Posted by: Andy Porter | July 11, 2011

Knowing What Your Customers Are Thinking

In most businesses the owner and even the employees are the last ones to know what the customers think!

A business is there to service or provide products for customers.  At the same time, research shows that only one in twenty-five dissatisfied customers, will tell you what was wrong.  The other twenty-four customers, who leave dissatisfied with your business, will almost certainly tell other people.  They just won’t tell you!

Customer feedback is extremely valuable.  You can do so much with it.  A primary use is to help the business correct problems.  If your customers are complaining of long wait times, you can add more staff or streamline the order process.  But that’s just the tip of the tulip.  Customer feedback can be used to:

  • Create effective bundles of services or products
  • Improve perception of value
  • Set pricing/discounts
  • Determine which products to carry
  • Educate employees
  • Motivate your team

In fact customer feedback is one of the most valuable management tools in existence!

It’s really impossible to get too much customer feedback.  I don’t know of any company that gets enough.  Realistically if you want to create loyal customers you need to know what ALL of your customers think about you, NOT just the ones who love you!

Of course how you USE your customer feedback is tremendously important.  But before we get to that lets discuss more about HOW to gather the feedback. 

A company must establish three easy-to-find and use channels for customers to communicate what they like and don’t like.  In addition, you must create a customer service record where you and your staff can track any and all customer comments, both good and bad. 

Methods to gather customer comments: 

  • Mail out survey forms to all of your new or existing customers
    • Surveys can be mailed with your invoices
    • Surveys can be mailed to all new customers with a personalized letter
    • Have survey forms to hand to customers
      • If you do on-site repairs for example, your technician should hand the customer the survey as they leave. 
    • Place stacks of surveys forms for customers to fill out or take home and send back. 
      • If you have a business where customers come in, there must be a customer survey table with stacks of surveys, in plain view where customers can report! 
    • Have a survey section on your web site
      • The survey on your web site must be easy to find! 
      • This is a great time to provide your anonymous feedback avenue. 
    • Send out emails with surveys
      • This can be used with an offer for discounts if they fill out the survey
    • Call new or existing customers and survey them on the phone. 
      • Follow-up calls rock!  All follow up calls are essentially opportunities for customer feedback. 
    • Survey the customers in person while they are still in the store or business

Rule # 1:  You must have at least three channels for customers to provide feedback. 

Rule # 2:  One of these channels must enable customers to give feedback anonymously. 

Rule # 3:  In addition to the three avenues you choose to gather feedback, you must ALSO use the Customer Service log!   

Before we tackle the methods of gathering feedback let’s look at the survey itself.  What questions do you want to ask your customers?

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