Business cartoonist Chris Lysy asked me what I thought was the biggest challenge small businesses face. In a quick note back, I said "It varies from business to business, but I’d say wearing multiple hats — managing the many facets of the business in the amount of time available." I thought that was a pretty good guess ... but is it?
Agree? Disagree? Voice your opinion on the poll below or in the comments.
Hope you enjoy the cartoon!
In a conversation about my last blog post on Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM), a business acquaintance remarked:
“It’s interesting how a big brand or shining new business gets word of mouth to work for them. But I have a reliable small business. I don’t want to be famous or go viral, but I’d like to grow my referrals. Can I still use WOMM?”
“Sure!” I answer. “One of the things you can do is WOW them with your customer service. And a WOW is the key to having great WOMM! When you give your customers or clients excellent service, they’ll say great things about you, driving referrals and supporting your overall business.”
“Great! But how do I make sure my service is excellent?” she asked.
By implementing a customer satisfaction feedback process.
1) Measuring customer satisfaction can help you understand what people are currently saying, what they really appreciate and what might be improved.
There are several ways to do this:
Observation - Be aware of your customers’ body language and expressions as they interact with you and your staff. If your business has multiple locations and / or staff, make it part of your routine to discreetly observe your business operating real-time. You can validate your observations by casually asking customers their impressions of the service and environment.
Interviews – Interview a sample of customers by asking a set of questions over the phone or in person. The advantage of this method is that it is more comprehensive than observation. The interviewer can take the time to ask follow up questions and learn more about the why of a particular answer.
Social media listening -- Some people are reluctant to give opinions verbally, but feel more uninhibited online. Also, avoid unwanted surprises by asking questions in your postings. Finally, “listen” to what people are saying by monitoring your business name and keywords on several social media channels. Some tools that can make this easier include:
Focus groups – This method is also interactive and gathers feedback from groups via dialogs with follow up questions and exploration of situations. One of the keys to successful, productive focus groups is having a skilled facilitator to make sure the more talkative participants don’t dominate or sway the group.
Surveys – Conducting a survey is the most common method used for measuring customer satisfaction. Surveys have the advantage of scale – if you have many customers, surveys give you the ability to get a large sample size to express their opinion in a short time. This can provide statistically viable observations and metrics, although the process can have a bias towards people with the time, energy and motivation to complete the survey.
All of these methods require a clear vision of what you want to learn. So keep it simple and focused – only ask the questions that will provide useful feedback. For example, don’t ask about your location if you’re not willing to move.
Which brings us to the next step in the process:
2) Analyze the information you’ve gained from your customers - to do this, look into these areas:
What your business is doing well -- and should do more of
Where improvement is needed
Services/products that are needed that you may not provide
Net Promoter Score – (for surveys) standard measure of how likely your customer is to refer your business. How does it compare to your industry and expectations?
3) Build an action plan to address any customer concerns, leverage your positives and this will ultimately improve overall satisfaction.
4) Measure your customer satisfaction ratings against your action plan on a periodic basis. This way, you will know if the actions you’ve put into place are having the desired effect. If they are, you’ll see your metrics moving in the right direction. If they are not, adjustments will need to made.
“So it sounds like my business could use this but… won’t it take time, resources and cut into my profits?”
According to Gartner Research, companies that prioritize the customer experience are 60% more profitable than those who don’t. That’s an average, but you could look at your own data – what is the cost to acquire a new customer compared to retaining a current customer?
To learn more on this topic and how to implement it painlessly, please contact us or visit here.
According to the Journal of Medical Practice Management: of those patients that rated their healthcare providers with two or fewer stars, only 1 in 25 claimed their physical examination, diagnosis, treatment, surgery or health outcome as the reason for their dissatisfaction.
Patient's negative perceptions sited poor communications, disorganization, excessive delays, indifferent staff and communication frustrations.
In an environment where rising costs and increased competition for patients is prevalent, this fact is important because:
Due to these shifting dynamics, surveying and montoring your patient’s satisfaction and perspectives is becoming a necessity for successful healthcare providers. This enables you to learn more about what’s important to your patients and the best way to communicate and engage them. You only have a short time with each patient; the focus is on their health. If they had a bad experience trying to get hold of you or other non-health related problems, you most likely won't hear about it. But a dissatisfied patient may tell others, post a review or leave your practice. Give them a chance to give their feedback! The information gleaned from a well designed and implemented survey process can be invaluable to your practice’s future success.
The good news is that conducting a custom patient satisfaction survey can be done with minimal time demands on you and your staff. Then, once you become aware and understand your patients perceptions of your practice, you can put actions and processes into place that leverage their positive impressions and diminish the negative ones.
For more information concerning successful methods for obtaining patient feedback and implementing enhancement processes, please contact us at Broad Reach Marketing Services.
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