Outsourced call centers, a never ending array of voicemail menu prompts, and layer upon layer of organizational hierarchy—customer service practices that have become commonplace at most big businesses also happen to be potential killers when it comes to collecting and responding to customer feedback.
As a small business owner you have the unique opportunity to interact with your customers in person, over the phone, or online on a daily basis.
Because you’re on the front lines, you can react to feedback with stone cold speed—just the reason you should always take every bit of customer feedback you receive personally.
I don’t mean getting into a huff every time someone has something negative to say about your business, I mean taking a step back to hear what it is your customers are saying about you--both good and bad.
It’s easy to focus on the positive comments and so you should.
Thank your customers for taking the time to provide their input. Share the feedback with your team. Recognize your top performers (something as simple as a verbal thank you, pat on the back, or gift card can go a long way to creating a culture of customer service). Use the feedback to identify those things you’re doing right and look for ways to replicate them.
It’s also easy to get defensive and brush off the negative comments and that’s definitely a huge mistake.
For whatever reason, most customers only like to provide feedback when they’re super angry. And when they do, they usually say some silly and often hurtful things.
But just because they might sound like a jerk doesn’t mean there isn’t a nugget of truth behind their comments. As hard as it may be, you’ve got to strip away the vitriol so you can get at the underlying issues.
We’ve all heard the saying “Feedback is a gift” and that couldn’t be more true when it comes to being a small business owner. When you take customer feedback personally, that means you’re actually going to listen and react to what your customers are saying.
And that can be an incredibly powerful tool that will not only help you differentiate yourself from your competitors both large and small but is also bound to create a lot of happy campers.
How are you using feedback to drive your customer service efforts?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.
By: Shawn Graham
[Image: Flickr user Aaron Goodwin]