What do your customers say about you ... when you are not there?

Craig Cherry is in the business of answering this question. He runs a business called The Loyalty Zone and came and spoke about customer service at a Love Your Business seminar a couple of nights ago. Most people I talk to say that word of mouth is their most important form of marketing - me included. However most of us don't know what our customers really think, feel and most importantly say about us.

Craig shared with us how exactly how to find out what our customers say. There are three (yep, only three) questions that he recommends we ask to find.

The first question is:

1. How likely is it that you would recommend LYB (or the name of your business) to a friend or colleague between 1 and 10 where 1 is extremely unlikely and 10 is extremely likely?

Loyal customers will give a score of 9 or 10. This is what we want, these people are our advocates, the ones who speak glowingly of us. Apparently the 9 is there because some people will never give a 10.

Satisfied customers give a 7 or 8. These people are fine, they got what they expected. However they are unlikely to refer us and in fact are unlikely to come back. 68% of Australian consumers rate their experience of a business here. If this is where most of your customers are, your business is dying. These are the people we need to lift up to 9 & 10 - what Craig calls the "Loyalty Zone."

And six or below are detractors. The people who hurt our business when they speak.

One of the cool things Craig said was that at least 5% of your customers are likely to be detractors, no matter what you do. That was a huge relief to me. I can't please everyone. If the odd person isn't happy, that's life. Move on. No matter what I do, not everyone is going to love my business.

The second question (and this only gets asked to the 9's and 10's) is:

2. What is the main reason for the score you just gave us?

Then probe the answers - get specific. "What do you mean by that." "Give me an example of that." Et cetera.

Final question:

3. What is the most important improvement that would give us a rating closer to 10?

These give us our improvement drivers - what we can do to improve the experience of our customers, have them love the business more, and ultimately send us more business

The process is a bit scary. Months ago Craig generously offered to run this process on a group of Love Your Business clients as a thank you for a program that I invited him to. I didn't take him up on it, mostly because I was nervous about what I would hear. What if our customers don't love our business? What would that mean about me? Especially given that's the name of our business? So I just let the offer go.

However having heard Craig speak, and finally appreciating the value of knowing what your customers think about your business, I've decided to bite the bullet and accept his offer. Stay tuned for the results.