Ask for feedback. Obviously, you don’t have to sit around, anxiously wondering when a problem is going to arise. There is a way for you to avoid some (unfortunately, not all!) client conflicts. You can do it by ensuring that customers aren’t suppressing problems. And you do that by constantly asking for feedback. It’s amazing how rarely businesspeople do this, says Kuzmeski: They’re usually just keeping their fingers crossed that all is well. But a sincere inquiry about a client’s satisfaction is a true pathway to making a connection.
“Don’t be afraid to engage your clients,” says Kuzmeski. “Ask them what you can do better, how you can improve. Supply them with feedback surveys so that they can anonymously share their thoughts, ensuring that they are as honest as possible. As an incentive around the holidays, you might want to offer a discount to any customer who is willing to fill out the survey. Asking for feedback is a great way for you to rectify any possible or growing problems before they become so great that they sour a client relationship.”
And by the way: Whatever you do, don’t give your clients a horror story they can tweet, blog, or YouTube into national prominence. “The internet has really amplified the consumer’s voice,” notes Kuzmeski. “It’s increased her power exponentially. You don’t want to be the subject of the Horrendous Customer Service story that goes viral, and believe me, there will definitely be one. Focus on customer service. Emphasize the importance of keeping the customers you have happy.
“Remember, you can absolutely keep and create loyal customers in today’s economy, but you have to have the service chops to take care of them,” she concludes. “Make your customers and your relationships with them a priority—always! If you make this commitment now, you’ll be looking at a very bright 2011.”