2 June 2010

How Do You Know What Your Customers Really Think (Part 1)?

While enjoying my 3 hour wait in Cancun International Airport recently, I daydreamed about the vacation from which I was returning.  The beaches, the ruins, the unseasonal monsoons (who would have guessed that all the bars would become “swim up” with just a few feet of rain?), and my check-out process.  I thought of the order of the last two things the desk clerk said:

“Can I please have your credit card?”

“Can you please fill out a quick survey about our customer service?”

Why do we have to fill out the surveys?  Do they really care what we think?  How do they use that information?

And then my mind wandered a little deeper…

How does the hotel know whether a 3 in the “Facilities” category means “Everything was ok” or “There were some really good and some really bad, so I’m putting the average”?  If this is so important, why are they asking only when I’m leaving?

There are a lot of marketing and ops people who might quickly jump in and provide answers like this:

“User surveys are a very important tool to quantitatively analyze a large sample of responses from the select target user groups in order to provide management with information about its customer base preferences…blah blah blah…and over time the large numbers will wash out outliers and individual idiosyncratic responses…”

In other words, they add all the numbers to scrub out any one individual’s response.  Academics and systems analysts love this because it gives them nice roundable numbers on reports that they can give to executives.  Execs love this because they can spin the numerical results to validate what they need to sell.  Unfortunately it does nothing to help improve the experience of the customer who has already paid his bill and now filled out his survey.

How and when do you measure your customer service?

This is the beginning of a series of discussions about how we as salespeople, business owners, and employees approach, measure, and use customer service.

4 thoughts on “How Do You Know What Your Customers Really Think (Part 1)?

  1. Jeff, you raise some excellent points. I learned many years ago from top producer Marsha Sell to survey sellers 30 days into being listed with you. She has a great questionnaire that invites responses with open-ended questions so that her sellers will share. Then, her team discusses all responses they receive to find out what they can improve, through systems and communication, so that future sellers benefit from the feedback, and current sellers can see immediate results.

  2. @Summer, I love that ultimate "you must choose" question because it ties into the customer's emotions. But if we get all "yes," all "no," or a mix, how can we use those answers to improve and better meet our customer's needs?

    @Amy, you're one step ahead of my writing. Upcoming parts of this series will discuss when to measure, what to measure at those times, and what to do with that information. Did Marsha do anything with buyers, or was she focused mostly on sellers?

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