You want to listen to your customers, but how do you get them to initiate the conversation? We've all seen the sticker on the back of semi trucks that says, "How's my driving?" Some of us have even called that number, and I'm willing to bet the majority of those calls were due to something negative.
You see, that's what we've been trained to do, give feedback when something has gone wrong. In fact, many of us have even grown accustom to the word "feedback" being a negative thing. When someone wants to give you feedback, you almost feel like you're in trouble.
This needs to change, and we can change it together.
We're asked for feedback everywhere we go. The bottom of your receipt might ask you to fill out a survey and be entered to win $10,000. The desk in your hotel has a room service menu sitting next to a comment card. You probably received an email after your last doctor's appointment that asked you to rate your visit. All of these things come from the idea that the business wants to improve, but we're so inundated with these requests that we usually shrug them off, unless (going back to the semi truck example) something made us so upset our feedback turns into more of a rant than just constructive feedback.
While that feedback is important, it's not the only feedback that is needed to truly improve our businesses. What if the dishwasher in the restaurant is on the fritz, and glasses and silverware are coming out with lipstick and food particles still stuck to them? Everyone who notices may not tell you, because it's not a big enough deal to flag someone down, but those customers might get the wrong impression of your business and - not come back.
1. Phrasing is everything.
This is where we need to stop asking for feedback and make a change. We need to make customers feel that their little piece of feedback means everything. It's not just about them giving us feedback, it's about all of us being a part of a community, and caring about each other's experiences. That goes both ways. We need to make the customer feel that their one experience with our business is the most important thing on the menu, and we also want them to know that we're in business because we love what we do.
So what's your call to action? Did you ask them the equivalent cliche to "How's my driving?" Or are you putting your company culture into the question, making the customer feel like you really care what they have to say? "Please give us your feedback" vs. "Feedback matters here" evoke very different feelings in your customers. How would you like to be asked for feedback? Think about all of the different signs you've seen and how easily you dismissed them because they were the same old thing. If feedback is really that important to you, take the extra time to think about how your customer will feel when they read your call to action. Do they feel like their little piece of feedback is worth your while?
2. Stamp your brand on it.
Remember, your brand isn't just your logo; it's what your company is all about. Do you guys joke around a lot? Maybe put up a picture of the manager scrubbing the bathroom floor with a caption, "Who's got 2 thumbs and wants to clean up your issue? This guy! Send him a text." Maybe you're a coffee shop and you're all about the quality of beans. Try saying, "Fair trade and fair treatment. Text us a Grande, double shot of your feedback."
Using simple sayings that reflect what you're all about makes your customers feel like they can be a part of what you do. After all, they're not just there for your products; they want to be a part of the great brand you've created.
3. Don't just get your employees involved, get them on board.
If customer feedback is the most important thing to keeping up the success of your business, why aren't your employees relaying this to every customer?
Probably because feedback sounds scary, and a customer talking to your boss can be terrifying. But if you help your employees to understand how more feedback can benefit them they can become your biggest asset (which they should be anyway).
Let's brainstorm quickly a couple of ways:
- Great way for employees to earn quick and easy praise from happy customers.
- Direct communication to management creates brand loyalty, leading to an increased customer base and better tips.
- Nothing gets paid more attention to than customer feedback. When employees need help getting small points across to management, customers are there to help!
Your employees want a great place to work, which you're already providing them. But when you give customers a louder voice, it helps the employees feel proud that they're helping to make a difference. So make sure your employees are making customers aware of the fact that you've provided them a direct line to you, not just some old comment card or survey.
The moral of the story
The call to action is so important it deserves more than 30 seconds of thought. Remember this is your first chance to show customers how much you care and value their thoughts, so entice them to start a conversation with you. Once the conversation is started, you have all the opportunity in the world to continue to impress your customers and not only satisfy them, but keep them coming back and bringing in their friends so they can show off what a great gem of a business they've found... one that truly cares.