A Great Free Way to Dramatically Improve Your Small Business and Grow Sales

December 13, 2011  |   San Diego Bookkeeping   |     |   Comments Off on A Great Free Way to Dramatically Improve Your Small Business and Grow Sales

Want an easy way to improve your business, gain referrals and build lifelong customers? Hopefully the answer is yes! In that case, the solution is simple. Ask your clients how you are doing.

When I say ask,however, I am suggesting following the tips laid out in the article below. You have to ask specific questions in order to get actionable answers and something more than just a standard affirmative answer.

In addition to what you see below, one question I always like to ask our San Diego bookkeeping clients, and one you may want to use with your clients, is if they are comfortable referring us to others. If there is the slightest hesitation or evasiveness it is the perfect opening to then ask where we are not meeting their expectations or causing them to not be totally comfortable referring us.

Whatever the answer is, and it is usually something specific, will tell you where you have room to improve starting with that very customer. Not only does this open the door for referrals because you’ve solved the hesitation but it also makes that customer an even bigger fan because you’ve shown you are willing to listen and fix whatever it is they find lacking.

I am willing to bet there isn’t a single business out there that doesn’t have room for improvement and doing something as simple as asking your clients to help you improve is one of the easiest (and free!) ways to accomplish that goal.

The next time you have a chance, pull a client aside and ask specific questions related to how you’re doing.

There is always some improvement to be had in your organization–and if you are proactive, you can turn a potential threat into a golden customer service opportunity. To ensure that both your client and your company get the most out of the exchange, follow these four rules for when you look your client in the face.

1. Be Prepared to Hear the Worst

There is nothing worse than when someone asks you for your honest opinion, you give it to them, and it looks like they swallowed a lemon whole.  We have to assume they are giving feedback, no matter how critical, because they care.  So, if negative, take their criticism and ask a simple “why do you feel that way?”

Your goal is to hear the “what” with a supporting “why” so you can improve upon it in the future. Whether negative or positive, remember that these conversations are priceless for your business.

2. Ask Meaningful Questions

The odds of doing everything great are very slim for any business, so avoid broad questions like “how are we doing” which is most likely to yield a “great.”  These open-ended questions are too vague to get any solid feedback.

Instead, aim for something specific so you have a shared point of reference.  Instead of “how did you like the product?” reframe the question to ask about a specific feature.

3. Listen

No, I mean really listen. One of two things must happen when getting feedback.  You are either writing down what they are saying or looking them in the eyes showing you are listening – ideally a combination of both.  When you are talking to a customer and, specifically when asking for their feedback, there is no room for interruptions.  In other words, don’t take phone calls, have side conversations or check email.  If multitasking, you are at risk of losing a customer.

4. Show You’ve Heard

Make it a point to show customers that you have taken their feedback to heart and into action.  It can be as simple as an email or a phone call referencing your last meeting, with some of the steps you’ve gone through to improve it.

Even if they shared positive feedback, still follow up.  There is something very nice about saying, “Thank you for shining light on something we strive hard for everyday.  It’s customers like you that appreciate the way we operate and it wouldn’t be possible without you.”

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