Customer Feedback the Simple Way

disapproval
Guest Post Adam Ramshaw:

Do you know how your customers

think about you?… Do you really?

Guest Post by Adam Ramshaw, founder of Genroe (Australia) Pty Ltd and “Run our Survey”, http://genroe.com.au

man on ladder 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 seems 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.

disapproval 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.

You aren’t as close to your customers as you think you are 

“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 keep 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.

henry ford It is rumoured that Henry Ford said

”If I had asked my customers what they wanted they would have said a faster horse”

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.

Adam Ramshaw is the CEO of Genroe and has developed a the “The Complete Small Business Customer Feedback Kit” The kit is the easiest system available to implement a simple but effective customer feedback program in your business. Find out more at this link, click here

Contact Adam on his website with any further questions http://genroe.com.au

Turning Small Business Customers Into Raving Fans

restaurant

How can we create Raving Fans?

And let them do our marketing for us?

masterminds What does it take to make a success of your small business… how can you avoid adding to those frightening statistics about failure rates of small business.

In this series of articles and associated webinars and workshops, by Roland Hanekroot you will learn the basic concepts and get the knowledge you need to become a successful ‘Business-Owner’, as opposed to a struggling ‘Business-Doer’.

Format

The format of each episode in the “First Steps” series is to explain the basics of the topic and then in line with the principles of New Perspectives business development programs, to suggest some small simple “First Steps” you can take straight away to put the knowledge into action.

 3 Questions

customersIn this article we’ll look at your customers and ask:

How can we turn our customers into advocates for our business so that they’ll do our marketing for us?

There is an old maxim that says: ‘Your best and cheapest source of new business is in your existing customers database’

And that is so true. You know your existing customers and they know you; you know where they are and you probably know how to get hold of them and communicate with them already, and most importantly they’ve learnt to like and trust you already.

Well, I hope they do anyway.

Marketing 101

Marketing boffins refer to the ‘Cost of acquisition’ of new customers, meaning what you have to spend to get one new active customer, a customer who spends money with you.

Cost of acquisition can include all kinds of marketing costs; advertising, Google optimization, brochure delivery etc etc, down to the cost of offering a free garlic bread with a first order of Pizza from the local Dominos.

Marketing is all about balancing the cost of acquiring a new customer against the money you stand to earn from that customer.

But encouraging an existing customer to do business with you again is nearly always cheaper than finding and acquiring a new customer, because all you have to do is to pick up the phone or send them an email or something like that.

So much for Marketing 101, but here comes the interesting part: Turning your existing customers into Raving Fans has the potential to reduce your marketing investments to near zero.

How does that happen?

Let me tell you a story

Bedtime story

restaurant Once upon a time… a long, long time ago in a country not unlike Australia, Giuseppe owned an Italian restaurant in Sydney.

The restaurant employed some 20 people from kitchen hands to waiters and chefs and Giuseppe had owned the restaurant for about 5 years.

Giuseppe loved feeding his customers. The restaurant ran well and as far as Giuseppe could tell his customers were satisfied. The problem was that every time a new restaurant opened up in the area Giuseppe’s place dropped off for a while until clientele slowly started building up again. Every time Giuseppe was getting comfortable with his team and his turnover and his profit levels, there would be a new place in the street and for a couple of months Giuseppe would be losing money again.

‘It’s two steps forward and two steps back all the time’ thought Giuseppe

Giuseppe was ready to close up.

Loyalty

Working with me, Giuseppe came to realize that he needed to create a truly loyal customer base. A group of customers who were advocates for his business, Raving Fans. How do you create Raving Fans? By doing things for your customers they don’t expect, to always go one better, to truly make the customers feel at home and surprise them at every visit.

we love customersSo Giuseppe turned the culture of the restaurant around. Ordinary customer satisfaction wasn’t enough anymore. Staff were trained to ensure they knew customers by name. To record customers preferences for tables and wines and dishes. Customer’s birthdates were recorded and free dinner vouchers sent to them on their birthdays. Every time a customer had dinner they’d be given some little surprise, from a free desert or after dinner drink, to a little bon-bon to take home or a voucher to give to a friend. Any time a customer wasn’t entirely happy with their dish or service they would be given it for free. Customers would be surveyed to find out about their favorite wines or dishes and Giuseppe would make sure that these preferences would be available on the menu next time the customer came and had dinner with him. A couple of tables would always be kept free for his regular customers so they wouldn’t ever need to book on forehand. Giuseppe started free cooking classes for customers and organised wine tasting tours for his regular clientele.

Now, a couple of years later, Giuseppe’s restaurant is always full. Every day of the week… people come from far and wide. Giuseppe hasn’t spent money on advertising or any other marketing than his initiatives in the restaurant. New restaurants arrive in the area and barely cause a blib on the radar.  And best of all, Giuseppe and his staff feel that they have truly become part of the community and the community has made Giuseppe’s restaurant one of it’s institutions.

