Setting up a mechanism for consistent feedback from your customers is a critical element of sustainable success.
It’s definitely the time of year to be reflective and contemplate what you could have done differently, should be doing better, and would like to be doing hereafter. In the spirit of such soul-searching times, I thought I would relate a recent experience I had with a prospective client whose success relies on repeat and referral business.
During the course of our conversation about how to increase sales, I suggested that Bob (not his real name) could build his business by implementing a follow-up survey of no more than 5 questions delivered electronically to customers shortly after their experience in his shop. Bob thought that would be a huge imposition to his customers. I suggested he ask his customers at the point of sale if they would be willing to participate, assuring them that the survey was very short. Again, he rebuffed my suggestion, believing his customers would never go for it.
Finally, I asked Bob if he felt it was an imposition whenever he was asked for feedback as a customer. He thought about this and said, “If I don’t care about the company, then yeah, I guess, I don’t really want to be bothered filling out a survey.” “So,” I said, “is this how you think your customers feel about you and your business?” I knew the wheels were turning then, and why Bob was so resistant to the idea of asking customers for feedback wasn’t about his customers’ feelings, but his own fear. And, I think he realized it, too.
What if the worst thing happened and none of his customers was willing to participate? Or, what if he got negative comments back? Either way, his customers would be telling him something he really needs to know, and that’s the key—knowledge. If you don’t know what’s preventing your customers from doing more business with you, how can you overcome it? Like any one will tell you, the first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one and this is no different in business.
Setting up a mechanism for consistent feedback from your customers is a critical element of sustainable success. The trick is in asking the right questions in the right way via the best system for your customers and your business.
For more information or to determine the feedback mechanisms and processes that are right for you and your customers, contact me today.
Carol is a consummate customer service professional and she delivers the best customer experience I have ever received from just about any company when I have been at the point of giving up all hope.
So I had a very unique experience last month. Way back in January I discovered that I could earn additional cash back points for automatically paying my Sprint cell phone bill with my Discover card. Setting up my automatic bill pay, I thought was relatively easy. Sprint sent me an email explaining that bill pay would take a month to kick-in, so it wouldn't be until February that I would have the convenience of the service.
Well, sure enough when I got my February e-bill from Sprint they informed me that my automatic payment would take place the day before my bill was due. Now, I happen to be one of those people who pay all of their bills on time, and I regularly check my bank account to make sure things are set to be paid. In this case I trusted Sprint had it all under control. However, a few days before my bill's due date I received a bill reminder email from Sprint, and this one didn't mention the fact that automatic bill pay was set up to pay my bill the day before it was due. So, the trust I had in Sprint began to fade.
At the end of the day when the first automatic bill payment was to be made I monitored my online Sprint bill to see if my payment status would change. I also monitored my Discover card transactions to see if my Sprint payment would post. Nothing. The next day, the day my Sprint bill was due, I did the same thing. Again nothing. A few minutes before midnight I made a manual payment using my Discover card to avoid any late fees (according to the language on my bill), which overrode my automatic payment setup.
When I received my March Sprint bill I once again set up automatic bill pay using my Discover card, thinking that perhaps I’d done something wrong back in January. Once again I waited one month for the service to kick in, received my first bill with auto payment the day before the due date, and went through the whole ridiculous process just like before only to wind up paying manually to avoid those late fees.
In May I decide to call Discover’s customer service and see if they can help me successfully sign up for the service. While it does take transferring me twice, each time after confirming my personal and card information and then explaining my situation, which makes three times in total, I am at least directed to the appropriate person. She explains that the automatic payment process is initiated through Sprint and not Discover, so it’s not something that Discover can fix for me.
Now, I'm exasperated, frustrated, and pretty darn angry, but this woman, we’ll call her Carol, is a consummate customer service professional and she delivers the best customer experience I have ever received from just about any company when I have been at the point of giving up all hope. Here’s what she does:
Now, on the other end of the experience there is Sprint, where the initial agent that Carol speaks with hangs up on her—not on purpose, but still. The agent that we eventually deal with, let’s call him Fred, is an okay guy, but he is no Carol. He's knowledgeable and does impart two very interesting pieces of information, namely:
I am a customer who has gone to considerable lengths to sign up for a service that guarantees his employer on-time monthly payment of my bills. As an agent of this company, I would expect Fred to be more motivated to both help me and make up for the inconvenience I have suffered through no fault of my own by offering to assist me in reactivating my automatic bill pay or forwarding my feedback and experience with this service to the appropriate areas of the company. Fred does neither. Now, I understand that he may not be able to reactivate my automatic bill pay, but he can collect my feedback and he can also offer to compensate me for my troubles in some way. Even more importantly, throughout our time together, I expect Fred to treat me with respect, which I think is the very least he can do.
So, I guess I’m disappointed Fred isn’t smart enough to understand all this and take appropriate action. Because, let’s face it, even if Fred himself couldn’t care less about my Sprint automatic payment experience or me, his job should be to make me think there isn’t anything more important to him in the world, at least while we're on the phone together. After all, that's exactly what happened with Carol, and in the process she earned my undying personal gratitude and boatloads of corporate loyalty for her employer, Discover—and, that’s the point of delivering great customer service, even when, or rather, especially when you can’t solve your customers’ problems.
Is your customer experience in line with your communications strategy? Are you building loyalty with every interaction? If you’re not sure, let's discuss how I can help you find out.
Focus on your audience and center your activity around theirs—cheer them on, help them out, raise them up—connect what they’re doing online with what you want to achieve.
Whether you’re looking for customers or career opportunities you know you’ve got to be and be seen online. The question is: Where and how should you be seen so you get the right people to notice you? And, to make things even more complicated, should you figure out the answer to the question, tomorrow everything could change. That’s what social media has done not just to online marketing but marketing in general.
So, how do you make the right decisions for your business or career to invest your resources wisely? Here are a few rules of thumb for maximizing your social media ROI:
Focus on your audience and center your activity around theirs—cheer them on, help them out, raise them up—connect what they’re doing online with what you want to achieve and you may just have a blue ribbon recipe for social media marketing success.