Customer relationships aren’t that different from your romantic ones.
You spend time getting to know a person, pursue them through texts and promises of a good time, and then seal the deal with a contract.
But chances are, you and your significant other talk all the time. You know how they are feeling, what drives them crazy, and what makes them happy. Maybe you routinely play The New York Times’ 36 Questions That Lead to Love so that your relationship stays fresh and interesting.
You probably don’t know as much about your customers—but you should! Keeping a healthy lifelong relationship takes open and honest communication.
Here are five questions you should be asking your customers (and perhaps that person you’re wooing) to keep your relationship rock solid.
Would you go out with me again?
What do you tell your friends about me?
How would you feel if we broke up tomorrow?
Am I playing too hard to get?
What can I do to make you happier?
So, the first date went well, and you’re keen to continue. It’s time to feel out the chance of another meeting. Would your customer head out on a second date with you?
Customer Satisfaction is a great way to measure how a customer is feeling—after an online order or a support conversation—you need to get feedback on how you did.
Are you satisfied with your recent order?
Yay! or Nay!
If they are happy, great! You can start planning which restaurant to take them to. If they aren’t so keen—or maybe they didn't respond—it’s time to dig into what you can do better for the next customer.
Or maybe… have you told your friends about me? Often the first step in a serious relationship, how you get introduced to the friends and family is key to long-term success. Are you “just a friend?” Do they rave about how smart, caring, and thoughtful you are? Have they been gushing about you behind your back?
How customers talk about you to their friends and family is the very best indication of their true feelings. Recommending a service puts their reputation at risk.
Net Promoter Score (NPS) is the industry standard for measuring customer loyalty by asking if customers would recommend you. NPS surveys can be sent by email, or delivered in-app. They aren’t attached to a specific interaction as they are designed to measure the overall impression the customer has of your product.
How likely are you to recommend Company A to friends or family?
If a customer answers 9 (of 10) or higher, they are considered a promoter. They would be happy to tell their friends about you—and you should encourage them to!
If a customer answers 0-6, they are considered a detractor. They are more likely to complain about you to their friends, instead of recommending you. Better get in touch and see what’s wrong.
Are you Mr. Right? Or are you just Mr. Right Now? Understanding whether your customer is truly attached to you can be difficult. Are you solving a problem they actually have? Or could they easily do without your services?
In business, this “stickiness” between you and your customers is referred to as Product-Market Fit. Sean Ellis invented the Product-Market fit survey to determine how attached customers are to your product, and how easily they could be lured away by that hot young thang down the street.
To ask customers about product market fit, simply ask the following question:
“How would you feel if you could no longer use Company D tomorrow?”
* Very Disappointed
* Somewhat Disappointed
* Not at all Disappointed
If your customers wouldn’t miss you, you aren’t solving a real, tangible problem they have. If most (+40%) would be very disappointed, congratulations! You’ve achieved product-market fit. Customers will stick around because you’re essential to making their lives better.
Everyone loves a good chase, but no one likes a player. If you’re making it too difficult to form a relationship, you’re going to get dropped.
Turns out, playing hard to get isn’t a great strategy in business. High-effort experiences are the leading cause of disloyalty, according to a 2010 study by the CEB. 96 percent of customers who experienced a high-effort report being disloyal in the future.
What does effort look like in customer service? While you might not have defined it, you’ve certainly felt it before. It’s those times when you need to fill out three forms, repeat yourself to four different departments and wait on hold for 10 minutes before getting help. It’s spending 20 minutes looking for a phone number or email address to contact support. It’s those times when you throw up your hands and think… there’s gotta be a better way, doesn’t there?
To find where you’re making it difficult for customers, start measuring your Customer Effort Score (CES). After a conversation is resolved, send a survey over asking how much they agree with the following statement:
“Company B made it easy for me to resolve my issue today.”
If customers disagree, it means you’ve got some work to do. How can you make it easier to do business with you?
Relationships are all about communication. If you’re living together, you’ll chat all the time about everything and nothing. But for some relationships, you need to make a bigger effort to recruit feedback. Open and honest communication will only make your relationship stronger in the long run, even if it’s hard to hear at the time.
There is, but one question, that keeps you off the defense but shows that you genuinely care to improve your relationship.
“What can I (we) do to improve?”
Keeping this question open-ended leaves room for customers to be creative and tell you what’s really on their mind. You might not expect some of the answers you get!
In (customer) loyalty, as in love, candid conversations, intentional feedback, and a willingness to listen and act, will go far. And perhaps, you'll move on from all that dating...
Jakub Slámka is a CMO at Nicereply, customer experience management platform that measures CSAT, CES and NPS to delight and retain customers. Jakub loves books, rock music and everything geeky.