How many times have you been the patron of a business and wondered how they manage keep their doors open? Their service is lousy, your time is not valued, or the quality of the product leaves a lot to be desired. You, the customer, are clearly not a priority. By the time you finally receive the product, you’re ready to walk out. To add insult to injury, they don’t even apologize for the hassle.
This happens more than you think and across all products, services and industries when owners are too buried in the operations of the business and lose site of the most important piece of their formula for success – the customer’s experience. This can also be the byproduct of a company doing well enough in good economic times, when losing a customer is not such a big deal. However, what happens if the economy shifts or something disrupts the industry. How many customers can they afford to lose before they notice something is wrong?
Now, turn the tables around and consider your own company. Imagine you are a customer at your place of business and what hassles you have to deal with. Are you being greeted by a friendly, welcoming face? Are your expectations regarding the purchase process being managed? Is the atmosphere pleasing including sights, sounds and smells? Are employees sensitive to your wait time? Do they apologize or offer you something if they can’t deliver within a reasonable amount of time? These are important questions every business owner should ask themselves.
KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER’S EXPERIENCE
Today’s consumer is savvier than ever and much less loyal. They have a clear belief about what they should get for their hard-earned money and no problem leaving to your competitors when their journey with your company is not what they want or expect. So take it seriously or it can kill your business!
Here are four ways to learn the honest truth about how your business is perceived by customers:
Share it – Tell your customers how important their experience is to you and how you value their feedback. Say it often, in person, on your website, social media and other materials. Create a culture of accountability to the customer.
Surveys – Anonymous surveys at checkout can help you gain insight into trends that could be affecting their experience. You shouldn’t require a lot from the customer. A few properly worded questions should be enough for you to get real-time information that you can act on quickly. Online survey services, such as SurveyMonkey or Qualtrics, can be used for this.
Reward Feedback – Offer randomly selected customers reward points or discounts in exchange for their honest feedback. This emphasizes how important this is to your company and puts your money where your mouth is.
Be open-minded – Many business owners and managers can get defensive about their service or product. Don’t take it personally! Even if you don’t like what the customer has to say, apologize for their experience, offer them something in exchange, acknowledge you’ll look into it and then follow through. You’ll learn the truth about customer impressions and even how small gestures can improve perception.
“The customer’s perception is your reality”
Aptly said by customer service expert, Kate Zabriskie. This means that your success isn’t based on what you believe reality actually is, only how it’s perceived by the customer. Once you understand this, and live by this credo, you are more likely to catch and correct any issues that affect their experiences. You are also more likely to keep them as long-term customers.
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