The restaurant is now consistently profitable

And Giuseppe and his very happy customers lived happily ever after… The end..

Lessons from Giuseppe

raving fan Giuseppe learnt to understand what it means to turn your customers into Raving Fans. Because when your customers are indeed Raving Fans, you don’t need to market to them anymore, they will be looking for opportunities to do more business with you. What business often don’t appreciate though is that the impact of turning your customers into Raving Fans is exponential.

Raving Fans will go out of their way to bring their friends and spread the word amongst their own networks. Raving Fans will also actively resist the attempts of the competition to win them over to their side. Raving Fans feel invested and emotionally engaged with your business and want you to do well.

There is a famous series of business management books written by Ken Blanchard, ‘The one Minute Manager Series’ and one of the books in the series is called ‘Raving Fans, why ordinary customer service isn’t good enough anymore’. Ken introduces a concept of ‘Plus One’ in the book, it’s short for ‘Find out what the customer wants, and deliver plus one percent’

The problem is that most businesses don’t take the trouble to find out what the customers really want and even if they do know they deliver inconsistently and certainly not more than the customer expects.

So if you want to reduce your marketing spend to near zero, commit to turning all your customers into Raving Fans.

Your business and your life will never be the same again… I promise you.

Take the first steps:

As mentioned in the opening paragraphs of this article, here are some ‘First Steps’ actions you can take right away, that will get you started on implementing the topics and principles of Raving Fans:

  1. Send a handwritten thank you card to your  top 10 customers
  2. Invite your favorite customer to lunch/ afl game/ golf etc
  3. Do something outrageous for the next customer you talk to
  4. Talk to your staff and give them authority to go ‘beyond reasonable’ for their customers
  5. Investigate ‘net promoter score’ customer survey system
  6. Call one customer this week for feedback
  7. Implement a monthly customer survey system (incorporating the Net Promoter scoring system).

 About the author and the Small Business Masterminds

Roland Hanekroot Roland Hanekroot is the founder of New Perspectives Business Coaching and the author of “The Ten Truths books for business owners”

To support small business owners take the first steps to building a business that sustains them for years, Roland runs a series of regular webinars called The Small Business Masterminds Foundation webinars. There are three different Foundation webinars, on Time Management, The Purpose of Business and How to have more Fun in Business.

The foundation webinars are totally free and you can find out more and register for the next one here: http://smallbusinessmasterminds.com.au

 

masterminds

 

1001 Business Bedtime Stories… Kelvin Astounds His Customers

1001 Business BeTruth 5 marketingdtime Stories…

Truth 5, Marketing

Kelvin realises that his bike shop has one great opportunity to carve out a niche for his bikeshop and build remarkable business.

Once upon a time… a long, long time ago in a country not unlike Australia…

Kelvin owned a bicycle shop in Sydney.

Selling bicycles is not easy. There is so much competition as people can buy bikes at specialist bike shops or at big retail stores like Big W and Kmart, and, like everything else these days, you can even buy bikes over the internet.

Kelvin’s bike shop was doing ok but he was worried about the effects of both the big box retailers and all the online stores. Kelvin felt constant pressure to make his prices competitive, and knew that his repair work was suffering because customers would often ask him to just fit parts they had bought themselves online.

“How can I possibly turn the ship around?” asked Kelvin.

Kelvin was worried.

The Bootcamp

Working in The Bootcamp with me, Kelvin came to appreciate that it was imperative he change his whole approach to doing business. He realised that he could never out-compete the big retailers, and that fighting over the crumbs with his fellow suburban bike shops would be a disaster.

Looking into Kelvin’s options for revitalising his business we came across a quote from Chris Zane, a bike shop owner in America: “The only difference between our competitors and us is the service we provide.”

Kelvin realised the obvious truth of this statement.

He knew there was no difference between the bikes he was selling and those sold by his competitors. He knew they were all fishing in the same pool trying to catch the same limited number of fish, and that the only way forward was to create a new pond and attract enough of the fish away from the old pond to enjoy the fishing again.

It took a lot of courage, but he did it.

Working in The Bootcamp Kelvin developed a whole new approach to running his bike shop, an approach based on providing astounding service. Kelvin was determined that the service customers received in his shop would leave them surprised and delighted.

How did Kelvin do this? A number of great ways: he implemented a life-time free flat tire repair service, he offered a no-questions-asked replacement guarantee for all bikes and accessories for up to six months after purchase, and he taught his staff that from now on the word “No” was banned and no customer request could be refused.

Soon the word started spreading about Kelvin’s astounding service, and people would come into the store just to check it out. The place was buzzing most days, and the staff loved doing whatever they could to amaze their customers.

