We spend way too much time in “I think I know” land especially when it comes to customers. We make huge decisions based on “my best guess is” or “it seems like…”
There’s absolutely no reason for you to not know what your customers are thinking. Here are a few ways (short of the brain probes in the photo) to ferret out exactly what’s going on in there.
Secret Shopping with a Twist: Invite your customers to sign up to be secret shoppers. Let them sign up on your website and pick a good blend of them. Then, after every experience (or in a given time interval) give them a little form to fill out, rating performance,, quality, or whatever else you want to know. Every time they send in their form (or submit it, if you put it online) they get some reward.
Bonus: Even those you don’t select will now know you want their feedback. So they’ll speak up more often.
Create a customer survey: Just ask them already! Afraid of what they’ll say? Steve Olenski’s tells us in a recent post that we shouldn’t worry about that. In fact, according to the study he cites — most customers who participate in surveys (even if they have a tough message to deliver) care about the company and want it to be successful. That’s why they invest the time in answering your questions. We do these for clients all the time and it’s remarkable what we learn and how tiny tweaks (that you learned about in the survey) can change the customer experience.
Bonus: They feel important and valued because you asked.
Create a customer board of advisors: If you are going to be making some big decisions, why not create an elite group of your best customers (the ones you’d like many more of) and bring them together monthly or quarterly for a couple hours. This requires you being willing to bare it all — they can’t give you good advice if they don’t know the whole picture. But their insights, questions and counsel will amaze you.
Bonus: They shift from customers to full on evangelists for your organization.
There are, of course, more ways to check in with your customers. Some may be better suited for your industry than others. But… guessing is never the best choice.
What say you? How do you stay in touch with your consumers?