One of the challenges of being a business advisor is only being able to advise businesses that actually ask for it. Sometimes a business totally misunderstands customer service and I’m left with a strong urge to say something like “Please don’t do that, it’s a terrible idea”.
One case in point came last week. In a bizarre coincidence, two clients spoke to me in the space of an hour about an identical problem. You might have experienced it yourself, the “unilateral” Internet Browser switch. All of a sudden you or your team cannot use the internet through your regular browser because a different browser company has hi-jacked your permission to install themselves as your default supplier.
The process works on some variation of the following. An enticing email or download is available, which the user clicks, only to discover (after the event) that the browser company has hidden a form of permission-gathering within their small print, and left a ‘bot’ on the user’s computer to change the default internet browser.
The problem for my clients is that they both use Internet-based software services which are best supported through the original browser. In addition both companies had set up their Internet access on company computers through a specific browser in order to make navigation and training predictable and easy for everyone.
In short, both clients rely on the Internet for critical aspects of their business, and browser companies attempting to “land-grab” internet traffic for their own ends is a serious nuisance. The resultant chaos and confusion has caused both clients considerable cost and irritation.
Of course, it might be that I’m being very naïve about this matter. It may well be a calculated and deliberate action on behalf of the perpetrators to risk some audience dissatisfaction in order to gain market share. If so, I can’t help but think that’s a fundamentally misguided strategy. Can being an irritation ever lead to proper customer satisfaction and your business success?
Which invites the question, how can a business avoid irritating customers and how can they capture useful feedback?
I met recently with a customer experience specialist who spends his time trying to improve customer experience and service. Nigel Greenwood has spent a number of years examining customer satisfaction in a range of small and large businesses. Nigel encourages businesses to invest time collecting customer feedback and to map the journey any prospect or customer has through your organisation.
When you map a customer’s journey through your service, you learn about what works well and what causes irritation. You learn the unintended consequences of processes that you think will work easily.
The conclusion is that if you understand what customers find easy to buy and value then you can do more of it. If you ignore what they dislike and distrust, then you run the risk of reduced sales and possible business failure.
The attraction of gathering customer feedback is that there are really only 4 basic questions for measuring customer feedback:
1. What did we do well?
2. How could we have done it better?
3. What else could we have done for you?
4. How do you feel about doing business with us?
If you adapt these questions to fit your business, and make sure that you always use open questions (beginning with who, how, what, why or when) then you can capture vital information to delight your customers (and not irritate them).
One final thought. I’m currently working with a business owner who’s reluctant to ask for customer feedback. He’s worried that he’d be “hassling” customers, and that if he irritates them, they’ll go elsewhere. I’m certain he’s wrong, not least because he cares about making his customers happy, and customers tend to react well when they see a supplier cares.
If you treat any customer feedback dialogue like a normal conversation, thanking the customer for bothering to feed back, then the customers you want to deal with are likely to feel engaged and valued, not hassled.
People who want good service are incentivised to offer useful opinions about any service. On that basis, maybe we should all commit to completing one feedback survey a day?
If you would like more information or advice about how you can map your customers' journeys and improve customer satisfaction, contact NickEmail Nick
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