10 Questions That Drive Real Change
by Clicktools Guest Blogger, Jeannie Walters
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You have to dig in, ask your ego to go out to lunch, and be prepared to find out hard truths about your business and (gasp!) yourself. Questions to gather feedback and surveys are great, but it’s easy to ask questions that lead the witness.
“Are you satisfied” is a lame customer question. What does it tell you if they are? What if they aren’t? What action can you take with that information?
What if we thought differently about what we ask customers?
Before you ask THEM, ask yourself WHY.
Why are you asking for this feedback, specifically? Do you want to hear how to improve? Do you have a problem you are trying to identify? Asking specifically why we’re going through the exercise of gathering feedback is a great way to prompt thinking of the best ways to get it.
Here are a few ideas to use in your surveys and beyond!
1. If a customer seems “satisfied” but not enthused
Ask: “What should we add to our service or products?” Many times, we humans don’t know what we want.
Asking “what would make you satisfied?” really leads to a lot of “um” and “I don’t know” replies. What should we add forces us to think about what’s missing.
2. If a customer is matching the profile of one who might defect
Ask: “What should change today to keep you as a loyal customer?” Do not ask “What can we do to keep you?”
It’s generic. We’ve heard it before. Asking what should change today empowers the customer to tell you exactly what’s on his or her mind. I once heard the real frustration was with billing. This is easily solved, plus we did change it THAT DAY. That is powerful.
3. If a customer has left you for a competitor
Follow up a few weeks or months later and ask: “How is it going? Can you share what’s working better?”
Your goal here is not about THIS sale. Don’t make it about winning them back. Make it about learning for the future.
4. If a new customer raves about your first project or comes back to your store to rave about the first interaction or product
Ask: “Can you think of others who I should talk to? We build our business on referrals.”
In the beginning, when the relationship still has that new relationship smell, is the BEST time to ask for referrals. Invite customers into the process.
5. If a customer happily pays their bills, interacts just as they should, and overall seems pleasantly loyal
Ask: “Can I invite you to be on our customer advisory board?”
The best customers are often the ones who are easy to ignore. They are not the squeaky wheels or the biggest cheerleaders, but they support your business every day.
Ask them to participate in an ongoing conversation about your business for the reward of getting more of what they love. (There are lots of ways to do this – with or without more incentives – that depend on the type of business, etc.) Help them feel important and needed.
6. If your client expresses frustration with how things are going
Ask: “What would make it easier? Name anything.”
Help your client remove the limitations and consider ways to help you help them. Often, we sit in frustration because we assume things can’t change. We assume that’s how it works. If we lift those restrictions on our thinking, we can see how things COULD be, which is liberating and empowering.
7. Reward your best employees.
Ask: “Who serves you best here?”
If there is a stand-out relationship that helps your customers stay loyal, this is a great way to find out.
Bonus tip: If the customer answers with just a name and no more information, that means this person is best of the “just ok.” If the answer includes sincere superlatives, details about WHY this person is great, or requests for you to “hire another” like him or her, that tells you this person is a great asset.
Study what your star offers to customers and replicate as much as you can. Don’t forget to reward your star for a job well done!
8. At any point, ask specific questions about process.
Ask: “What can we do to improve the billing process?” or “What should we do to make signing up easier?”
Specific questions help us think in a focused way. These questions will lead to a lot of information you won’t be able to gather with “what can we do to improve?”
9. If you have a storefront or a front desk
Ask: “How were you greeted today? Were you offered help/water/instructions?”
The reception we get as business owners is typically different than what our employees and customers get. Ask about it and see what sort of response you get. “She was great” or “Toni helped me pick out something” is very different than “it was fine.” Read between the lines.
10. Finally, ask this one early, often and repeatedly:
“Are you getting everything you need from us?”
Give your clients, customers (and as a bonus, your employees) the room to say when things are not perfect. Not only that, but it allows you to say “I’m sorry” or “Thank you for telling me” in a way that’s not too late.
I like to say “Question Everything & Everyone!”
It’s a way to get the truth when you may not know what truth you need to hear.
People, in general, are nice. We like to please others and don’t always want to share honest feedback. Look for as many ways as you can to open that door. You’ll learn amazing things as long as you keep listening! What questions have you used that provided the most thoughtful responses?