.

One key thing to remember is this: Follow up on their comments, if only to tell them why you cannot do something. If you ask them to invest their valuable time, be sure they’re aware of the results one way or another.

Here are five questions you might start with.

Five Questions to Ask Your Five Best Customers.

1. How did you hear about us?

Really listen to this answer. Whether it’s social media, website, trade show, or referral—whatever your top five customers say, is where you should spend your marketing budget.

2. What made you choose us?

You might learn that what you consider your strengths don’t even register with the customer, while what matters to them might be something you’ve not even considered.

3. What professional groups or trade associations do you belong to?

If you are looking for more customers just like them, this answer will tell you where they congregate.

4. Can you share an example of how we’ve gone beyond your expectations or fallen short of them?

This answer will show you what has the greatest value to them so you can focus on that area.

5. What one new offering do you wish we’d provide?

The easiest way to grow your business is by increasing revenue through existing customers; so ask what else they’d like to buy from you.