When we started work on this issue's cover story, we were hardly experts on customer loyalty. Sure, we knew loyalty was an important topic, and we knew the subject had attracted a lot of hoopla over the past few years. We suspected it would be worth our time to dig more deeply, but that was about it.
Once Senior Correspondent Amy Barrett started reporting, we were quite surprised by what she discovered. The entrepreneurs she spoke with have expanded the concept of customer loyalty far beyond the idea of the profitable, regular customer. Instead, they have customers who are so enthusiastic that they eagerly contribute not just to their favorite company's sales, by referring others, but happily pitch in with marketing and product development.
Which got us thinking: How do we know what our customers—our readers—want from us? We get mail, which helps us come up with story ideas. But that's hardly the free-flowing dialogue we'd like to have with our readers. That's why I'm inviting you to join our reader roundable. Every few months we'll ask a small group of readers to come to our offices and help us make SmallBiz a better, more useful magazine. We want to hear about what we're doing well, where we could improve, and what other types of business information you'd like our magazine and Web site to provide.
If you'd like a chance to give us your thoughts in person, and to help guide coverage in the year ahead, please drop me an email with the words "reader roundtable" in the subject line. I'm looking forward to hearing from you.
By Kimberly Weisul, Editor, BusinessWeek SmallBiz