“You lied! You said it wouldn’t be so bad and it is the worst ever!”
These were the words uttered by a friend’s five-year-old son who had just had his tonsils removed. A heartbreaking moment for both child and mother, as any parent can imagine. But that’s the greatest, realest, sometimes excruciating and often embarrassing thing about kids – brutal honesty without fear.
Most human beings avoid confrontation, and that means that as businesses even when we really piss them off, we will probably never hear about it. We’ll probably never see them again either, and will only be left to wonder why. Unfortunately however, they will be more than eager to tell everyone else what you did. And these days, that means 338 of their closest Facebook friends or Twitter followers.
So as a business owner, what can you do to solicit honest feedback from customers in order to perfect experiences before it’s too late?
Ask them. A lot.
And don’t just ask the obligatory “How was everything today?” Asking that will only get you the programmed response, “Fine.”
Ask better questions, and ask them in unusual ways. Imagine if you asked a customer one of these questions:
- “If you could change one thing about your experience with us today, what would it be?”
- “What would you tell a friend who asked about your experience with us today?”
- “Is there anything we could have done today to make you smile more?”
- “Do you ever shop at one of our competitors? Do you mind if I ask why?”
Of course, it’s important to be prepared for their response. Anticipate the most widely given answers and be ready to address them. But if your customer seems to be engaged, take advantage of this opportunity and ask a follow up question to dig a little deeper.
Honest feedback from our customers is one of the few real measures a business owner can use to improve the customer experience. Be brave. Ask for what you think you don’t want to know. It may not actually be the worst ever, after all.