For me every Monday is like a fresh beginning. I start out full of energy and a big list of things that needs to get done. But when rolling over my to-do list there is always a small number of items that just never seem to get completed because I’ve simply gotten caught up in the day to day.
As small businesses owners we are often so busy finding customers, getting orders, delivering services or products and collecting payments that we barely find time to stop and look around.
Maybe your customer feedback survey is one of those items that keeps getting rolled over; maybe you think it’s a luxury. Believe me it’s not.
Keeping more customers makes it easier to get orders and customer feedback helps you to keep customers.
Customers Will Not Tell You What They Think To Your Face
It’s true that you speak to your customers every day and probably believe you know exactly what they think of your business and that they’d naturally just tell you if anything was wrong. But remember, telling someone the truth when that truth is negative is difficult and so most people avoid saying anything.
What’s more, in a small business you will be close to your customers. They know you and you know them. That makes it even harder for them to tell you the negative things that may be driving them away from your business.
The information you need the most, what they dislike about your business, is the information they are least likely to tell you. So you have to actively solicit that feedback and in the right way.
Yes there will always be a few people that tell you what they think regardless, but they are in the minority. If you really want to know what the customers of small businesses are thinking you need to give them an anonymous way to provide you feedback though a customer feedback survey.
That anonymity will give them the freedom to tell you more clearly what you are doing well but more importantly, what you are not doing well.
Only then will you know what they really think. Only then will you really know what changes are required.
By systematically collecting information on what drives customers away and correcting those issues you can keep your customers longer. Keeping customers longer reduces the load and cost of marketing your business.
You Can Be Too Close To Your Customers
As you go about your daily work you can get too involved in the business which makes it difficult to really get a flavour for what your customers think. This is a common problem for small businesses.
Stepping back and really listening to what customers are saying allows you to divorce yourself from the here and now and really listen to what they are saying.
Often they will be telling you what you are doing well so you can reinforce those elements. But they will also tell you what you need to fix or change in your business.
On The Other Hand You Aren’t As Close To Your Customers As You Think Either
“I know my customers” is the catch cry of many, most, small businesses. This is mostly correct. You are closer to your customers than the CEO of General Electric will ever be to his or hers.
However, just because you are closer doesn’t mean you know everything. You must still collect and use customer feedback so you know what to change in your business to ensure that you are serving their needs for the long term.
I’ve been working in the customer feedback industry for 10 years. In a “plumber with leaky pipes at home” moment I was reviewing our customer feedback and found that our customers were telling us they want to buy more from us. Basically they were asking us to contact them more as we had more services they wanted to buy.
If we hadn’t been listening to our customer feedback we would have been making our customers unhappy and losing sales at the same time. My point is that no one really knows their customers unless they ask.
You Need To Innovate To Keeps Customers Long Term
Business moves forward and if you are not moving forward you are falling behind. Some of that innovation comes from you but it also comes from your customers.
It is rumoured that Henry Ford said
”If I had asked my customers what they wanted they would have said a faster horse” [Tweet this Quote]
Which is true. But if he had not listened to their needs afterwards we would still be hand starting our cars and wearing driving goggles.
Customer feedback surveys provide an invaluable place for customers to let you know about the innovation they desire. That’s not to say that every single piece of feedback with be an innovation nugget but you only need a couple of nuggets a year to drive your business forward.
It can seem daunting (and scary) to run a feedback process but it doesn’t have to be.
The easiest way is to use our The Complete Small Business Customer Feedback Kit but it’s not essential. If you don’t want to do that how about simply asking what they think of how you’re delivering the next time you’re on the phone or see them face to face.