Do you know what your customers really think of your business?
Soliciting regular feedback is one of the most valuable business activities you can undertake.
By Michael Mekhitarian
Ok, hands up who’s had issues with one of the big Telcos?
I bet if I posed that question at the pub on a Friday evening I’d be sitting there for hours listening to stories.
I was in fact, talking to a friend the other day who is having dramas with her internet connection. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that she was venting her frustration. Trying to have it resolved, she says, is a carbon copy of every single problem she’s had before, and equally maddening.
There’s a litany of issues: Techs who don’t meet appointment times, the endless loop of automated phone responses when you call, long waits on-hold, the promise of call backs that never come … and the disappointment of finally speaking to team member only to find out they need to transfer you to another department or speak to a supervisor in order to help.
Ironically, though, she said, the company does provide a number of responsive online services, which is handy …. But only if your internet is actually working!
So many of us have been there too. And over the years, there have been plenty of business case studies written about the big telcos and their various successes and failures, so I don’t need to elaborate further. Suffice to say, the big companies seem to be able to get away with poor customer service and still make big profits.
When you’re a small business, you can’t afford to take your eye off your customers. In fact, considering impact on customers should be a foundation for every decision you make from culture and operations through to sales and marketing.
Customer satisfaction should be assessed at least once a year, if not more frequently.
This becomes more important as we begin to interact with clients and customers more online – via video conferencing, webinars and through automated billing and sales processes.
Now, there are as many ways to measure customer satisfaction as there are ways to make pasta. You might decide to build mechanisms into your transaction process, or send a mailout to the database, post an online survey, solicit feedback via social media … the list goes on.
Customer satisfaction can be a nebulous beast though. Because it’s subjective. You might think you’ve bent over backwards for a client, only to realise that’s the bare minimum they expected. Another customer might conversely, be overly delighted when you return a phone call.
Even so, you really must measure customer satisfaction, even when you have regular communication and pretty close relationships with your customers because anonymous surveys offer a chance for impartial feedback – the stuff they might not tell you in person, especially if it isn’t flattering to your business.
What you want to do is measure three things, and the trick to getting data and information you can use, is to keep the survey as simple as possible. This way, your results will be clear, and your customers can complete the survey without it taking up too much of their time.
Do this by asking the question: ‘How likely would you be to recommend our services / products?’ This is sometimes called the ‘Net Promoter’ score and it is typically considered the most important indicator of customer satisfaction. If a customer is willing to recommend your business, or has already done so, then you know you’re doing something right. Word of mouth is an excellent (and cheap) way to win new business.
Ask how happy customers are with the product they purchased or the service they received. You can get specific feedback on sales and customer service teams this way too, and see areas where individuals might be performing really well, or need some extra training.
This relates to how easy and comfortable it is doing business with you. This is where it’s useful to collect detailed feedback about the entire sales or service process, which can help you to identify any bottlenecks or glitches.
When you consider the feedback overall, you’ll see definite pressure and pain points you can work with, and you’ll also see what you’re doing well.
The next critical step is not ‘filing’ the responses away in a drawer or on your cloud drive. You really need to consider what the feedback means, and what you might seek to implement as a result. Customer feedback can be a driver for innovation – understanding what people want from your business. If you get some really great feedback, get permission to use it as a testimonial.
When times are tough and uncertain, like they are now as we work through the post-pandemic recession, it’s much easier and less expensive to retain existing clients than to attract new ones. And of course the less customer churn you have over the long term, the more your business will benefit.
If we can help, please contact us.