Clegg Ivey, a vice president with VoIP company Voxeo, recently told me a story about a restaurant near the company's Orlando headquarters that was losing track of what made it successful.

The restaurant's food wasn't something you would go out of your way for, except for a goat cheese appetizer that Ivey said "was to die for." The restaurant became a favorite of the Voxeo staff almost entirely because of the appetizer. But the staff recently learned that the menu had changed and the goat cheese appetizer was no longer on it.

The restaurant had hired a new chef who wanted the menu to reflect his vision, not the past chef's. Ivey told the story to point out that it is easy for companies to ignore what products or features attracted the customers they already have.

Ignoring this risks alienating those customers such that they may quickly become ex-customers, just as most of the Voxeo staff has. Ivey offers "don't take goat cheese off the menu" as a phrase that can be used to remind companies not to forget what the customers liked about the company.

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