Generally speaking I tend to busy myself with creating stuff or experiencing new things. And I actively limit consumption, particularly of the media sort. In that vein I only pay attention to those I trust and care about. So the chances of me tuning-in to the morning news is highly unlikely (here's a better explanation of this effect). Technology makes it easier than ever to fall into this trap...to consume vs. create. Technology also makes it possible to connect with anyone, anywhere at virtually anytime. It's a remarkable point in history. You can learn anything from whomever you want. You can make things and give people a peek or show off your skills to precisely the audience you're looking to attract. You can build your own fan club. So the choice is yours...be entertained or do the entertaining...choose wisely.
Assuming you’re interested in what people notice about you and/or your business. And assuming you’re interested in thanking people for taking the time to let you know, I offer the following guide to the business of customer feedback.
- Make it easy…No arduous processes (multiple layer menus or long lists of questions or multi page comment forms).
- Make it genuine (human) and brief. Best to get it in person upon departure. But if you can’t a brief follow-up soon after will do.
- Make it heard…act like you’re listening and that you care. The request should be personal. And the request should come from the top (or very near the top).
- Thank you…everyone who provides feedback should receive a personalized response thanking them for their time and contribution (repeat customers should get extra attention). Yes, it’s an extra step. But it shows you care.
Of course this sort of attention takes time…probably at least an hour or two each day depending on the size of your business. But if you do this well, it gets noticed and builds trust. And that’s one of the best assets you can build…definitely worth the investment.
I interview people for jobs almost every day. And almost as often as I interview I’m disappointed in the lack of preparation. Not the kind of preparation you’re probably thinking of…a resume with no typo’s, a conservative look, a memorized list of their skill set and a forced smile. But a way to show me why I can’t possible ignore them. Before computers and the internet you relied heavily on testimonials (former bosses, co-workers and anyone else who would sing your praises) to instill confidence that you were the right choice. Smartly, some people figured out that providing references before someone asked for them was the big bold move…everyone else chose me, shouldn’t you? Now there’s a better way. And sadly very few use it. We use the internet everyday…to consume. But few people actually claim a spot and take the time to make something. Something that could be shown off, something that can’t be ignored, something that helps you choose yourself.
I would take this a step further. I wouldn’t show up for an interview without my own website. Not Facebook (although the right content there could be powerful). But a site you build yourself…about you. If you can’t get your namesake URL, get one that resonates with you. And then have some business cards printed with only that URL on them. Hand them out. The obvious question then…what to put there? Everything and anything that you are proud of…that screams you need me on your team. Sure you can have your resume there. And a few photo’s. But surely there must be some way to show how you can solve interesting problems and how you’ve led and inspired others to achieve remarkable work. There must be some evidence of a school project, a hobby, a craft or special interest. Surely there must be a really long list of the books you’ve read…and perhaps a short report on some of them. And surely you’ve had some interesting things to say and you’ve captured that in a blog or a video or two. Surely…
The point is that it’s easier (and cheaper) than ever to show-off. Please start.
In other words…what’s your purpose? Why are you doing what you’re doing? And no the answer shouldn't be “for money”. If it is…you plan to sell-out at some point. So surely your exit plan has already been developed. Would you share that with your employees? Your customers? More often the money part is about sustainability…how can someone keep their dream alive, live comfortable and pay their bills along the way. Just don’t confuse purpose with sustainability. Many people do…and the result is a disappointingly (for both you and your customers) short-lived effort.
1. Now list any clear actions which illustrate your purpose. Not slogans, promises or mission statements. The things you do to and with your customers. Your customers are raving about the highlights. So you can start by listing those. What would be missed if it were changed or eliminated?
2. Now list any actions which may be perceived as self-serving and might even be getting in the way of doing more of #1. What are your customers (internal as well as external) annoyed about? What won’t be noticed if it gets eliminated?
Now you know where to start…both shoring-up and repairs. Sometimes it’s processes or physical attributes of your product or service which need to be changed. More often it’s people and the culture which need adjustment.
Need a plan? Now you have one.
Lucky to be healthy.
Lucky to train with some very inspirational people.
Lucky to be able to participate.
Even more lucky to do it with people you love.
And lucky that someone faster didn't show up!
I'll take lucky over good any day...especially this one.