Listen to Your Customers

Today we’re talking more about forecasting during the pandemic. Check out our YouTube channel and this article from Harvard Business Review for more on the topic!

Last week we mentioned that you might want to start forecasting as for 2021 as if the pandemic had never happened, and what that really means is: go back to the beginning. Try to start your forecasting for 2021 with essentially no base. Rebuild your knowledge base from the ground up. Most of us, when we’re planning and forecasting, rely heavily on transactional data. As business people a lot of us understand the numbers, and that transactional data is easy to obtain in most cases. But the real process of forecasting is trying to understand the data and understand what it’s pointing you to. So we want to suggest that you start your forecasting process by talking to your customers, or “measure customer sentiment.”

This could mean talking to two or three of the customers that you know well. Depending on what business you’re in, talking to your customers will be easy or it’ll be quite a challenge, because you might have high volume. If, for example, you’re in the restaurant business, you could just start talking to some of the folks coming in. Find out what’s on their mind, ask how they are, see into how their businesses and lives are going, and what your customers are up to. Forecast and plan only after you’ve done this.

I would submit further that talking to your customers is something you should do all the time…

Only after you’ve done this will you actually be able to understand what the numbers are really trying to tell you. So that’s our tip for forecasting this week. We help all of our clients do planning and forecasting! It’s a very busy time of year to be doing that, but we would love to help you too. If we can be of any service please let us know!

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