The specific things about your specific industry and the specific ways that your business serves customers are, well specific to you and your business. We've previously covered the 5 surprising things that piss customers off, but these are generic, customer-service issues and are really the base-line for providing good service. What we're talking about today is the need to periodically assess your business from the eyes of your customers to work out how you could better meet their needs.
You could pay an expensive research firm to run focus groups or prepare surveys, but the simpler method is to have a heart-to-heart with 20 of your best customers.
Probe with Open-Ended Questions
Don't pre-empt what the answers might be, instead allow the customer to take time responding with their own comments. Ask questions like;
- What could we be doing better?
- What do you find frustrating about our service?
- How else could we help you?
- In an ideal world, what could have been different about this experience?
Show them you care about their response by actively listening and rephrasing their responses. Make it your mission to find out where their pain is.
Determine the Top 5
Take notes as you conduct each of your 'customer probes'. Then when you have 20 (or at least 10), categorise their responses and sum them up to find your top five.
Some of them might be things you hadn't expected. Maybe (probably) even something outside the industry norms – which is exactly the type of thing you should think about implementing.
For instance, it could be something like;
- different opening hours (eg a bank that opened at 8am and/or closed at 7pm, or a tradesperson that visits onsite after-hours)
- complementary services offered at the same time (eg a hairdresser that offered manicure / beauty services while you wait for your colour to set)
- an easy returns form and process (for online businesses especially)
- free shipping (build in the cost rather than add it on at the end)
- a way to book online (eg physios, gyms, hairdressers, beauticians etc)
- an extra, complimentary product (could a fish'n'chip shop provide salads, a gym provide massages, an accountant provide a filing system, or a mechanic provide a car wash?)
- extra services associated with the core product you sell (could a clothing store provide a styling service, or a nursery provide landscape design advice?)
- providing something extra to suit a particular type of customer (could a cafe offer a kids zone where all the kids eat on small tables and chairs, or could a mechanic pick up your car for servicing and drop it back once its finished?)
Be the business to revolutionise your industry and you'll soon have customers beating down your door!