Like you, I get lots of them. Usually an email, sometimes a text, if I’m really lucky I’ll get a phone call…….right in the middle of dinner or the hockey game! The “CUSTOMER SURVEY”.
It’s a well intended, very important, but often poorly executed method that businesses use to try to measure their customers’ satisfaction, and ultimately make some improvements to the way they provide products and services to customers.
My question is always, why not just ask our customers, face to face, when they’re working with us? We shouldn’t be afraid to ask customers how we’re performing. We want them to tell us!
So, instead of subscribing to a customer survey process that you wouldn’t want to be part of as a customer, why don’t you try this approach?
Step #1 – Customer selection. Select a small group of customers. Some of your best, some of your worst and some from the middle. No more than 10-20 total. It’s important to receive high quality information as opposed to a large quantity.
Step #2 – Engagement – Set up a coffee or at least a phone call with these customers. Briefly explain that you would appreciate their feedback on your business performance so that you can improve the value you provide all customers, including them. Allow 30 minutes tops.
Step #3 – Standard questions. Don’t overcomplicate it, it doesn’t need to explore every little detail, just a high level review of your performance and what opportunities for improvement you could undertake.
Stick to the following 4 key questions:
- What does your business do well?
- What could you improve in your business?
- Would the customer refer you to others?
Note: No defending during this discussion. These customers don’t want to hear your excuses. You asked for feedback and they’re giving it. Just let them!
Step #4 – Summarize and respond. During the face to face discussion, your customer may say that you’re listening, but you can really drive the point home by summarizing the conversation and sending your customer a copy. It’ll give the customer an opportunity to add anything they feel they may have missed in the conversation. It also further illustrates to the customer that you care about what they think.
Step #5 – Using the results. Once you have completed this exercise, the results should be reviewed and discussed with staff. In fact, it should be the only topic at your next staff meeting. This information you’ve gathered should form the basis of your goals to improve your business. There will likely be points raised that each staff member can take ownership in and ultimately raise the customer satisfaction level and move you towards stronger customer loyalty.
Step #6 – Communication to customers. No matter what process companies use to gather customer feedback, the vast majority make the single biggest mistake in this effort – they don’t tell the customers that were interviewed what they’re going to do to improve. Think about it, the customer has taken valuable time from their schedule to give you feedback, the least you should do is give them an indication of what you’re going to do about it.
Summarize the list of improvements that you and your staff are going to be working on. Send this to the customers you interviewed. This sets the stage for future discussions. If customers feel that you are asking, doing and communicating, they will be more inclined to participate in the process the next time.
Repeat this customer feedback and improvement process as often as reasonable for the size of your company.
I will guarantee that you will get higher quality and much more valuable feedback from your customers using this process than you will ever get from a poorly designed and poorly executed CUSTOMER SURVEY……..
Have I said how much I hate those……….. 🙂