If you are working in the office today, lift your head up and look around. What do you see? People sitting in cubicles, facing computers? Wrong! What you see is the most efficient and inexpensive source of customer information you have available.
That is right – your employees.
Your customer-facing employees have a tremendous amount of information about customers. Moreover, that information does not always get codified and communicated where it can do the most good. That is of course not to say that direct customer research will not be important. Employees have their own biases about what they think their customers want or need. None the less, employees also have a great perspective about your customers – and your competitors. Combining employee feedback with that gained from more structured and traditional customer research can lead to unexpected insights.
Questions to Ask
There are really several areas of questioning you could pursue, but these questions are just samples to get you started. Think about your industry, your product or service category, as well as your organization’s goals and objectives to tailor these questions.
Customer Satisfaction Improvement
- Other than lower price, what could we do to make our customers happier?
- Other than price, what do our customers hate the most about doing business with us?
- What do our customers like the most about doing business with us?
- What could we do to get our customers to recommend us to others?
- What’s the one thing you do that our customers compliment?
- What do our customers complain about?
- Which of our competitors’ products seems to be having the most success with customers?
- What do our competitors do differently or better than us to provide better service to our customers?
New Products and Services
- Other than lower price, what could we do to get our customers to purchase more?
- What product do our customers need us to offer them?
- What services do our customers need us to offer to support them?
- Think about a customer who is purchasing less from us. What, if anything, could we do about that?
- Think about a customer who is purchasing more from us. What caused that to happen and how could we make that happen for other customers?
Employee Customer Interaction
- If you could give your customers one piece of advice, what would it be?
- If you could ask your customers to do one thing for you, what would it be?
How to Ask Employees about Customers
The key to getting information about your customers from your employees is to open a dialogue. You are the best judge of how these questions should be asked. Formal or informal, one-on-one, a group discussion, or an online survey – all these methods could work depending on your company culture and whether your employees are in one location or geographically dispersed. The key is to be sure you can ask open-end questions to create dialogue to avoid questions that can be answered with simple yes/no or numeric responses. However, try to ask questions that are specific enough to get real answers that can lead to actionable information.
Above all – listen – don’t judge! Your employees will only open up to you if you create a safe and welcoming attitude about their feedback. Employees know they are not perfect, but they want to succeed for themselves and the company. Make sure your employees know their customer insights are valuable and helpful.
Now it’s your turn: what questions about customers do you ask your employees? How does that work, and what recommendations do you have for others?
Contact Us to get started on your Customer Survey!