Q: Your recent articles relating to effective listening and adding value to one’s product or service has made me take a hard look at the relationships I have with my customers. Can you provide further insights?
A: To begin, just ask your customers what they think about your business. Be prepared to receive more than compliments and treat constructive criticism with the respect it deserves.
Most people are flattered when asked for their opinions. Begin the conversation by asking pointed questions:
Are you satisfied with our service before and after the sale? If not, what would you like us to do differently?
How would you assess the quality of our staff? Are they knowledgeable, helpful and friendly?
How do we compare to our competition in terms of quality, service, and price?
If there is one thing we could do better to make the shopping experience more pleasant, what would it be?
These are probing questions that may elicit different answers from your customers.
Some people may be motivated by loud, high pressure, fast talking sales promotions. These are tactics that can result in a sale but, unless the customer feels appreciated, they will probably react to similar stimuli from one of your competitors. In order for a business to grow it must not only attract new customers, it must also retain the goodwill of current customers.
Greet all constructive criticism as just that — constructive. Accept suggestions with gratitude and wherever possible, implement change in a prompt and courteous way. Once the problem has been addressed be sure to let the customer know that his or her issue has been resolved.
It is said that if you do something right your customer may tell another person. However, if you do something wrong, they will tell a dozen. No business operation is perfect. We all make mistakes from time to time. It is how we deal with the issues that make the difference.
Gray Poehler is a volunteer with SCORE Naples. Their counselors can assist and offer advice concerning management issues facing your small business. Counseling is free to all U.S. citizens and documented residents. To register, call 239-430-0081 or visit http://tinyurl.com/43aqelw.
If you would like an answer to your question, please fill out the form at http://naples.score.org/mentors. A counselor will contact you within 48 hours. Please include your name, email address and a contact phone number.