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Increase your word of mouth business referrals: Tip 1 – Provide a better service.

Probably the best way to get more recommendations is to actually provide a top-notch service… Who would have thought it? Of course, it’s impossible to solve a problem that you are unaware of. Likewise, you are going to want to find out what customers love about you, so you can do more of that!

(Less bad stuff + More good stuff = Better service = Happier customers = More recommendations)

But, how do we identify possible problems? I’m not talking about obvious things, eg. if you accidentally burn a customer’s house down, you would be right to assume that’s a bad thing. But what about the small things that you wouldn’t normally consider to be a problem?

How can we identify the things that customers like and don’t like about your business?

My recommendation would be to provide the customer with some sort of feedback form, seeing as most customers are never actually going to mention these things to your face.

The three rules of customer feedback…

Firstly, it’s important that the feedback is as anonymous as possible, otherwise you are never going to get honest responses.

Secondly, make sure it is completed when you’re not there. Customers are just not going to be honest with you leaning over their shoulder.

Thirdly, it has to be convenient… If it’s even the slightest bit difficult or inconvenient, customers will not bother to respond.

Bonus… Don’t ask about price, what the customer thinks about your pricing is not really of any interest in this situation. Your price is your price for a reason, customers are rarely going to tell that you’re too cheap. We want this feedback to be about the service you or your company provided, not about the depth of their pockets.

Feedback gathering techniques…

Online Feedback: –
Main benefit: It’s free and simple
Main negative: Some customers struggle with tech.

There’s a tonne of different online solutions for gathering customer feedback. A personal favourite of mine is Typeform because it offers a really “slick” conversational form solution. Customers are only able to see one question at a time with a percentage completed bar at the top of the page. This prevents a daunting list of questions being on display which removes clutter from the page, giving more of a “one step at a time” feel, which is a much nicer user experience.

These forms can be completed anonymously and sent directly to you as an email. You can also view the feedback as a chart, which can give you a really nice visual representation of the areas you need to focus on.

You can see a sample feedback form by clicking the button below (feel free to have a go and even copy if you like).

Traditional Feedback: –
Main benefit: Everyone knows how to use a post box.
Main negative: It’s more expensive, and customers have to post it.

Sometimes traditional methods can be a better option. If many of your customers are elderly, then this is an obvious choice. Many people are scared of the internet, and no doubt the internet is scared of them too…

So how can we get feedback via post?

Firstly, limit yourself to around ten questions, use multiple choice questions with the option to add a comment. I have created samples of what a customer feedback form might look like. You are more than welcome to print this out and use it. I have included a PDF version and a word doc, the word doc is your best option is you would like to make edits.

Make it easier for your customers…

Make sure you also provide the customer with a stamped and addressed envelope, I appreciate stamps aren’t so cheap these days… But this feedback is worth significantly more than a stamp in the long run. For an extra professional look, and to save a bit of coin, you can even get prepaid envelopes from the royal mail here. You can get 100 DL envelopes for £79.00 (at the time of writing) working out just 79 pence for the postage and the envelope… Not too bad?

What to do with the feedback

You are going to get “two sets” of feedback from each customer, the comments section from each question and the numerical score. Comments can be used for immediate feedback; the 1-10 numerical scores can be used to give ourselves an overall rating that we can gradually work on improving.

Customer comments:

Make a note of the comments on the feedback forms, these are things you can take notice of straight away and if they are good, keep up the good work, and make sure you carry on doing it. It can sometimes surprise you, that some of the most positive things customers say about you, might be something you have been doing without even thinking about it.

If you have staff, make sure these comments are discussed at staff meetings. It might be the case that one member of staff is doing something that customers love, but not all of your staff are doing it. Perhaps he shakes every customers hand upon arrival, and customers love it. Maybe your other staff should be instructed to start doing the same? It’s an easy win.

Likewise, negative comments should also be discussed in the same manner.

It’s simple, stop doing the bad things, do more of the good things.

Numerical Scores:

This is the bit I love; you get to look at how your business is performing as a whole (in terms of customer satisfaction) and implement changes, and see how they impact your performance over time… You guessed it, theres a downloadable calculator coming right up!

Gathering the data:

So as your customer feedback forms come in, either by email or by post. Enter the results between 1-10 in the the relevant positions in the spreadsheet. The calculator will give us the averages for each question, as well as an overall average.

It’s worth pointing out that this is a very basic spreadsheet for tracking feedback. Although it will work perfectly, you may feel inclined to go ahead and make changes or ever make your own version that better suits you needs.

Using the data:

The next step is to look at the question that is getting the lowest score as an average. You can then look at how you can make improvements in that area.

Once you have decided on what changes you are going to make to improve your score in this particular area, make sure everyone knows (any staff etc.) and make a note of when these changes were implemented.

Monitor, improve, evaluate:

You can now continue to monitor your performance using the spreadsheet, if you find your average score going up, your changes are working, if the score remains the same or goes down, try again.

If you find there is a sudden increase or a sudden drop in your performance, you can also use this to identify a potential problem that would have possibly gone unnoticed. For example, a new member of staff that has a bad habit of treading mud into the customers house. You can address these issues quickly before doing any long-term damage to your business.

The eventual goal:

The eventual goal of this whole exercise is to bring your overall average up, to 10 out of 10 ideally, but you can’t please everyone. The main thing is that you are seeing continual improvement over time, if and when you max out your score, why not change the questions and try and improve other areas too?

The result for your business:

So great, you have improved your score. Now what?

You have probably seen this coming, mainly because I have mentioned it twice already, but by improving your overall customer satisfaction, you will have also have happier customers. As a result, more of your customers will be inclined recommend you, and if you have done this really well, they will actually be openly talking about you. That’s the difference between “ok”, and “excellent”. “Ok”, means people will probably recommend you when asked. “Excellent”, means that customers will be talking about you unprovoked.

The Excellent customer…

A customer that thinks your service was excellent with unleash you on the world, telling their work friends, family, neighbours, you name it… That’s how happy they are. Most people will take little notice, but next time “Fred” needs the service you offer, they will remember that “Julie from accounts” was talking about their great plumber a couple of months ago… Whats the betting Fred asks Julie for your number?

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