disconnecting the store owner who happened to overhear the conversation
could not help himself but ask “Anita you are the cook at Mrs. Kings.
Why did you call her to fill your own position” Anita replied, “I just
wanted to check how I was doing”
It is wise for any individual to
gauge his performance. This helps him improve on areas that need
fine-tuning; it encourages him to do better; helps him understand his
worth in the market; it helps him grow.
In today’s fast paced business
environment, where any given opportunity is grabbed to edge out
competition it has become extremely vital for company’s to do all
possible to stay ahead of the rest. But to get there you must primarily
know your own performance. You need to know if your performance meets
customer requirements. And this is possible when you receive feedback on
how you are doing.
The obvious answer that comes to
mind is to ask customers themselves. While this is true, there are
other sources that help give insight on the various areas of your
operations. Feedback from these various sources if heard pragmatically
would help the company improve and go a long way.
It is not how you think you are doing, that
matters. All that matters is how customers think you are doing.
I took my daughter ice-skating a
couple of weeks ago. Behind the counter where you collect skating boots
was a small A4 size board. Neatly written on it was “If you are happy
with our service, tell others. If not, tell us”. There could not be a
more direct and honest request asking customers to spread the word about
good service. And in the same breath showing a willingness to improve,
should it be otherwise. “PLEASE TELL US”.
Solicited or not, customer
feedback gives you an idea of how you are doing. When you ask him he
starts to look around and see what would make him happier. And when you
know what would please him more, you can work on meeting it. His
feedback is worth its weight in gold. If it comes unsolicited hear him
out carefully, thank him profusely, think of a way to reward his good
gesture, let him feel proud that he did a great deed by suggesting,
think about what he said and improve.
How often do you see “YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME” or similar? How often do you see vendors treating it with total earnestness?
Any customer who complains should be your
friend. He has taken the time to tell you about areas that need
improvement. It is coming straight from the horse’s mouth. He is telling
you as he sees it, without mincing words. In all his anger and
frustration he is also indirectly implying “DO IT RIGHT THE NEXT TIME,
IF YOU WANT ME TO COME BACK”. He is giving you that golden opportunity
to improve. So, take good care of him. Go the extra mile. Reward him for
the initiative taken to complain. See that he benefits from his
complaint as much as you do with his feedback. Convert his complaint to
Customer satisfaction surveys
This is the commonest ways of gauging your
performance. A well thought out and structured questionnaire gives
insight to all key areas in the organization. It is normally conducted
by professionals who do the survey and analyze data from all possible
angles. However it does not always give a clear picture behind many a
“Yes” “No” or “Maybe” Even scales of 1-10 only give a fair idea of
customer trends but not his perceptions.
If you are concerned about
improvement, probe those “No’s” and “Maybe’s”. See how to convert it to a
“Yes”. This of course is possible when the satisfaction survey is an
in-house exercise as you can immediately follow every “No” and “Maybe”
with a “Why”. Working for the company you are in a better position to
understand customer feelings, requirements and interpretations to their
answers. Again, never forget to reward your targets for the time and
effort they are putting to answer your questions. You could ask them to
keep the pen you provided along with the questionnaire or a free sample
pack to follow. This encourages them to pause, think and answer instead
of giving indifferent replies just to get rid of you.
Beyond customer feedback, a shrewd organization
can gather information from various other departments within. One such
place is accounts receivables. While there has been no untoward incident
with your customer, the moment you go to ask for money he invariably
has a comment either on our service, product, delivery, quality,
attitude etc etc before parting with the cheque. It is natural. After
all he is paying you and so while performing the act of payment he is
one up on you. Be wise to hear him out. Even if the element of truth is
only one percent, it makes sense to consider his comments. A shrewd
organization should tap this source for valuable customer feedback.
You have seen employees simmering for years and
years while working with the organization. The moment he has a better
offer and has put in his resignation, all his pent- up feelings surge. A
dormant volcano has suddenly turned live.
You want to know how you are doing? Well, ask him.
An exit interview helps the
company gather important information about the working environment that
affects employees that in turn affect customers. It gives insight to
processes and possible flaws. The interview could turn a treasure house
of information of how to do things better. He could tell you about
bottlenecks, spokes in the wheel, whether systems support performance
and much more. You could gather information that you never imagined
happened in the company. But remember, exit interviews should be
conducted after all exit formalities have been completed. This gives
confidence and courage for the candidate to speak freely and voice his
opinion. Think about it.
Another source of feedback would
be our agents, distributors, franchisees, retailers and any type of
middlemen whose satisfaction matters equally in our business success.
Being business partners, they are equally concerned and outspoken about
our service and performance.
Any company that maintains an
open-minded attitude towards feedback can gear themselves to ensure more
satisfied customers. They are the ones that will see more customers and
more business. They will in time be far ahead of the rest in their