Monday, July 16, 2007

Week 40 - What is the Market Perception of Your Business?

External performance is critical as ultimately it dictates how you are perceived by your customers and the general public. Get it wrong and the best internal systems and marketing won’t help you! Working out what people in your community think of your business is quite easy - ask. You need to find out how they rate your product, your service, your opening hours, your range, your employees, your location and anything other factor of your business that you believe is important.

There are two great questions you can ask your customers:
  1. What was pleasing or distinctive about the service you received?
  2. What, if anything do you believe we should change to improve our service?
There is no point asking a watered down version of these questions such as “…everything alright?” These days everyone is busy so they respond “yes fine” and walk out regardless of how they actually felt. Dig deeper, it will be worth it in the long run.

You will know from your own experiences that when a business annoys you, or lets you down, you certainly tell your family and friends but rarely do you give that feedback to the business owner. Some people will be like that no matter what you ask them - you will never get their feedback. But if you begin asking the questions, you will get a whole lot more feedback than you ever thought possible.

Good or bad this information is priceless but it must be collected systematically. Many business owners go on a feedback “binge” for 1 or 2 weeks, resolve to fix everything and then never mention it again. As with everything in life things change, so you need to have a system in place which reminds you to gather this information as often as appropriate.

One further point: if you are going to make promises to your clients, do what you say you will do! If the feedback card says it goes straight to the Managing Director’s desk for action and a response, then make sure the Managing Director responds! Failing to do so will leave your business with very little credibility.

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