A woman doesn’t ask if she looks fat in her jeans because she wants the truth – she is looking for words of affirmation. When we ask a question of our customers; we run the risk that we may not like the answer.
And yet it is important to know the truth. Once we know the truth – we can take action.
When I was the Regional Manager for Pearle Vision I would conduct phone surveys as part of a business review. I would call 25 recent customers and asked about their experience. I hated those calls and yet the answers were beneficial for my business.
Most callers were kind but there were a few that used the questions as an opportunity to vent. It was the honest call that provided the most valuable information; knowledge that I could then act upon to improve my business.
That didn’t make hearing the answers any easier.
Although in our head we may know the answer, once asked, the answer has to be dealt with. There is a reason lawyers only ask questions to which they know the answer. Sometimes surprises are not a good thing.
Let me ask you this: would you rather have an unhappy customer tell you they were unhappy and just where you went wrong OR would you prefer the unhappy customers to just go away?
Although dealing with dissatisfied customers can be frustrating, challenging and sometimes painful – by asking the right questions and listening to the answers withoutgetting emotional and taking it personally we have the opportunity to learn:
- How was the experience lacking?
- Is the sales associate in need of training?
- Are the products less than expected?
- Was the turn around time too long?
- Did we over promise and under deliver?
Use the conversation to first – fix the initial experience and second – to learn for future interactions.
It is comforting to ask the questions to which we already know the answer, however, when we take a risk and ask the unknown – we learn, grow and benefit for future customer experiences.
Added bonus. If a customer leaves unhappy and we are unaware; we are unable to fix the problem. They won’t come back and they will probably tell all their friends and family.
However, if we ask the question and learn the customer is unhappy and we FIX the problem – we have now turned a negative situation into a positive. The customer becomes one of our biggest cheerleaders because we actively sought to make things right!
So when was the last time you asked your customers what you could do differently?
About the Author: Deborah Chaddock Brown opened her freelance writing business AllWrite Ink in 2004 after almost 17 years with the International retail optical corporation, Pearle Vision. Deborah’s background is in franchising, operations, marketing and communication, however, her passion is helping businesses connect with their target audience using the Internet. Deborah blogs at Websites People Read.