Knowing how the customer feels about your business is
critical to your success. Most of the time business own
ers guess about how well they are doing or a fan club of customers may tell them that they are doing well. Objective feedback is what businesses need to improve and become even more competitive. Another reason to measure customer service is to develop rewards for employees and collect information to better market services and products. There are a few simple ways to get customer feed back:
Walk Through Audit
If you have a service business where customers come into your facility, you need to know how they perceive your business. A walk-through audit is simply the manager assuming the role of the customer. To do this develop a form that lists required tasks in a customer contact, the standards for completing each task, the person responsible for completing each task, whether the standards are met, and any comments about how the standards are met by employees.
Customer Contact Report
Customer contact employees overhear comments made by customers. Develop a form that is easily accessible by customer contact employees so that overheard comments may be written and collected by management. This is fairly simple to do, just have 5” by 8” cards available in a convenient place for customer contact employees to write. You might have to provide inexpensive pens too.
Customer Comment Cards
This technique is very common to the foodservice industry but could be easily used by other businesses, as well. Developing a card may take a little effort. At its simplest, the card could ask—What did you like best, what did you like least, and what can we do to improve customer service?
If you have a greeter for when customers come into your business, they can also ask people as they leave if their shopping, dining, or other service experience was satisfactory. Just a quick question like, “How well did we do to serve you?” could be asked. Again, the information must be collected so that it can be tracked by management and acted upon.
If you know what you want the customer to experience, reduce it to a set of questions to be asked of shoppers. You can have your friends, acquaintances, or strangers shop your business. Simply put, the shopper acts like a customer, after the experience is completed, they fill-out the form you provide them and they send you the results. You may have to pay them or offer free products or services as an inducement for participation.
Customer surveys are difficult to do, but can yield extraordinary information. You could use the same questionnaire developed for the shoppers report but send it out to regular customers. Get their names from checks written to the business or ask them to take a survey home to fill out. Don’t forget to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
As a customer leaves ask them to participate in a focus group to be held at a future time. Focus groups should not be comprised of more than seven participants. Treat them to snacks or a meal and have questions to ask them prepared in advance. You should ask open-ended questions that cannot be answered with a simple yes or no.
Again, a simple format is ask them what they liked, disliked, and what could be done to improve the business? Follow up initial comments with probing questions such as, “When did that incident happen?” or you could use the standard statement, tell me about your last experience dealing with our business. Then ask questions about specifics of the customer’s experience.
Getting information is not difficult and with a little forethought not terribly time consuming. The benefits may be an increase in sales and profitability. The list of businesses that make a religion of measuring service and acting on those measurements are legendary—anybody heard of Wal-Mart?
Tim Hill is teaching a customer service management class this spring. If you are interested in having students measure customer service at your business, contact him at 383-7713.