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Customer Service – One of the Biggest Mistakes to Avoid

What is one of the biggest mistakes companies make in their customer service efforts?

Not asking for or not encouraging customer feedback.

The customers are the people keeping you in business. Listen to them.

Many of us go about our day and do business with our usual vendors day in and day out. Or, maybe we are one of those 70% who leave because we don’t like the service and find someone who does treat us better and we like the overall experience enough to stay until we find someone else.

Occasionally, you encounter one place that you get a little annoyed or irritated with or sometimes even the point of thinking “That’s the last time I’ll go there again.” Now, if those places were smart, they’d be asking their customers if they were happy doing business with them. They’d be asking what it is that draws them back to their business. They’d be asking what they like least about doing business with them. They’d be asking them for ideas and suggestions on how to make it more beneficial for them to do business with them.

If they were REALLY smart, they’d be contacting lost customers and asking them what it was that cause them to leave. Some studies even suggest that they’d gain a portion of that business back simply because they reached out with the genuine intention of wanting to do better by their customers.

Customer service is about the relationship, not the product

Whether you are merely benchmarking or looking to see if changes you’ve made are making a difference, asking for feedback will give you information worth it’s weight in gold. This is your target market telling you exactly what they want you to do in order to keep their business.

Remember, customers are buying the relationship with you, not your product or service. As we all know, a critical part of successful relationships is communication. This needs to be two way communication, but as the service provider, it’s in your best interest to be proactive with the communication and seek the feedback from your customers. Doing this, you’ll be able to jump on issues immediately when your customers tell you there are areas that need focus or attention. You can absolutely fix it after the fact, but wouldn’t it be better, and a lot easier, to know about the issue before it has the chance to drive customer away?

Select your feedback method to match your business model

You need to find methods of getting feedback from your customers regularly that works best for you. Some choose to do it by surveys, comment cards, focus groups, one on one conversations either in person or by the telephone. I’m currently doing this for one of my clients now. I’ve contacted customers fitting a certain demographic that we’ve selected to find out how they like the processes my client uses. We’ve gotten valuable feedback and are currently making changes based on that information that will make the experience much better for the customer. We know they’ll be thrilled with it.

Some companies and businesses use online surveys to get feedback. This can be very effective when done correctly. All too often, I come across a survey clearly designed to produce a desired outcome based on the way the question is worded or the answer selections. Language plays a big role in surveys so I caution you to be very diligent in getting the honest and candid responses you are really looking for. Remember, you are looking for the good, the bad, and the ugly. You can only correct and fix the issues that you know about.

Should you choose to use surveys, make sure you are surveying as many customers as possible in order to get a true voice of the customer. If your client base is, lets say, 1000 customers and you only survey 10 of them, your answers won’t represent an accurate sample.

You also want to do away with the neutral response option. You want people to stand behind their feeling of either liking or not liking your business or the way you do business. It’s like someone who ate at your restaurant “What was the food like?” and getting the answer “Eh,it was alright.” That doesn’t really tell you anything. You need to know all about it. Did it taste good? Too hot? Too spicy? How did it look? Was the presentation appetizing or did it look like slop thrown on a plate? You really need to know these things in order to know if you should keep doing what you are doing or if you should change direction.

My recommended way of getting feedback through surveys is to have both quantitative answers, like a rating or scale system, and a qualitative answer field as well. This way the person can explain why they responded on the scale as they did. You’ll get more candid responses that way as well.

The best way to get feedback, in my opinion, is to have the conversation with the customer. Either in person or on the phone, having dialogue and asking questions based on their answers will give you feedback and suggestions worth their weight in gold. Think about it…. This is your most invaluable market research. You are truly discovering what your target market thinks and wants.

To get even more strategies to gain loyal customers, check out http://www.kristinaevey.com/products/5-steps-to-more-loyal-customers/ or go to the resources page for additional tools. It costs far less to retain your existing customers and make more money with them than it does to market to, attract, and gain new customers. Why not focus on your existing customer base and have them market to new customers for you?

To gain practical insight on how to best serve your customers, register for the complimentary short video presentation at the top right side of this page.  You’ll be given five strategies to transform the customer experience along with techniques on how to build the relationship your customers want and are willing to pay for.

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