If you had the chance to ask your customers anything, what would it be?
Would it be some variation on ...
“What the heck are you thinking?”
If so, you’re not alone.
Even with today’s data analytics, customers remain largely inscrutable – and those are the people you can see most clearly. You’ll get very little info directly from early-stage leads and prospects and will have to figure out their motives through inference.
By comparison, your existing customers are an open book ... if you remember to open it. Not only can you email them any time – with, say a survey – you can also call them and build further rapport.
That raises another question: Exactly what should you ask?
Although your imagination might run wild when you contemplate getting straight answers from your customers, you’re limited by the amount of attention they’re willing to give you. In any one encounter, you should try to focus on just 1-3 questions.
To get the most information in the shortest time, try these:
1. How Likely is it You Would Recommend our Product/Service to a Friend or Colleague?
If you’ve done customer service surveys, you’re probably familiar with this one: It’s the legendary Net Promoter Score question.
This is one of the fastest ways to learn what your customers really think of your brand. After all, when someone gives a recommendation – in the B2B world especially – they are putting their own reputation on the line. Are you worth it?
This is a great question to lead off with because it puts all the rest in context.
Make sure you are tracking the results and reporting them widely to product management, product development, and others who have a stake in how your offering actually performs.
2. What Made You Decide to Buy From Us in the First Place?
Closing an agreement with a new customer is a big win, so it’s important to figure out why it happened.
When you understand the key contributing factors, you can distill those into real “lessons learned” for your whole organization. This can also show you when your relationship with a customer needs further work; no one wants to be told they were “best on price.”
You can use these answers to help the sales team hone their discovery calls and other customer contact. They are also helpful for product leaders and senior executives, in cases where responses disclose how the product strategy as a whole is positively impacting business.
3. What is the One Thing You Wish Your Vendors Would Do That No One Does?
While question #2 gives you an idea of your current differentiator, this question offers you a sense of future possibilities.
Every organization has areas for improvement, but by asking this question, you’ll highlight what’s most important to a particular customer. It might not take much effort at all to make their dreams come true, solidifying your preferred status for years to come.
When answered thoughtfully, this question can give you pinpoint feedback laser focused on one aspect of your value chain. Whatever it turns out to be, make sure the information is conveyed to a responsible team leader who can put it into action as soon as possible.
4. If You Could Change One Thing About Our Product or Service, What Would it Be?
This is a terrific question for SaaS enterprises, since you can transmute it directly into future features.
Depending on your turnaround time, you may be able to touch back with customers while their feedback – and the needs it represents – is still fresh in their mind. Keep an eye on this question long-term, since repeating answers from multiple customers can highlight bigger problems.
Like question #3, you really never know what you’ll get here. You could find out about an issue in your sales, marketing, customer service, or anything else. Sometimes, you might even get feedback about one particular member of your team.
5. What Else Would You Like Us to Know?
When you ask an open-ended question, you either get a response packed with valuable insight ... or nothing at all.
Still, it’s worthwhile to make the space to ask this one. No matter how rigorous your efforts are, you don’t know what you don’t know ... and neither does anyone else.
This question gives your customers the chance to volunteer information specifically about what matters to them – and what matters to someone is the most important thing that you can know about anyone at any time, whether you can act on it right at that moment is another story!
No matter what you ask, it’s best to keep the conversation going. The bond with your customers doesn’t end after the buy.
With regular contact, you can leave them confident you really understand their needs.