Emerging from recession, your best friend forever — now more than ever — is your customer. Satisfied clients are not only likely to buy more from you again; they’re also most likely to refer friends and colleagues to your products. And in this tough recovery, with budgets still tight as customers focus on the suppliers who provide the most value, you’ll need to leverage these relationships for all they’re worth.
If you’re not staying in close touch with your customers this season, you’re neglecting your most important asset. And you’re conceding market leadership to dangerous competitors who understand how their daily bread gets buttered.
How well do you know your customers? How focused are you on their needs? The following quiz will help you calculate how well you’re doing in getting and staying close to your customers. For some questions, you may think you can spot the “right” response, but make sure your answers are truthful — not just what you assume we’re looking for. The point of the test is not to make you feel smug about your strengths, but to remind you to keep improving.
1. True or False: You have staff members who play ongoing roles as customer champions to ensure that client voices are regularly heard in meetings or on the shop floor.
2. A customer tells one of your staff that they’re dissatisfied with some aspect of your product or service — but not so unhappy as to demand a refund. What would you expect that staff member to do?
A) Thank them for their loyalty.
B) Pass along their complaint to the manager.
C) Give them a credit, replacement product or some other token of real value, anyway.
3. Do you have policies or incentives that encourage all members of your staff (not just sales!) to go out and meet with customers on a regular basis?
B) No, not yet.
4. Does your company have policies or processes that promote asking satisfied customers for: A) feedback; B) referrals; C) testimonials?
5. How often do you invite customers to lunch, or call on them at their workplace?
A) At least twice a month.
B) Not often enough.
C) None of the above.
6. How often do you survey customers’ satisfaction with your website?
A) All the time.
B) When we get around to it.
7. Which phrase best describes the tone of your customer communications (newsletters, surveys, website, blogs)?
A) It’s all about us.
B) We offer content and information that helps our customers become more successful.
C) Whatever we scrounge up on deadline day.
8. What sort of incentives do you offer customers for filling out feedback forms, signing up for your newsletters or suggesting new products or services?
A) Not much, really.
B) Neither does anyone else in our industry.
C) What would you suggest?
9. Focus groups are too expensive, right?
A) They sure are.
B) We do them anyway.
C) We conduct them in-house, or find other ways to reduce the cost, because they provide invaluable perspective.
10. Double-teaming customers so that more than one employee owns that relationship is:
A) Not a bad idea.
B) A regular policy at our shop.
C) Something our competitors do.
11. You have several customer groups with very different needs and motivations. How do you market to each group without alienating the others?
A) With great difficulty.
B) No one has complained yet.
C) We segment these groups, then research and market to them separately.
12. Have you ever looked into forming a customer advisory board, to give you regular access to clients’ thinking and build more robust and collaborative relationships?
B) Will do.
C) I’d rather stagnate and decay, thanks.
Answers: 1. True; 2. C; 3. A; 4. Take one point for each “yes”; 5. A or B; 6. A; 7. B; 8. No correct answer; 9. Score 1 point for B, 2 points for C; 10. B; 11. C; 12. A.
Scoring: If you’ve completed this survey, you already know the score.