A customer is the most important visitor on our premises.
They are not dependent on us. We are dependent on them.
They are not an interruption in our work. They are the purpose of it.
They are not an outsider in our business. They are part of it.
~ Mahatma Gandhi ~
Many business owners, when trying to determine the success of their company, turn to financial reports for answers. And while these reports can show the “how” and “when” of success, they cannot provide the answer to the question most business execs regularly ask: “Why?”
Why did sales drop last month?
Why does this product consistently outsell all the others?
Why do we regularly lose customers after 6 months?
The answers to these questions – and to many other “whys” – are often found only through one source: the customers. Asking your customers what they think through surveys, phone calls and during in-store visits will help you not only understand your customers better, but it will also help you gain a deeper insight into how your company operates. And this is an insight you would never see first-hand. In terms of success, the perspective of your customers is the one that matters most. As Gandhi suggests, your business would not exist without your customers.
Reasons to Listen to Your Customers:
1. Loyal Customers Visit More & Spend More
Are you tracking your customers’ visit frequency and spend? By measuring customer loyalty over time, you have the ability to see how sales are directly affected by loyalty. One of the most effective ways of “listening” to your customers is through a loyalty rewards program.
2. Use Customer Feedback Data to Offer Customers What They Want
Data collected through customer feedback loops gives you the tools to target different problem areas in your business. As you actively apply changes based on customer feedback, your customers will not only realize that you will listen to what they have to say, but also that you care about – and want to improve – their experiences with your business. Customers want to shop at companies that appreciate their business and care about building solid business-to-customer relationships.
3. Strengthening Your Employee Base
Customers will offer both positive and negative feedback that will provide specific insight on where you need to improve operational processes and employee standards. Never forget that the most constructive feedback often comes from unhappy customers that just want to be heard. Use this information to develop improved training for your employees, empowering them with the knowledge they need to offer superior customer service. Help your employees take pride in their work and appreciate the importance of the customer experience.
4. Walking the Talk Builds Customer Trust
A company’s image is built upon the promises made through marketing and advertising efforts. However, customers will be quick to notice inconsistencies between how your company appears through ads and their own actual experiences. These inconsistencies will drive customers away. Use surveys and face-to-face conversations to gain a better understanding of where and what these inconsistencies may be. Then use that feedback to ensure what your customers are experiencing is as good as what you advertise.
5. Take Care of Your Customers – Or Someone Else Will
You are not alone in understanding the importance of the customer experience and the principles of loyalty. Every successful business is changing its company processes and standards to encourage stronger customer loyalty. Many businesses have made the mistake of trivializing the customer experience, realizing too late that their customers had no loyalty keeping them from moving to a competitor that openly appreciated their business.
Do you encourage customer feedback? Why? Why not?
What practices do you use in your business to ensure your customers’ feedback is heard?
What changes have you made in your business as a result of customer feedback? What was the result?