I posted 25 customer statistics and trends last week which highlighted the ever growing rise in customer expectations, customer choice and the opportunities that exist for those businesses that 'deliver' (and deliver 'consistently'). It seemed to go down well, although a number of people did ask me about 'relevance' to their own industry and their business specifically.
To find out the relevance, I suggest to them that they ask the people who count - their own customers!
Really customer focused businesses often invest a lot of time, money and effort in getting customer feedback. I also think that lots of businesses waste lots of time, money and effort in getting customer feedback. Why? They ask the wrong questions; they ask lots of questions, but don't actually listen; or they listen to the answers and then do nothing about what they hear!
I'm all for getting customer feedback - it's a great source of ideas, opportunities, improvements, and it demonstrates to your customers you care (provided of course you do listen and then take action!)
Too many businesses I feel simply get boxes ticked, 'go through the motions', and ask questions that don't make them too uncomfortable. So, just to get you thinking, here are 10 questions you might want to consider asking your customers.
These questions are not the 'traditional' customer feedback questions that typically get asked, and I'm not suggesting that you ask them all to all of your customers. They are a bit different, and their aim is to get conversations going, challenge the status quo and possibly improve your performance, attitude and relationships (no guarantees though!).
- What attracted you to us originally? This helps get a view of how you are seen in the market place and what are the things that appeal to your customers.
- What would you do if we weren't here? This may give an insight into the value they place on you as a supplier - Would they actually notice?
- Can you name one particular individual who has impressed you in our business? This highlights your customer champions, and maybe some of your 'unsung heroes'. If they can't name anyone, what does that say about the way your people interact with your customers?
- What one thing could we do better? Just one thing - it may highlight their priorities and key issues.
- Why do you buy from us? This highlights your strengths - some of which, you may not be aware of. (Be careful how you phrase this one! You might sound as if you're doubting yourselves if you say it wrong!)
- If Carlsberg ran our business, what would it look like? You know the adverts - this one 'stretches the imagination', and even though you may not be able to 'deliver' exactly what they say, it may give you a few ideas about what they see as important!
- Name one thing that we do or don't do that irritates or annoys you - this one speaks for itself! The key is doing something about it!
- Who can we learn from? This helps you identify who your customers see as 'role models', and might just point something out that's not happening in your industry you could learn from.
- What would you say to someone else who asked you about us? Their initial response to this is often a revealing one!
- What is the one thing we should never stop doing? This one tells you what they really value about you!
You may feel you can't ask these questions to your customers. That's not a problem, but why not find some questions that you can ask?
Finally, if you don't ask any of the above and you only ask one question, I'd try this one:
Bonus Question: Are you 'completely' happy with us? '
It can only be answered 'yes' or 'no'. It's a brave question, but it stops us rationalising away when people score us a 7 or 8 when we ask them to rate us out of 10. The obvious follow up question is 'Why / Why not?'
So, go on, ask some questions, listen to the responses and do something as a result. What have you got to lose?
Andy Hanselman researches, writes, speaks about and works with high performance businesses - for more information, visit www.andyhanselman.com