As I alluded to in A Day in the Life, Part 1, you need to build-in time to contact your customers to get unfiltered and honest feedback. Not everyone will want to talk to you, and that’s ok. Don’t forget that they are busy, so remembering to be flexible and respectful of their time will be essential to accomplishing your goals.
Don’t just call your current customers; their feedback may be rainbows and butterflies. Reach out to past customers and prospects, too. Get the whole story; not just the part about how you’ve been a hero to current customers.
You’ve done your due diligence, gathered feedback, made a few assumptions and gained a lot of insights about your target audience. Now what?
Here are a few ideas of how to make use of the data you’ve gathered:
Core competency – Now that you’ve talked with your stakeholders, you should have a good idea of what you do well. I urge you to think about this critically. If your core competency is being the low cost provider but you’re losing money every quarter, you may want to rethink your business strategy.
Areas of improvement – Inevitably, if you’re talking with honest folks, they’ll have constructive criticism. Sometimes this can come as a shocker so be prepared for the unexpected. If the vast majority of results say you have poor customer service, it’s likely that you have poor customer service. Try removing your personal bias and ties to the company by listening to feedback directly from the horse’s mouth. Think of negative comments as areas of improvement, opportunities even. Challenge yourself and your staff to strive for excellence in all that you and they do.
Read between the lines – Not everyone you survey will be forthright with their feedback. While I wouldn’t encourage interpreting information, sometimes it’s unavoidable. Recognize if customers were trying to be polite as to not offend you. If that’s the case, think back to what they were really trying to tell you.
Tread lightly – Undoubtedly you received feedback from someone having a bad day. Conversely you likely received feedback from someone who loves your products and services. Be cognizant of this by removing the extreme feedback. The majority of information you’re looking for is the middle 80%.
This is the beginning step towards being the best of the best! But don’t think this is a one-and-done scenario. Voice of the customer surveying should be conducted on an annual basis. Be prepared, plan accordingly and be nimble. This will help you be a sustainable and lasting business.