I know this is going to resonate with so many people and you will say, “Hal, you are right about this.” At least every two days, I receive an email asking me to tell the company that I just had a transaction with to fill out a short survey about my recent experience.
Before I continue on my rant – and hopefully business owners are reading this as well – I must disclose I am a former CEO of Direct Opinions, which was one of America’s leading companies that conducted customer follow-up phone calls to elicit feedback about a customer’s experience. We conducted millions of calls and after a great run, I sold the company in 1990 to concentrate on building a new career as an author and sales consultant.
The nonstop “asks” are very annoying for one major reason – nothing happens.
We have all had great experiences where we really do want to thank a company in some way, and maybe even recognize or single out a person for a job well done. Hopefully, someone rather than a computer will read the comments we shared and pat that person on their back, or provide some sort of recognition to emphasize them going above and beyond.
On the other hand, when we have a negative experience we do the same and let them know about our dissatisfactions. As I write this, I am thinking about a canceled flight on a specific airline and its non-attempt to make my travel plans convenient so I would not miss an important meeting. As a “test,” I filled out the requested survey and naturally, I never heard back even with an “I’m sorry.”
Guess what? Now, I am even more frustrated with the company due to its lack of response. Yes, the company reaching out and asking me about my experience made the situation worse.
Business owners, do you want to make your customers happy? If so, stop going through the motions and become genuine. Think about what you would want if you had a poor or great situation. Would you want to be ignored, especially after you took additional time to explain your recent frustration?
Here are common-sense ideas to satisfy your customers:
Dedicate a real person to elicit and read feedback. This is what we used to call customer service. The response back to the customer can be in any form as long as you get back to them. It doesn’t matter if you use the telephone, voice mail, email, text or even social media, as long as you respond.
If it is a positive comment, acknowledge it and let the customer know you appreciate them for taking the time to correspond and the comments will reach the appropriate person. On the other hand, if the comment is negative, what are you going to do about it? If you ignore it, you just made the customer angrier. If you give them a small token of appreciation or refund, whatever, at least you said I’m sorry and you are trying to do better. Yes, a small percent of people are crazy and can never truly be satisfied, and we all understand that. Either way, if you take the high road and say you are sorry and do something, it is way better than nothing.
Train your people to be real, have empathy and listen to the customer. Give them some power to take care of the customer and stop telling people to just say, “my pleasure” or whatever nonsense to make us think you care. Just do the right thing and really care.
It is amazing how far real and genuine can go.
Hal Becker is a nationally known speaker on sales and customer service. He is the author of numerous business books including two national best sellers “Can I Have 5 Minutes Of Your Time?” and “Lip Service.” Hal’s newest book on sales is titled “Ultimate Sales Book.” He can be reached at Halbecker.com.