Let's be realistic, it's not easy running a business, it's hard work. Keeping the establishment running, managing staff, suppliers and customers is a full time job. Our staff are usually so busy making sure work is completed, invoices raised, paid and putting out the inevitable fires, everything that can be put off until tomorrow does not get done.
No-one would argue – it is a fact: Knowing what your customers really think about your product, service, staff, value for money is critical… however whilst most businesses THINK they know how their customers feel about them, unfortunately the reality is normally totally different.
If you have not got an system to effectively ask for and receive accurate, factual and REPRESENTATIVE customer feedback you are almost unaware of the reality of what YOUR customers really think about YOUR business, consider this:
A ‘conventional’ feedback will be doing well if it gets more than 15% of clients to provide feedback. The Customer Care Programme typically gets about 95% of customers to provide feedback. So what is the difference? A conventional process will get feedback from those customers who are happy and think you are doing well. Once in a while a really dissatisfied customer will have a rant, what’s missing is the vast majority of your customers who don’t bother to let you know that they think you are really average…
You will be amazed at what can happen to your business if you find out what your customers really think AND act on it. The impact on the ‘Key Business Drivers’ can be absolutely astounding.
Used to make your ‘prospecting’ communications more compelling, good customer feedback and the use of targeted success stories and case studies will massively Increase ‘Lead’ generation if you actively promote your business via any media, email, advertising, in the media, online… in fact anywhere your businesses is promoted.
A converted lead is a paying customer. Staying in touch and using relevant success stories and case studies as well as your customer ‘endorsement’ in the form of good testimonials is guaranteed to multiply your ‘conversion’ ratios by 10’s, if not 100’s, maybe more.
Customers want to hear about people like them, keeping them as a customer will make a monumental difference to your profits, far too many businesses struggle to find new customers to replace those they are losing whilst doing nothing to keep the customers they already have.
Once you know the words your customers use to describe how you have solved their problems and helped them realise their dreams your ‘communications’ problem is solved – your customers don’t what to hear about you, they want to hear how people like them benefit by using your services.
Most businesses would sell much more to their existing customers if only they could persuade their customers to buy from them more often. But customers only see what they are looking for, frequently they are unaware of what else you could do for them, use your customers words of praise to share the good news and watch your repeat purchase frequency go through the roof.
Maintaining or Increasing Transaction Value:
Why drop prices when you don’t have to? If your clients consistently confirm that you are doing a great job, can you put your prices up rather than down? Discounting to encourage growth simply sucks cash out of your business.
Increasing Margins - Responding to Price Pressure:
Very few people brag to their peers about ‘cheap’, more interesting by far are stories of great service and the benefits enjoyed. If your clients consistently tell you your services is superb value for money then it is time to put the price up, increased prices = increased margins which translates immediately into more cash in your bank.
This is the big one. Ask your clients for feedback. Make sure they know you are really interested and that you act to address their concerns and not only will all of the other business drivers go off the scale, your referral rates will soar, especially when you make a point of creating a totally natural process that makes asking for and receiving referrals as natural as breathing.
Referrals are the best source of new business you can possibly have – a referral is typically ready to buy right now and best of all they are highly unlikely to even think about looking for other possible suppliers, they are literally yours to lose.
AND THE BEST NEWS? WITH THE EXCEPTION OF LEAD GENERATION AND CONVERSION ALL OF THE KEY BUSIENESS DRIVERS WILL DELIVER A HUGE INCREASE IN THE VALUE OF YOUR GREATEST BUSIENSS ASSET – YOUR CURRENT CUSTOMERS.
To communicate with your current and future customers you need a few key business ‘tools’ which you almost certainly have at your disposal already:
- A list of names with email address and telephone numbers of your current customers and prospects for the future.
- An email system to enable you to send out mass emails quickly and easily.
- An effective system to obtain concise feedback and case studies / success stories from your existing customers.
- A way to get your message onto the internet, (typically your website and your social media feeds).
- It goes without saying, but a telephone is still one of the most important communications tool you have, (but how well does it get answered? In all too many cases the answer will be poorly)
Having sorted the basics and addressed the things your customers think you need to improve, continue to monitor customer feedback and then you can really start working on your communications. Asking your ‘delighted’ customers for mini case studies and success stories your communications challenge becomes easy to tackle.
You can get sophisticated, conduce gap analysis and segment your client base, creating customised messages for each segment but for most businesses simply creating a regular ‘communiqué’ built on customer success stories and getting it out there is enough.
Think about it. If you keep reassuring your existing customers by sharing the positive sentiments of others you will improve Retention, i.e. customers will stay with you rather than going to the competition. When your current customers discover what you have done for others they will make the connect and realise that you can do the same for them, this will result in your selling more to existing customers.
By asking for feedback and making sure your customers are happy, whilst you thank them for giving feedback you automatically create the ideal opportunity to ask for Referrals. If you don’t ask you will still get Referrals, but if you ask your referral rates will go off the scale.
In summary: Use the tools you have. Systematically obtain feedback as a sustainable system to ask for and receive Referrals and use the success stories you will inevitably obtain as the basis for all your communications, email, PR, website, Social Media, Advertising etc. Some would call this marketing, we prefer to think of it as Customer Care.
Asking for feedback, documenting success stories, asking for referrals and creating communications materials is simple, at least it is in theory. In practice it is either not done, or it is done extremely badly.
- Before asking, ask customers if they would be happy to provide feedback, unless they are really not happy with your service they will agree, it’s human nature.
- Then ask for feedback, but keep it short and make it easy or you will irritate your customers and response rates will plummet.
- Politely ask if they have received the feedback request and offer to take the responses over the phone. If you don’t do this you will only hear from your ‘very satisfied’ customers, i.e. your feedback will be non-representative.
- Analyse the feedback and work out what else you want to know and then…
- Thank your customer for taking the time to provide feedback, and ask they to explain what they would like you to do to move from an ‘average’ to ‘excellent, and whilst you are talking you can ask for some words with which to create a ‘success story’ or ‘mini case study’.
- Act on their feedback and tell them and if appropriate everyone else what you have don’t to improve customer service.
- Write up the success story and ask them to approve it and give the OK for you to use it and their names in on your website and in your other ‘communications’.
- Thank them again and ask for referrals.
- Publish the good news in all your media, website, emails, social media, press releases, etc.
- Wait a reasonable period and repeat the process to make sure customer satisfaction is continuing to move in the right direction.
BUT: Whilst the rewards are huge, it is not an insignificant undertaking; it is easy in principle, but very difficult to do well or to maintain momentum. Your job is to make money delivering your goods or services, we do this for a living so why not give us a call, you will be pleasantly surprised to discover how cost effective the process really is.