Guest post By David Lee
Recently, I closed out my safety deposit box at one bank and moved it to another because their security procedure seemed very lax to me. I can’t remember the details, but I remember at the time being concerned that anyone could have forged my scribbly signature and passed themselves off as me. I don’t remember being asked for a photo ID.
As I often do when I’m having a customer experience, I stepped back and observed my reaction and analyzed it to see if it contained useful lessons for the customer service profession.
I think it did. In fact, it reflected an all-too-common occurrence that deprives many businesses of critical information they could use to prevent customer turnover and at a more subtle level, refine and upgrade the customer experience they deliver.
Here’s what happened…
After leaving the bank, I found myself thinking about what had just happened. It was one of those situations where the full impact didn’t hit until after the situation was over.
When I got home, I thought about contacting the person in charge of customer service, but reflected on how often when I’ve given customer feedback in the hope of being helpful to the business, the response reflected indifference at best and unhappiness at worst.
So, instead, I just took my business elsewhere.
Could this be happening in your business?
Might your processes or your employees be doing things that turn away customers or clients without you knowing it? Is it possible that, because your customers don’t feel comfortable speaking up or don’t believe it will make a difference, they simply leave, with you unaware of why?
Unless you make it explicitly clear to customers and clients that you sincerely want feedback, and actually appreciate them making the effort to do so, you will lose customers without ever knowing why.
It isn’t just about asking for feedback. It’s about letting customers or clients know that you are hungry for feedback. You want them to let you about anything that makes their experience less than a five out of five star rated customer experience.
Why this extra step?
It’s the “little things” that often result in people leaving without your ever knowing because they feel too silly complaining about them. These “little things” accumulate over time until they destroy loyalty, but are often seemingly too trivial to the customer for them to speak up.
You want to remove that reluctance.
So…here are some things you can do to make sure you get the feedback you need:
1) Stay continually dialed into your customer’s WIWI: What I Want Is… Do this by keeping an open channel with your customers, so you get ongoing feedback on what they want, what they like about doing business with you, what they wish you did differently, and other key client experience information.
2) Get rich, detailed information on what your clients want in a client experience. Ask them for examples. Without examples, when they say things like “A business that is really attentive” or “They make you feel comfortable”, you will create in your mind what that means to you, but what you create might be very different from what they mean. Find out what they mean.
3) When you ask for feedback, gather Moment of Truth by Moment of Truth information that helps you identify specific weak links in your service delivery experience. So for instance, when they first call or walk into your business, what is that Moment of Truth experience like? Then, the next Moment of Truth, what’s that experience like, and so forth.
4) Make it safe and welcoming for people to give you improvement feedback. You do this, in part, by making it explicitly clear on all your physical and electronic communication that you are always looking for ways to improve your service and that you value their feedback.
5) Coach your employees on how to make asking for feedback and responding to improvement feedback graciously. Teach them to make this a regular part of their interactions with your customers or clients. This is another way to communicate “It’s safe to give feedback. You won’t have to deal with any awkwardness if you speak up. No one will act affronted or defensive. Instead, you will be treated with respect and appreciation, because we get it that you’re giving us a gift.”
6) Give examples in your communication with customers how you have used feedback to improve your service experience, so they know you do listen and apply their feedback.
7) Always follow-up with the feedback giver. Tell them what happened and again, express appreciation for their taking the time to help you.
About the Author: David Lee is the founder of www.HumanNatureAtWork.com and www.BrandPromisePartners.com . He works with businesses interested in optimizing employee performance and the customer experience they deliver. His work focuses on helping managers cultivate a deeper understanding of human nature and a heightened sense of attentiveness to each Moment of Truth that shapes both the employee and the customer experience. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.