Right Question – Right Time

Your customers are your best source of ‘Business Improvement Innovation’, we are going to share another secret from the world of customer feedback to explain why most companies totally screw it up, to help you get it right… 

We have already explored the fact that A) most surveys fail because the people you want to hear from don’t respond to surveys, and B) why those who do respond, don’t tell you what you really need to know.

If you want to discover the truth, you need to address both problems, but you also need to be asking the right question(s) and doing so at the right time…  so, what are they?

Think back to the last time you completed a survey, was it a positive experience?  Or, if you refused to give feedback when asked, why? 

Chances are it was a painful experience and one not to be repeated, which would answer both of the above questions…  so, if everyone is mucking it up, and making it harder and harder for anyone to get meaningful feedback, how do you unblock the log jam to get meaningful, constructive feedback from the people who really matter?

The answer really is mind numbingly obvious:  Ask.  We don’t mean ask for feedback, We mean ask your clients if they would be happy to provide feedback… 

We are all human, and on receiving a reasonable request, we are all wired to respond in a positive manner and say ‘yes’.  Refusing a reasonable request is really hard, it just does not feel right, so, the vast majority say ‘yes’. 

Having sought permission first, you still need to pick your moment.  Chances are your client is busy, so you need to find a time that suits them, how?  Ask.  “Is now a good time, if not when would be good for you”.  You may have to try a few calls at the time your client asked you to call, guilt means they feel they owe you, and they agree to give you a few precious moments of their time to answer your questions.

That addresses the ‘Right Time’, all we need to cover now is the ‘Right Question’, and this is also a shocker…

What is most important?

  • The question you want to ask.

Or…

  • The issues your clients believe are important to them and that you need to know.

The answer should be so obvious that this becomes a stupid question.  So why do most surveys bore the client stupid with specific and frequently closed questions that completely fail to identify the real issues. 

The question you really need to ask your clients is this: ‘What could we do to improve the service you receive?’

By doing this you will uncover the things that are important to your client, but a word or warning - if you start by asking this question first, your survey will almost certainly fail for two reasons:

1.       You are immediately channelling your client down a negative train of thought which will leave them feeling more aggrieved than they were before they ‘got it off their chest’.
and

2.       The responses are likely to be extremely short and uninformative.

Whilst ‘What could we do to improve the service you receive?’ is the Question you need answered, you need to structure things to make the experience a positive one that will strengthen your relationships and make clients more loyal.

How?  Well that is the topic of our next article, but if you cannot wait…see how one of our Approved Suppliers, Enquir3 can help - give Steve Darnell a call on 020 7100 5180