Whenever a prospective client asks me if I can help them implement a customer satisfaction survey, be it written, by telephone, or via face-to-face interviews, I respond with a question:
Are you prepared to act on the information you receive?
I know it sounds like a no-brainer, but it's not. We get busy. We mean well. But we screw up. Then we end up with customers who feel like Seth Goldin who posted this about his recent car maintenance experience:
The last time I took it in [for an oil change] I picked up a freshly washed car, it was a new free service they offered. Cool I thought....They also started giving a follow up phone call to make sure customers were happy with the service.
I wondered if they would wash my car this time, I assumed not. Not in January, too cold. I was right, the car was not washed when I picked it up. I understood. But the next day I did get the follow up phone call.
I said I was happy with the service, but...mentioned that after my "30 point inspection" my windshield washer was still bone dry and one front tire was still visibly low. "Well I guess we messed up" was the response "I'll have Paul call you back so we can make it right". Well that was Monday, today is Friday and I'm still waiting for the call back.
I guess my point is that if they hadn't washed my car the first time, and hadn't phoned me to see if I was happy with the service I would have more impressed than I am now. To raise someone's expectations then not fulfill them is worse than mediocrity.
I write often about the importance of managing customer's expectations. If you're not likely to act when people talk about what they don't like, I'm not suggesting at all that you don't ask.
Instead, I'm suggesting to ask often and make it a priority to act promptly. It really is the only way to safeguard your reputation.
After all, not asking doesn't mean the customer isn't unhappy, it just means you might not know in time to do something to reverse it!
Also, let me ask you, which was the worse offense in Seth's story?
Going the extra mile once and not doing it again? Or messing up the basics?