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Do You Know How Your Customers Really Feel and What They Are Really Saying About You?

If not, why not?

Most entrepreneurs assume that they have happy customers. And, of course, every entrepreneur wants his customer to love his product and his company.  Yet, few know what customers are really feeling and fewer still elicit or solicit the love they seek.

Many small business owners figure they can just Google their company to see if anybody is saying anything, positive or negative about them.  Or, if they have a Facebook page, they judge the number "likes," and track anybody making ugly noises about their product or company to correct the situation.  Not nearly enough!  Because, unless all your customers are very active in social media, you aren't going to even scratch the surface of understanding how your customer base really feels.

So what's a better answer? And how do you get those customers who do love you to tell the world about it?

Ask and ye shall receive!

Get direct customer feedback after every completed sale; and, if possible, after every lost sale.  Learn why they bought...or didn't.  What they liked about the process and what they didn't. Do it as directly (telephone as opposed to email) as possible. Act on the results!

Ask and ye shall receive - Part II!

Conduct periodic customer surveys that ask hard questions you really need answers to, not just "softball" ones that beg, positive only, responses.  Don't just ask about things you know you do well. Corroboration is wonderful, but it doesn't make you a better company.  Ask questions about areas that most concern you about your product or service, your support, your sales process. And, again, act on the results! For example, Comcast asks you to complete a customer survey after every customer service call. Just to see what they'd do, I responded with the lowest rating in every question, expecting a call back, an email, or worst case a form letter, horrified at my response.  And what did I get back.  Nada!  And I've done it multiple times with the same result.  If you don't get good answers find out why!

Listen and learn!

If your product or service is conducive to it, create a User Group that can provide ongoing feedback for current features/functions, issues with your product or service's operation or delivery or future requirements.  Additionally, a User Group can provide a forum for customers to dialogue about interesting uses or applications of your product or service that enhance its value to customers.  And above, listen and learn!

Use "happy customers" to "spread the love!"

Find and know "the happy customers," through any of the customer information gathering steps noted above or from sales or support experience with them.  Have them provide a quote for your sales literature or your website.  Or go one better and create a case study around some of the more unique uses of your product or service that you can promote through your website or at trade conferences. Not only does it help you in your sales process, but it gives your customer some great exposure as well.

Make references and referrals part of your sales process!

If you respond to a lot of RFPs, build a reference list of customers who will tell a great story about your product or service when called upon.  If it fits within the way your market does business, offer referral "bounties" (discounts on products, services or support rather than bonuses or commissions that will give some organizations problems) for all new customers that come in through another customer's referral.

Happy customers are the goal of every entrepreneur. But staying on top of how customers feel and are saying about your product or company is critical to achieving and maintaining happy customers. And making sure those happy customers tell the world is critical to your entrepreneurial success.

The Entrepreneur's Yoda knows these things.  He's been there.  May success be with you!



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