“Is everything alright with your meal…?”

Wednesday, 16 September 2015 13:14

A phrase we’ve all, no doubt, heard on many occasions… but how often have you answered honestly?

The most common scenario is that we smile, nod approvingly, avoid eye contact by staring into the bottom of our glass and then turn to our companions with a detailed diatribe on just exactly what’s wrong with the meal and the restaurant and fifteen reasons why we won’t be coming back. And when we’ve left, we tell everyone we know at every available opportunity.

Sound familiar? Most people have done it at some time… but why do we?

Why don’t we just tell the truth?

Is it the in-sincere way the question is asked?

The fear of what’ll happen to your meal once it’s disappeared out of sight and into the hands of the kitchen staff whose work you’ve just rubbished?

Or do we just not like the inherent conflict of the situation; the potential confrontation in having to tell someone their work just doesn’t come up to scratch?

You may not be in the business of selling meals, but your business sells something and its future depends on your ability to keep selling by attracting the right sort of clients and keeping them… but do you know what they really think, or is everything just alright with the meal? Are your customers just “satisfied”, or are they loyal?

There’s a huge and important difference; research shows that satisfaction is no guarantee of loyalty – potentially up to 50% of your “satisfied” customers will leave to the competition within four years if offered a better deal – loyal customers won’t (Chris Daffy – Once a Customer, Always a Customer).

Real customer loyalty is a hugely valuable asset; it creates repeat business, referrals, lower over-heads, lowers the cost of client acquisition and makes marketing easier… but where does loyalty come from and how do you measure it?

To a customer, perception IS reality. It doesn’t matter what you think your business and its products and services are like, what matters is how things are perceived by the customer. Whether you sell to consumers or businesses, all buyers are people and people buy emotionally and justify with logic.

The reasons and justifications they offer for their decisions might sound perfectly plausible, logical and rational, but in reality people’s buying decisions are often based on their emotional responses to the touch points they experience with your business.

Touch points are all part of a client journey that typically includes elements of the following:

  • Selection
  • Becoming a client
  • Use
  • Getting help
  • Making changes
  • Leaving or renewing
For example, it doesn’t matter how good your help desk is if the journey to get to speak to someone leaves your already frustrated customers feeling angry and even more frustrated.

It doesn’t matter if your hotel’s food is Michelin star quality if the car park is miles from the entrance, there’s no-one to help you with your bags, its raining and the staff don’t care.

It doesn’t matter that you sell the very best range of widgets in your industry with incredible levels of customer service if you’re missing sales because potential clients can’t find you and no-one tells existing customers what else you do and how else you could help them…

Of course, you can ask your clients if everything’s alright with the meal… and they may or may not tell you.

They’re more likely to tell someone else. Wouldn’t it be better if that someone else was us rather than your current best prospect or your competition?

You’re more likely to get to the truth if someone with the right experience and expertise asks structured questions in the right way. This gets beyond the logical justifications to the emotional responses beneath to help you understand what’s REALLY going on in your business and to form the basis for evidence based decision making.

Customer and employee journey mapping and customer insight research provide evidence on which to make important business decisions about the future course and direction of your business – vital if you want to arrive at your chosen destination. They help to detect and repair issues and vulnerabilities, but also to learn more about your strengths to be able to use them to greater advantage – a common blind-spot in many businesses in our experience.

Measuring loyalty is done using a tool called Net Promoter Score. It’s very simple but incredibly powerful and provides both an objective and widely recognised measure of loyalty AND, more importantly, the reasons why customers feel that way.

The same tool can also be used to measure employee loyalty, which has many benefits to your business, not least that it can be very difficult to achieve and sustain high levels of customer loyalty without loyal and satisfied employees.

It pays to remember that both your staff and customers are volunteers. They have a choice. It’s up to you whether or not they continue to volunteer.

If they don’t like the meal, they can always go elsewhere… wouldn’t it be better to know what they really think and feel?

To find out more on Evidence Based Decision Making www.maskewcordon.co.uk

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