I just returned from staying at a fabulous hotel in Hawaii. While I was there, I was impressed that just about every employee made eye contact with me, said hello (more aften "Aloha") and, given the chance, would ask me how my stay was going.
I must have been asked that question at least a couple dozen times over my five night stay, and it got me thinking about how awesome of a feedback loop that creates for a hotel. Think about it. Most hotels don't know about your grievance or dissatisfaction until you get home and open up TripAdvisor.com. It's only then that they read that the food was too chewy, towels too scratchy, or bed too uncomfortable. This hotel was different. They weren't prepared to take any chances. Whether or not the staff were actually interested in my satisfaction, they at least asked. If I had not been having a great time, I suspect that information would have made it back to someone that could have rectified the situation in a hurry.
That leads me to today's question. Are you asking your customers how well they are enjoying their experience with your company? Waiting for them to post a review on Yelp, Amazon.com, eBay, Trip Advisor, etc., is like rolling the dice on your online reputation and hoping for two sixes. More often you'll get just a two and a one. So, here are some ideas for creating a feedback loop so you can grab any praise, or fix any issues, before your customer gets to their web browser.
1. Ask them!
If you do business with your customers face-to-face, please make sure you are asking them how you are doing. Customers don't always feel like they can complain without being prompted. I don't know about you, but I have had plenty of mediocre experiences that I would have told someone about, if they had simply asked.
2. E-mail them
Do all of your follow up e-mails have a "P.S. Please let us know how we can make our company better?" at the bottom of them? That's a missed opportunity to collect immediate feedback. Take it one step further and send your customers a survey, but don't make it too complex or they will not find the time to complete it. Simply ask, "Would you recommend us to your friends? Please explain your answer." It's that simple!
3. Show them you care
A hairdresser once told me that she wished more people would simply tell her that they didn't like their new cut and color (instead of going home and stewing on it and never returning). She wanted to fix it. I suggested that she should have signs everywhere that encouraged immediate feedback. "Don't like your haircut? Don't leave the salon without telling us. We want to fix it!" Let your customers know where they can provide feedback and they'll feel more confident in doing so, and less likely to do it anonymously on a website.
4. Create a feedback loop
Like I mentioned above, I had a fantastic stay at the hotel, but if that had not been the case, I hope they had a system in place to escalate any complaints to someone that could not only fix my situation, but could also assess whether it warranted further investigation. Sure, your customers want to be heard, but they also want to know that any issues will be fixed so they can feel confident in returning to you—and recommending you to their friends.
Remember, most customers only complain when they are having a truly horrible experience. There are many more that don't speak up, despite their experience with your business being merely "meh." Those are the ones you need to encourage to provide feedback. By doing so, you'll also likely hear from all those customers that think you are simply great.
Next week, I'll share some tips on how to turn positive feedback into tangible revenue!