Most entrepreneurs assume that they have happy customers. And, of course, they want customers to love their product and company. Few know what customers are feeling and fewer still elicit or solicit the love they seek.
They figure they can just Google their company to see if anybody is saying anything, positive or negative about them. Or, if they have a Facebook page, they judge the number of “likes,” and track anybody making ugly noises about their product or company to correct the situation.
But this isn’t nearly enough! Because, unless all your customers are very active in social media, you aren’t going to even scratch the surface of understanding how your customer base feels. And then one day…they’re gone. And you never know why!
So what’s a better answer to customer care? And how do you get those customers who do love you to spread the word about it?
Get direct customer feedback after every completed sale; and, if possible, after every lost sale. Learn why they bought…or didn’t. What they liked about the process…and what they didn’t. Do it as directly (telephone as opposed to email) as possible. And get them to get into the great stuff that happened when you won, and the gory details of when you lost. And then, act on the results by sharing them throughout the company.
Conduct periodic customer surveys that ask hard questions you need answers to, not just “softball” ones that beg, positive only, responses.
Don’t just ask about things you know you do well.
Corroboration is excellent, but it doesn’t make you a better company. Ask questions about areas that most concern you about your product or service, your support, your sales process. And, again, act on the results!
For example, a well-known cable provider asks me to complete a customer survey after every customer service call. Just to see what they’d do, I responded with the lowest rating in every question, expecting a callback, an email, or worst case a form letter, horrified at my response. And what did I get back. Nada! And I’ve done it multiple times with the same result.
If your product or service is conducive to it, create a User Group that can provide ongoing feedback for current features/functions, issues with your product or service’s operation or delivery, or future requirements.
Additionally, a User Group can provide a forum for customers to dialogue about unusual uses or applications of your product or service that enhance its value to customers. And above all, listen and learn!
Find and know “the happy customers,” through any of the buyer information gathering steps noted above or from sales or support experience with them. Have them provide a quote for your sales literature or your website.
Or go one better and create a case study around some of the unique uses of your product or service that you can promote through your site or at trade conferences. Not only does it help you in your sales process, but it gives your customer some great exposure as well.
If you respond to a lot of RFPs, build a reference list of customers who will tell a great story about your product or service when called upon. If it fits in the way your market does business, offer referral “bounties” (discounts on products, services or support rather than bonuses or commissions that will give some organizations problems) for all new customers that come in through another client’s referral.
Happy customers are the goal of every business. But staying on top of how customers feel and what they are saying about your product or company is critical to achieving and maintaining happy customers. And making sure those happy customers tell the world is essential to your entrepreneurial success.