Finding out what customers want is sometimes less than half the battle. Not only do you have to get from understanding to implementation, you often need to deal with the fact that gearing your product or service to an average customer can mask a range of underlying requirements. A standard approach risks dissatisfying almost everyone.
There is no average customer.
We can address this problem with good staff or through tailoring, but it's also well worth finding out the impact of over or under delivery. Often the impact is not symmetrical. We asked one client's customers whether they were contacted “too much”, “about right”, or “not enough”. Opinion was divided—does that make it an impossible situation? Not when you know that customers who were contacted too much were as satisfied as those who thought it was about right. Only customers who weren't contacted enough were unhappy.
Goldilocks notwithstanding, “too cold” and “too hot” are not equally bad.
The lesson we learned with that client is applicable to most organisations. Active* contact with customers is almost always a good thing, improving customer satisfaction and often reducing the number of inbound calls. Using SMS and email is, increasingly, an attractive way to keep customers informed (guess how many people have that as one of their priorities for improvement!) while keeping cost under control.
You can't talk to customers too much...(unless you're selling)
All of which could be distilled to "find out what customers want and give it to them".