Want To Know What Your Customers Really Think? Ask Them!

An entrepreneur was recently asked: ”What do your customers think about your service?” The response was: “I don’t really know and haven’t really thought about it because I’ve had no complaints and besides I’m afraid if I ask it might open a can of worms.”

It is totally understandable that hearing feedback that might not necessarily be positive can be both disheartening and discouraging and it could possibility make you question your whole business structure. But is there really any point to providing services that your customers don’t value? And besides, what if the feedback is positive?  What if you find out information from your clients that can help you to expand or even make your services even better?

There are various ways of obtaining feedback.

Direct Approach

  • Ask clients if they were happy with the service that was provided and use that as an opportunity to get some background information so that you can make a connection with them.

Email Follow-up

  • Send out a thank you follow-up email along with a few quick questions.

Survey Box

  • The box would sit near a front desk or the cash register.  The survey should be short and sweet so that the client can fill it out quickly and easily and then pop it into the box.

Internet Tools

  • You can create and gather information by using free online survey software such as surveymonkey.com.  Or build a survey into your blog using tools such as Polldaddy.

Mystery Shopper

  • Some businesses like to use a mystery shopper so that they can experience what it is like to be a customer.  This is a good way to evaluate the frontline staff to make sure they are conducting business in a professional friendly manner.

Before you start to gather information, you need to make sure you are asking the right questions so that you can formulate those responses into an action plan.

Take a look at the guidelines developed by the Canada Business Network for some tips to consider when designing your survey.

It is also very important to explore your customers’ needs.  Put yourself in your customer’s place and realize that everyone does have the right to voice their opinions.  In most cases they just want someone to listen to them.  Wouldn’t it be better to be in control of how those opinions come out?   When a person is able to express their needs or concerns, a connection is formed and the customer feels part of the process.

Surveying should be a continuous process that is part of your everyday business structure.  The feedback needs to be gathered regularly so that it can be dealt with, whether it is good or bad.  Remember your customers will be watching to see if their ideas or comments have been taken seriously.

Trends change and so do the needs of the customer.  Taking interest in your customer can help to fill voids and create opportunities that could improve your bottom line.

A thorough understanding of your customers’ needs plays a pivotal role in the success of your business.  After all, as writer and business guru Peter Drucker once said, “The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.”

The Halton Region’s Small Business Centre is here to help you.  One of the goals of the Centre is to empower small and medium-sized enterprises and give you the tools to achieve success. For more information about any of Halton Region’s other Small Business Centre resources and services, and how we can help direct you to the right resources, contact us at 1-866-4HALTON (42-5866), www.haltonsmallbusiness.ca, smallbusinesss@halton.ca or visit us at 1151 Bronte Road, Oakville.

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