In a world where the customer experience is becoming increasingly emphasized and relevant and where more businesses are paying attention and looking to make improvements, it is important to ask ourselves if we are asking the right questions.
If your business uses a customer satisfaction survey, have you read the questions? Are they the “right” questions? Are they questions of “hygiene”, i.e. how was the phone answered, did the person at the front desk smile, etc? Or are they questions that let the customer tell you how they felt and how your team could do a better job?
While procedural questions may be important in certain contexts, how a customer feels about their interaction with you and your team, and whether they would recommend your practice to their family, friends and colleagues are generally far more important. Does your survey ask something along the lines of “How could we improve our service?” or “How could we do a better job?”
And yes, we said “feel”. People make decisions largely based on how they feel and then justify with facts, data and logic. When we lead with data and facts to recommend ourselves to them and their circles, we don’t make an emotional connection and can often bore them. But how they feel about the overall interaction they have experienced with your business is far more likely to guide their decisions around coming back, acceptance of your recommendations, compliance with their plan of care, and whether they recommend your business to their friends, family and colleagues.
A “best practice”, and there is usually more than one “best” way, is to use the Net Promoter® Score (NPS) and then follow up with those people who respond. Those who score you below a 9 are especially important. On a 0-10 point scale, people who rate your business a 7 or 8 are neutral, they aren’t likely to mention you. And those who rate you 6 or below are detractors, they are likely to say negative things about your business. Having someone on your team call each and every person who gives you a score below a 9 is a great way to learn what your customers want, what things your team is doing that do not make them feel special and important, and how you can improve their experience.
The 9s and 10s are your promoters, or raving fans. Those are the people likely to recommend you. These are important to follow up with, too, to engage and thank. These are the people to ask for a referral, or to provide an easy way for them to share your business with others who might need your product or service.
The way to approach the neutrals and detractors is to thank them for providing you feedback, and ask the question, “How could we have done better?” And let them talk.
Allow them to finish, pause, continue, without interruption. If they pause too long or appear finished, ask “What else?” Ask “what else” until they can’t think of anything. You want them to feel heard, and you want to identify patterns, the same or similar things coming from multiple customers.
If there is something you think you can solve for them right then, ASK them if they would like you to solve that for them. Don’t just volunteer the solution(s). Ask them. This is a great way to improve your own listening and to verify that you really heard what is important to them. It will also verify that what they have told you is really the issue. And if there is nothing for you to solve right now, thank them for their candor and honesty and let them know that they have been heard. Sometimes that is the most important thing you can do.
And we also recommend another great article on asking effective questions around customer service and the customer experience.