Something happens when you go from a solopreneur to a business owner: you have to take your eye off the ball. Now don’t recoil in horror just yet; hear me out. Because it’s true – at least most of the time.
After all, it’s physically impossible to manage all the tasks, deliverables and (critically) client relationships that you did when you went it alone. In fact, now that you’ve grown – and your team has grown with you – your job isn’t to micromanage all the nitty-gritties but to trust your people to represent you well while you focus on the key thing for everyone’s benefit: your company’s sustainable future.
But even though you have to shift focus, that doesn’t mean you should leave your client experience to chance. Far from it. Instead, put a plan in place to ensure you can entrust your client experience to your team and know it will be every bit as delightful as it was when you were your only client contact… if not better!
If you don’t know then you can’t react, right? Right.
And yet so many business owners just assume that their clients are having a positive experience, without actually checking. This is where mystery shopping can be extremely useful and very cost-effective. You don’t even need to use a professional mystery shopping company if you don’t want to; simply line up some friends with high standards, invite them to try your business, set them some specific goals (such as asking for a particular service you’ve just launched), and ask for detailed feedback. The insight they give you will be gold dust and it’s what you do with it that matters.
You know what they say about assumptions, so don’t make them. Our own clients regularly lament that they ‘assumed Petra would handle that complaint properly’ or that ‘Doug would call the client back within an acceptable amount of time’. But what made them think that?
Just because you have set standards for your business doesn’t mean your team will – or that it’s fair to assume they will. If you do have benchmarks in mind, then be sure to explain them to your staff when they start working with your company. Better yet, write your expectations down, turn them into a customer service policy, and get your team the training they deserve to be able to deliver on your expectations.
This may sound obvious, but it isn’t. Regardless of whether you run an online or bricks-and-mortar business, make it really easy for your clients to contact you by putting your phone number and email somewhere that’s easy to find. If you have packaging, put your number on the box. If you have a shop, place business cards at the counter. If you run a website, make your contact details one of the most obvious things on the page. That way, if your client does have something to tell you, they’ll know exactly where to go. Just be sure to reply.
Has this ever happened to you? – You come to the end of a meal. The restaurant owner wanders over to inquire about whether you enjoyed your meal. You tell them it was fine, but (because they asked) explain that the main course was a bit cold and the dessert a little stale. They look at you gobsmacked, tell you no one else has complained, and shuffle off. Charming.
Now, it goes without saying that this kind of behaviour isn’t exclusive to restaurants. As customers, we are regularly asked for feedback on the businesses we frequent, only to be ignored when we don’t shower praise. I find it really off putting.
So, as a business owner, if you do ask for feedback be sure to really listen. If a client is being so kind as to take a moment of their time to give you feedback for your business (that’s free mystery shopping without the mystery!) then I would encourage you to pull up a chair, listen and take notes.
There really is no better opportunity for improvement than that. Embrace it – and watch your customer experience improve as a result!
Unsure if your client experience is showing you at your best? The Finesse Group has been designed to bring an outside eye to everything from your PR and marketing to your customer care, and can help kickstart a new phase in your business today. Get your customer care experience in check today by visiting byfinessegroup.com to set up a free consultation.
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