Having Business Problems? Ask your customers, they know why.

LoriAnne Hancock By LoriAnne Hancock, 15th May 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Business>Analysis

While you are racking your brain to figure out why business is down, a host of people have pieces to the puzzle. Once you figure out how to gather these pieces, the picture will become clearer.

Customer Follow-Up via the Phone

Sometimes, when you are running a business, gaining a birds eye view can give perspective renewed. The best way to do this is to make follow-up satisfaction calls to your customers. If you are a large business, include your employees and business associates in this and you will be well on your way to finding out information you didn't even know you wanted.

Many times a third party is the most effective way to gather information, because employees and customers may feel stifled telling their most important impressions to you personally or someone who works within your system. Either way, you start with a list. Let's say a list of the last 100 people you have done business with. It doesn't matter if it was a large purchase or a small purchase, these are the people who can make all the difference in what is on the agenda for your next planning session.

What you are looking to do is provide an opportunity for your customer to share what is 'on top' of their mind regarding doing business with you. They may not have even thought about why they chose you, but the question will spark their answer and solidify the reasons in their minds as well as yours.

Here is a suggestion for a loose script:

Hello, this is ________ calling with ____________. I was hoping to speak with ________, is s/he available? (Once your contact is confirmed) - I just wanted to get a feel for your satisfaction with our company, Do you have a moment for me?

It is very important that you ask; 'Do you have a moment for me?' Before you are granted the time, you don't know what that person might be in the middle of. If they say "Yes", now you have their attention if not their full attention. You have already told them the purpose of your call, so they should be letting what is important to them rise to the top of their thinking by now. If they do not grant you time, say; 'Thank you for doing business with us, we will try to reach you at a better time.'

Most people are very grateful to be asked their opinions and eager to share. As they are speaking, write down key information they are imparting next to their name on the list. Normally, the call will fall into one of three categories of those you make contact with.

* Satisfied and why
* Needs more information
* Problem or area of concern

You will make no excuses, just receive and write down the information. If you encounter a problem or area of concern, you will want to empathize (I'd probably feel that way too if it happened to me), apologize (I'm sorry that happened), and assure (I will be relating this information to the proper department, thank you for sharing).

If you make three attempts to reach each of your hundred customers, you will be able to provide yourself statistics on the total outcomes of the follow-up satisfaction calls. Other information you will find valuable is to confirm information such as address, phone, e-mail, whatever you like to collect. You will be surprised how many changes there will be to this information. Also, keep track of if they say, 'Thank you for Calling', or 'Appreciate the Call'.

Here are some random information I have collected from customers of my clients:

(Furniture Store) "What am I going to do with the BIG BOX my stove came in? They said to keep it in case I have a problem and need to send it back?"
Solution: Have the delivery people break down the box and ask for a place in the garage where it can be stored in case they need it when they move or something. Creating insecurity regarding the purchase at delivery time and a BIG BOX to remind them their major purchase may 'fail' is the wrong message.

(Membership Association) "We want to belong, but the one benefit we signed up for, and the reason we joined has failed to provide adequate services for our company."
This could be individual or systemic. Good to find out though, memberships depend on vendors being available to the members.

(Electronics Store) "We love our new system. In fact, we wanted to come down to the store and look at expanding to the outside deck." What every business wants to hear!

Approaching your first customers, your employees, is a bit more complex in nature, but well worth the effort. In my opinion, every business needs an arm who provides follow-up services. Start with a smaller list if you want. Believe me, your customers will remind you why you started your business in the first place and keep the fire kindled that drives you.


Business Management, Business Owner, Business Planning, Business Study, Business-To-Business Services, Businesses, Customer, Customer Care, Customer Feedback, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Service, Customer-Service, Employee, Employee Relations, Employee Relationship, Employee Wellness, Employees, Process

Meet the author

author avatar LoriAnne Hancock
Avid student of the human condition who believes we will triumph in the end by caring for ourselves, all life and our planet as if all were precious.

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author avatar Retired
15th May 2013 (#)

Good content.

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author avatar LoriAnne Hancock
15th May 2013 (#)

Thanks Sam. Appreciated.

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author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
25th Jul 2013 (#)

Nice work... yet more analysis of data and screening are required while making decisions on customers' views...Data reliability and validity are important to sort out..

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author avatar LoriAnne Hancock
25th Jul 2013 (#)

Md Rezaul Karim, thank you. When you receive the quoted and paraphrased feedback, you can then look at it and determine more about how the comments are valid and, of course, is your customer a reliable source. Keep in mind that employees are a business's first and most important customer. They will treat your second customers similarly to how the business management treats them.

Keep in mind, when someone is asked an open-ended question, what is important to THEM about the transaction rises to the top. If it is important to them, it is likely going to be important to you as the business owner.

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