Most successful organizations understand the importance of making their customers happy. These businesses recognize that customers provide the revenue to pay the bills and are the financial life-line to the organization.
There are many ways to solicit feedback from customers – surveys, focus groups, comment cards - but what about those things that aren’t reflected in any of those tools?
Most customers won’t complain when they have a bad experience and but will share a bad experience with others. People now use social media to vent frustrations, making it important to know when your customers have a bad experience so the issue can be remedied.
There are some of the things that customers notice but probably won’t tell you. Maybe because it requires too much energy, maybe because they really don’t care that much or maybe they just don’t like conflict. Regardless, there are things customers observe and experience that they won’t bother telling you.
- Bad Website
A business website is the window to the world and in today’s competitive environment, there is no excuse for having a confusing, disorganized or slow website. Fortunately we’ve come a long way and don’t have to invest tens of thousands of dollars to have a good website. There are lots of free software available, and for the price of a domain and hosting, there should be no more excuses. Businesses that sell online don’t have the luxury of having a bad website because most customers won’t take the time to muddle through it.
- Dirty Facility
It is easy to lose sight of an aging facility and become blind to the chipped paint or stains on the carpet. However, customer notices all of these things the minute they walk through the door. Nicked up walls, dirty windows and filthy restrooms are examples of facility issues customers contend with but probably won’t say anything about. We’ve all had the experience of going in a restroom that was out of toilet paper, paper towels or even soap. These things a customer remembers but business owners are unaffected by.
- Improvement Opportunities
Customers go through the processes that businesses put in place and can instantly recognize flaws in the system. Most customers will tolerate a bad process if the end product or service is worth the frustration, but will rarely tell you about it. For example, if a customer has a difficult time navigating your website, they may spend the time looking for the right page but may not share with you how difficult it was. It is important to have an objective person walk through all of your customer processes to ensure they are customer friendly and easy to navigate.
- A Better Deal
Today’s competitive environment means there is always the risk of a competitor coming along and doing something cheaper, faster and better. Customers probably won’t tell you when they find a better deal. They will just disappear and take their business elsewhere.
- Rude Employees
Customers deal with rude employees all the time and simply tolerate a less than positive experience. Rude employees can have a major impact on an organization’s ability to meet customer requirements. I have complained about rude employees in the past but only when they are extreme. Those employees who are socially awkward, dismissive or inattentive don’t usually warrant the energy of making a complaint.
- What Others Are Saying About You
We’ve all heard the horror stories that someone else experienced with a business. The unfortunate thing is these situations are often shared on social media and the organization may not even be aware of it, at least until they discover it online. Those are issues that need to be fixed and important to know about. Set up a Google alert for your business name and any other keywords that relate to your business. Monitor this and act on issues that arise via social media.
- When They Have a Great Experience
I personally have had many great experiences with organizations but rarely make the effort of letting them know. I do tell others who may have a need for the same product or service. I enjoy sharing a cool website or new product I discover that makes my life easier with others. Word of mouth really is the best way to gain new customers and if you can wow them with the experience, it’s a free way to gain new customers.
These are just a few things that customers won’t tell you. Figure out ways to engage with your customers and encourage them to share their experiences (both good and bad) so you can fix what needs to be fixed and create products customers want to use.
Patricia Lotich (twitter: @patricialotich) is the founder of The Thriving Small Business and a small business coach. Patricia helps business owners solve problems and develop strategy and goals to achieve objectives. Schedule a free 30 minute phone consultation with Patricia to see how Thriving Small Business can help your organization.