Establish the Strategy
Now, you can’t just hit them with that question out of the blue; you have to put it in context. So here’s what you say to establish this strategy: “Your satisfaction is really important to me, so I would like to get in touch with you every month (or every quarter) and ask you to tell me the temperature of our relationship. We’ll use 98.6 degrees as the baseline, so if everything’s fine, that’s what I hope you’ll tell me. And if things are better than fine; for example, if you want to recognize that we’ve been exceptional in terms of quality and/or service, you could tell me 102 degrees or maybe even 104 degrees. Most importantly, though, if everything’s less than fine, you can give me a number that indicates just how big a problem we have, and then I can get started at solving it and building your level of customer satisfaction back up to where we both want it to be.”
The bottom line here is one question and one answer, and that answer tells you where you may need to go next. If the temperature is high, say “Thank you, I appreciate your business. And you can expect me to ask you again in a month (or three months) – but if anything changes between now and then, please tell me right away!” If the temperature is below 98.6 degrees, identify the problem and get started on the solution.
If you’re consistent, you’ll accomplish three things. First, you’ll communicate the value you place on the relationship. Second, you’ll catch small problems while they’re still small, before they have a chance to grow and fester and destroy a relationship. Third, you’ll catch any big problems while they’re still relatively fresh, which gives you the greatest likelihood of resolving them and salvaging the relationship.
The more you know about your business, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to improve it. And the more you know about your customers the less likely it is that you’ll lose them.