The last few times I’ve visited the Taco Time in Bellevue, WA the manager has approached our table near the end of our visit to ask if we were pleased with the food and service. The last time I purchased tires, the manager of Discount Tire stopped by to meet me when I returned to pickup my car. He wanted to ensure I was satisfied with my new tires and the service his employees rendered. And I recently wrote about my experience at a local carwash where the owner went out of his way to learn about me.
This got me thinking about how well I know the customers in my line of business and how often do I reach out to them. And more importantly, how well do I know what they are looking for. Why do they choose to do business with us over a competitor or vice versa? What could we do better? Which customers are our biggest fans?
These are a few questions I’ve asked myself as our business has become more competitive yet our market is shrinking.
If given a choice, I will do business with people I know and have build a relationship. That ranges from a $20 haircut to a $20,000 car. I find it curious that some owners make it a priority to get to know their customers and some don’t seem to care. Are you willing to step out from behind your desk and actively search for opportunities? Or will you kick back and browse through the customer surveys once a month?
I once worked for a company where, at the end of every project, the CEO called the client. Instead of focusing on the survey return rate, his focus was on listening to each customer. He’d organize the feedback, both positive and negative, and present it at our company meeting each month. This feedback was much more valuable than raw numbers. Most customers appreciate the opportunity to speak with the CEO. It sends the message, “Your business is important to us”.
A few weeks ago I took in a pair of shoes for repair. The man who took my shoes was the owner. He repaired the shoes and took my money when I came back for them. When he said, “I appreciate your business” I knew he meant it. It wasn’t some required scripted question we’ve all heard like “Would you like to save 10% today by applying for a Target card?” Not every business is small enough to allow the owner to interact with all clients. But I believe all business owners should look for opportunities to listen to their clients and encourage their employees to do the same.