A couple of years later, Kelvin’s business has grown so much he has just moved to a new location three times as big. With his great service Kelvin has succeeded in creating a whole new fish pond.

And Kelvin lived happily ever after… The end.

Ask yourself… Where will you find the courage to make profound things happen in your business?

Your customers and Sabre-tooth tigers.

Your customers and Sabre-tooth tigers.

There is a small almond shaped region in our brains, called the “Amygdala”. It is one of the most primitive regions deep in the base of our brains. As business owners we need to get intimately acquainted with this lump of cells in your clients’ brains, and how it affects their decision making processes. It is your clients’ Amygdala, more than anything else that decides if they are going to become your customer.

One of the functions of the Amygdala is to scan everyone and everything it comes into contact with for threats and danger; it is constantly on the lookout for who can be trusted and who can’t. It is often referred to as part of our reptile brain and dates back to the times when survival depended on being able to assess in an instant if the figure coming towards you was about to kill you, take your food or your family.

And ever since the days of the dinosaurs, and sabre tooth tigers, when men were apes, (and just as dense as they still are), rocks were used as tools and women were dragged around by their hair, it has been performing this function for us.

The Amygdala knows that threats are constant and all around us, and so it makes instant gut level decisions, and then goes on to scan for the next threat.

How does the Amygdala connect to your business?

The Amygdala is very powerful; it has the power to override pretty much all other functions of the brain, instantaneously.

So when a potential customer has an interaction with you, his or her Amygdala does its thing, and comes back with a very quick decision: friend or foe. Once it has made this decision it sends signals out to the rest of the brain to become more or less guarded.

If the signal is positive, other parts of the brain, slightly higher up are activated to start looking for more positives. And here is the thing: this whole process takes place entirely at an unconscious level. The client has no idea that all of this turmoil is taking place deep inside his/her brain. He/She won’t even start to become conscious in some way of this process for somewhere between 15 to 30 seconds. But one thing is clear: The essential decision to buy from you or not is made in that timeframe (except that client doesn’t know it yet).

Pain and pleasure

When I say that the client has made the unconscious decision to become your customer, I am not talking about a decision in the way that we normally think of a decision. The word “decision” implies a conscious process. What it really means is that the client in his/her whole being has decided that you are safe, and a friend, and that either a pleasure will be gained from being with you or a pain will be relieved.

This is a very good feeling for the client. When he/she gets this feeling he/she starts looking for ways and reasons (or excuses) to prolong it. And the most obvious way to prolong this feeling is to do business with you. (Remember, we are still very much at the mercy of our primitive emotions, it is a scary world outside the cave, we crave this feeling of safety constantly and we are social beings, safety in numbers)

Confusion

But keep in mind that the client doesn’t actually know that this is what he/she is doing and what his/her primitive brain is leading him to, and hence it is very easy to confuse the client at this stage. As soon as he/she receives a message that doesn’t fit with his/her first primitive assessment of you, his/her brain will start to go around in circles, a bit like a computer that responds to some input with an error message “Does not compute”.

We don’t have to be neuroscientists to understand that a client in this confused state is not going to buy anything. A confused client will focus on getting “un-confused” instead. Being confused puts the Amygdala back in a heightened state of arousal, and while that goes on, buying decisions simply won’t be made.

That is the story of:
The customer,
The Amygdala and
The Sabre-tooth tiger

Awareness of this principle has many consequences for how we as business owners should approach our marketing. I believe the following 5 steps are the first ones to focus on:

Be absolutely clear in your own mind what pain it is that you relieve or what pleasure you give your customers.

Be clear in your own mind what the promise is that you make to your customers

Decide what basic emotions you want to evoke in the depths of your clients brain (safety, confidence, relief etc.)

Live and breathe the qualities that are most likely to evoke those emotions – the first 30 seconds – (what you say, what you ask, how you look, your handshake, your confidence, your passion and clarity has to shine through)

Explain your promise to the client and confirm the emotions you evoked in the first 30 seconds (this is about all the subsequent messages you send, your email, your website, your documents, the graphics, your logo, your voicemail message, every bit of information you give to the client will all be evaluated against his/her need to confirm her initial emotional assessment of you)

These steps will lead to clients becoming customers over and over.

Customers become advocates

From here of course the real work of your business starts. Now it is all about delivering on the promise you made to the client in the first place. If your business delivers on the promises you make, time after time, without fail, new customers will continue to do business with you for a very long time. Better yet, by delivering on your promise without fail, customers will become your advocates to everyone they know and meet. And when that happens, those first 30 seconds are largely taken care of before you even come in contact with clients. Your customer/advocate will already have put the clients’ Amygdalas at ease and they will be looking to confirm their decision right from the first moment they shake your hand.

Further reading: