Customers are the lifeblood of any business, yet their value extends far beyond just making the cash register ring. They can be a treasure trove of ideas and innovation. In this article, I will talk about simple ways to gather and use customer feedback and how we have done so to grow our business.
I have a wonderful coach/mentor/teacher, Dr. Joseph Umidi, Executive VP of Regent University, whose specialty is Life Coaching. He says, “Feedback and reflection are the breakfast of champions.” Though this is a coaching concept, it strongly applies to the relationship between a business and its customers. How does a business, small or large, get feedback and what does one do with it? A simple Google search shows that there are a vast array of custom designable surveys available that can be done for little to no cost. While those provide valuable data, nothing beats old fashioned face to face conversation with a customer.
The key to gathering useful feedback is to have real conversation with the customer, not just ordinary superficial conversation. This requires three primary things:
- The ability to spend a little time with him or her.
- The ability to effectively listen at a deeper level to what the customer is saying.
- 3. The ability to ask the right questions.
Having been coached in these areas, I can definitively say that most people really do not listen deeply or ask good questions in a conversation. The good news is, these skills can be learned and are very helpful, not just in business, but in any relationship.
The next step is to process the feedback. This is commonly called reflection, which involves thoughtfully considering not just the words given, but the motivation behind what was said and where the customer was “coming from”.
We used these principles in gathering and processing customer feedback in our business. As a result, we expanded our offerings and gained clients in an area we hadn’t considered when we first opened. This broadened our customer base and improved our bottom line.
I could not have done that without having been professionally coached, and I strongly encourage businessmen and women to consider going through the coaching process with a certified coach. Our increased business has significantly more than paid the cost of the coaching, and we have retained customers by showing our genuine interest in them, their thoughts, concerns and ideas.