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Remember all those times your mother told you to visit your grandma and spend time with her? To get know her better?
It probably wasn’t the most exciting thing for you at the time.
But if you looked at it the right way, this experience was a blessing in disguise. You got to understand her perspective, to appreciate her know-how. And who knows – you probably got some good stories about your parents too!
The best thing you learned during this time with grandma was the ability to listen better.
You were able to find common ground, to communicate better. You found out new things about the world and became more knowledgeable. You learned empathy.
You discovered information you would have never found out if you didn’t ask. But because you were there, because you asked the right questions, you got some valuable information.
The same can be applied to how we interact with our customers.
You can actually gain more insight about your industry and value about your own products and services by chatting with the right customer.
A (business) card up your sleeve
Promotion is, of course, important to business. But listening to your customers – we mean really listening – will always give you an ace up your sleeve.
While you might know a lot about your customers, you can still pick up a lot of great things by picking up the phone or meeting them face to face.
Asking what you can do differently to improve what you offer isn’t a sign of weakness – it’s a sign that you’re committed to your customers.
Get people talking about your willingness to improve your brand by using these three steps:
1. Ask the right questions
The more specific you are with your questions about your products and services, the better.
With that in mind, you shouldn’t bombard a customer with 100 questions. You need to find a good balance. No more than 10 questions, as most people have a lot to do. Useful questions can be:
- If you could change one thing about the product/experience, what would it be?
- What did you like about the product/service?
- Were there any challenges you encountered?
Write up your questions and ask someone from your team look them over.
- Are the questions clear?
- Do they allow for a conversation?
- Are they positioned to help you define weaknesses as well as strengths?
- Do they read like they are written by your brand or did you copy and paste a series of questions from a general questionnaire you found online?
The more thoughtful and authentic you come across with your questions, the more people want to engage with you and answer truthfully.
2. Get the right customer talking
Whether you have 10 customers or 10K, you’re most likely going to have a customer or two who more accurately fits your targeted customer identity than others.
Look over your own data – who uses your product/service the most? Don’t you want to know why?
Alternatively, who provided the least favourable feedback or complaint? What really ticked them off? It might seem obvious, but their answer could help you dig deeper. And by doing so, there’s a chance to repair your business relationship with them.
Contact these customers. They hold some wonderful answers for you.
“The first step in exceeding your customer's expectations is to know those expectations.”
- Roy H. Williams
Additionally, you can filter out a good candidate by asking a few questions beforehand. If they seem like a person who doesn’t have the time to talk or answer, move on. You want someone who values the process of achieving a better form of communication between those who provide goods and those who use them.
Once someone agrees to provide you with feedback, make sure not to hound them. Whether it’s responding to an email or chatting on the phone or in person, do allow for obstacles to happen. Whether it’s a sick child or the demand of their work week increasing, make sure to allow for time. Be patient.
The goal here is to get some truth and follow up on their feedback. Show them that you genuinely care about their well-being and concerns.
Who knows, you might discover a particular piece of information to be a turning point. It could lead to the development of something bigger and better.
And the best way to entice the right customer is to…
3. Keep it personal
When it comes to asking for feedback, try steer clear of online questionnaires and standard emails – they’re less personal. A big part of customer feedback is relationship building, so it’s important to treat your customer like a friend.
After a project is completed, take them out for a coffee or give them a call to hear their feedback on how it all went.
Take on board what you trusted customer says – is it worth your while to trial out one of their suggestions? Can you tweak your products and/or services ever so slightly to accommodate a different approach?
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but what if you added some nice touches to it?
By listening to your trusted customer, you can wheel out the best you have.
After all, the stuff we create and offer can be much more efficient and accessible if we just take a few seconds to listen to the customer first. Don't assume anything. Take the time and resource to ask your trusted customer the right questions.
Just make sure to truly listen and respond accordingly.
Do you have the feedback in your hands and you need to tweak a few things content-wise? Whether it’s your business directly or a customer of yours, we’re here to make sure people notice the drive to be better, with words that pack a punch.
Image above courtesy of Internet Association