Wouldn’t it be nice to know why your customer chose you over a competitor? You may think you already know the answer: They choose you because you’re the best, right? After all, business owners must be confident about their product or service, so we often lull ourselves into a content state of complacency.Ah! But what if it’s not because your product is “the best.” What if your customer is settling because your business is convenient or has the lowest price? Maybe at this very moment your customers are searching for an alternative because you haven’t won their loyalty.
How great it would be to know what your customers are really thinking before it’s too late?
To find out, just ask them. That’s right — nothing high tech about it. Ask for five to seven minutes of their time. Let them know you value their opinion and you’d like to talk to them about your performance. Ask open-ended questions and listen. Don’t get defensive if they have something negative to say. Ask follow-up questions so you completely understand the issue. Then take the information and address it immediately.
Using Customer Feedback to Your Advantage
If your customer has nothing but glowing things to say about your company, ask permission to use their comments in a testimonial. Personally, I think testimonials are one of the most effective ways to market your business. Feature them on your website and your social media platforms. Use testimonials in your company newsletter. If you’re meeting with your customer face-to-face, ask if you can take out your smart phone and video their comments for your business YouTube channel.
In addition to performance feedback from your customer, ask them, “What Else?” In other words, what else can you do to enhance your product or service offering? Customers often identify a market void that gives you the opportunity to be a problem solver. Not only will your customers appreciate your ability to fill the void, but it will help you differentiate your product or service from other companies. In fact, some business owners find their customers to be so helpful with business development that they have established customer advisory boards.
Follow Through with Results
Once a customer has provided you with honest feedback, build their trust by communicating how you plan to use the information. Additionally, I recommend providing them with an appreciation gift for their time. That could be a future discount from your company, a gift card or a donation in their name to their favorite charity.
So before you assume you know what your customers are thinking, ask yourself if you can spare a few minutes. Five to seven minutes is all it takes to discover valuable information to improve your sales, service, delivery, and product development.
Have you reached out to your customers lately to find out what they think? What methods did you use, and what did you learn from that exercise?
Susan Wilson Solovic is an award-winning entrepreneur and journalist, author of three best-selling books, multi-media personality and contributor to ABC News and other outlets, public speaker and attorney. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.