Make It Easy


Thursday, May 3, 2001

Customer feedback
is good for you

In the past several columns we have discussed ways to make it easy for customers to do business with you. Here are a few more suggestions:

Make it easy for customers to give you feedback. One of the great sins in business is close-mindedness. We think we have it all figured out, or that we know our stuff because we've been doing it this way for decades. If we are not willing to hear what our customers have to say, we face the real prospect of going out of business.

Create a feedback system that is easy for your customers to use. There are both formal and informal methods. You may try pre-paid postcards at the counter or short questionnaires in their billing envelopes. There are excellent local companies that provide customer surveys and "shopper" services.

The easiest and least-expensive method is to be accessible. We used to call that MBWA -- management by walking around.

I love it in a restaurant when the owner stops by and asks how my service was. I'm impressed when a supervisor notices that I look upset and asks if there is a problem. We all want to know that we are special and that our well-being matters to the companies we support with our hard-earned cash.

Know that your attitude will be mirrored in your staff. Make sure employees understand that you welcome customers' feedback. Remind them that, according to mainland research, only 4 percent of our customers will tell us if they are upset. Welcome complaints with an open mind. Your customers are saying, "Help me fix this so I don't have to go find another vendor." We all know that finding a new doctor, repair shop, bank, or any service is a hassle. Most people would rather stay with a known quantity than explore the unknown. When you are unwilling to hear the complaint, or when an employee lets their ego get in the way, you are forcing that customer to go to your competitors. And that's just dumb. It's hard enough to stay in business without being your own competition.

Next week, more tips to make your customers happy.

Beth Terry is president of Pacific Rim Seminars.
This column is excerpted from her upcoming book,
101 Ways to Make Your Life Easier. Send questions
on management, customer service and other issues

E-mail to Business Editor

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