In Butare last week, there was a customer forum held by one of the banks of the country. This forum that was organized in one a attractive environment was attended by many of the bank’s customers.
The main objective of this customer forum was to have a real face to face contact with all customers of this bank.
Customers were quiet impressive of being invited to come and share their opinions on the services the bank offers them. And the good thing about this forum is that all customers were invited to matter how “small” they were.
It was an opportunity to express their satisfactions but also the areas that needed to be improved upon.
Many business owners spend lots of money in promoting themselves through advertising when there is an inexpensive tool at their disposal that is being very often underutilized, or unknown to them. And guess what that tool is? Customer feedback.
Customers’ feedback is an important element in maintaining good relationships with one’s customers.
If you have a shop and have never carried out a survey on customers’ feedback, do not be surprised to see that your customers have just decided to shop elsewhere.
Sometimes; it is not because your customers are still patronizing your shop that they are necessary happy with your services. It might simply be that they are waiting for a better opportunity to leave your business.
Have you ever had customers who seemed happy with your services but suddenly stopped doing business with you? Did you ever wonder why? Was the quality of your products or services their reasons for leaving?
Customers’ feedback is essential to all service providers because it helps to know the exact way your customers feel about your products and services.
This is simply because the way you as the business owner sees or fees about your products and services is not always the same as what your customers really think, experience, feel about them.
Bill Gates says that “You need to know about customer feedback that says things should be better.”
Here below are different feed back techniques that can be used to help you evaluate your customers’ perception of your business.
1. Suggestion Box
This is one of the most common ways of getting feedback. It is a simple box that is normally in your shop where your customers can just leave a comment or suggestion for you.
This quality measurement tool has limitations because most customers will leave a comment only when they are very angry.
And also sometimes; in front of your staff, the discreet customers will feel bad to leave a negative comment. In short, you do not really have a good picture of how your customers feel about your business.
2. Feedback Form
This source of quality measurement can be used once in a while; either every quarter or twice a year to have your customers’ feedback.
Recently; I have seen for instance these feedback forms on the tables of the Bourbon Coffee in town.
The feedback form helps you to ask your customers questions that could reflect both positively and negatively on your products and services. You should always include an open-ended question at the end, asking your customers if they have any additional comments or suggestions to make.
This will surely give your customers a chance to voice any displeasure or come forward with truly constructive suggestions that could help your business.
In today’s modern way of doing business, you can use your website to have your customers leave you their feedback.
If you have a website, simply include a note on stating that you welcome any comments or feedback, along with an email address where they can send it.
This way of getting feedback has lots of advantages because the customer can just send you via his email his comments without anyone seeing what he has written apart from you, the business owner.
I know that certain international hotels have even gone beyond this feedback forms. They simply ask theirs customer to leave an email address and the hotel later on contact them to have a written feedback on their stay.
You definitely need today to use one of the tools of getting your customer’s feedback as this is surely one of the best ways of knowing beyond a doubt that your company is meeting your customer needs.
You may think you are doing a good job and not realize that you are probably off target until your profits have dropped and you have lost market share to a competitor who is probably more in tune with what your customers want than you are.
Remember today that “Feedback is the breakfast of champions” as says Ken Blanchard.
To be continued next week
The author is a customer service consultant working in Rwanda.