Some people mistakenly believe that if customers aren’t complaining, they must be happy. What they don’t realize is most unhappy customers never communicate their concerns or tell you why they’re unhappy, they simply “vote with their feet” and never come back.
Customers often don’t have the time, energy, or heart to tell you that you’re no longer meeting their needs. Therefore, don’t assume that no communication means you’re doing great. Don’t wait until you start losing customers to find out how you could improve. Ask a few good questions and you’ll be surprised what you’ll learn about how to meet or exceed your customers’ expectations. Checking in with customer satisfaction also communicates that you really care that customers aren’t just “okay” with your products or services, but are delighted with them!
Here are 10 questions you should be asking your customers on a regular basis:
1. HOW may I help you?
Most people ask, “CAN I help you?” Hmm, let me see. If you don’t know whether you’re capable of helping, how am I supposed to?
“How may I help you?” implies that you’re capable and just need the customer to share his or her needs. Additionally, saying “Can I help you?” is a closed question to which you’re likely to receive a yes or no answer. “How can I help you?” allows each customer to communicate his or her specific needs, which will not only help you better serve that specific customer, but can also help you identify trends that should be addressed in your products, services, or customer service.
2. What did you like BEST about your experience with us today?
The answer to this question let’s you know what you’ve done well and what you should continue doing. It also lets you know what your customer prioritizes in his or her experience with your organization.
3. How can we make your next experience (or visit) even better?
Asking how you can make their experience even better, rather than asking how your service fell short, is an easier question for customers to feel comfortable answering. The former is positively phrased–you’re asking your customer to help you. The latter is asking the customer to provide criticism, which they’re often hesitant to do.
4. Which of our products (or services) do you like best?
When space is at a premium on your shelves, or you have a long list of services you’re trying to provide, it’s great to know which of them your customers truly come to you for. This information will help you focus on what your customers feel you do best and allow you to do it even better.
5. What products would you like to see us carry (or services would you like us to provide)?
Just because your customers like your existing products or services doesn’t mean additional products or services couldn’t enhance their experience. If there are things that they need that they’re getting elsewhere, find out what they are and decide if it’s a “right fit” for your organization to provide them. If not, find a great resource or provider you can refer customers to.
I can hear what you’re thinking right now, “Refer customers to someone else? GASP!” However, when you provide a referral to a reputable source, you’re telling your customer you care about more than just making money. You’re communicating that your goal is to truly SERVE. When you do, they’ll continue to come back to you for the products and services you do best!
6. What keeps you coming back to us?
It could be your one-of-a-kind product or exceptional service, or something intangible. However, it’s important to know what keeps customers coming back so:
A. You can keep doing/providing it
B. You can capitalize on it in your marketing and advertising through testimonials, statistics, and more.
7. Do you refer your friends/family/colleagues to us?
Don’t assume happy customers are actively promoting your business– they’re busy too! If the answer to this question is “no,” or “I’m not sure how,” you need to help by communicating information about your organization that your loyal customers can easily share with others. The bottom line, you need to convert your best customers to customer-advocates and champions.
8. Who do you know who could also benefit from our products/services?
This advice is tied to #7 above. Customers are busy and for all they know, you don’t need any more business. Sometimes you just have to ask for the referral! I’ve run into many people who hesitate to do this because they don’t want to seem desperate or lacking for business. That’s fine. If you have more business or more customers than you know what to do with, great. But I don’t and neither do most of the people I know. Take note of how the question is phrased. It doesn’t say, “I’m not sure I can pay my bills this month, can you help me out by helping me find more business?” The question is confident and focused on the customer. We’d all like to be able to help more people- that’s why many of us are doing the work we do. We just need to find them!
9. What can I do to make this situation right for you?
When something goes wrong, your instinct is probably to jump in and “fix it.” However, what you see as a great solution, might leave your customer feeling shortchanged.
Many people are afraid to ask this question because they don’t want to hear the answer.
For example, you might only be able to offer the customer a credit and you’re afraid to ask what he wants, because the answer will likely be “a refund.” However, just because you don’t ask the question, doesn’t mean that’s not what the customer wants. At least if you ask, the answer is out in the open and you can address it.
10. Why did you leave us?
As much as people hate to ask this question, when you lose a customer, find out why. Don’t make up stories in your mind to justify a lost customer, “I didn’t like her anyway,” or “They’re just too cheap to afford us.” You’ll have no idea why someone has really moved on until you ask. Additionally, don’t try to “hard-sell” or beg the customer to come back. Genuinely seek information to help you improve for the future.
This is certainly not a complete list of questions you might need to ask your customers, it’s just a start. What questions would you add to this list? Comment and let me know.