For more than 20 years now, Beechworth Bakery has been literally asking the customer: “How can we serve you better?” We ask this question on comment cards located throughout our bakeries. And the feedback we get is so valuable.
This dialogue with our customers has been a big part of our success. Over the years, we have received tens of thousands of comments. And we have written back to every single one (most people put down their full address).
It’s all about creating a meaningful relationship with our customers and listening to them. It’s a constant process of keeping in touch and trying to understand them. We are in business to serve the customer and at times we can forget that. The comments have given us some wonderful and powerful stories over the years. They give customers a voice, as well as a chance to give us their praise, criticism and ideas.
Our managers and staff take this feedback on board. All the staff get to read the comments. At the end of each day, they get put up in the staff room. Then, at the end of every week, the manager sits down and writes back to every single one.
When writing back, we have to see the situation through the customers’ eyes. We can’t go blaming or justifying what we stuffed up. We’ve just got to apologise if there’s been a problem and return their money or do whatever needs to be done.
When a customer loves your business enough to take action – any action – you had better take notice. How many times have you sidestepped an irate customer because you didn’t need the stress? How many suggestion cards have you left waiting in a box before you found the time to look at them? When the comment boxes are emptied at the end of each day, we deal with any serious problems straightaway. We don’t wait for a week.
Thank your customers for complaining. Be grateful they’re helping you. They could just leave forever and not tell you why. Having these comment boxes in our shops is one more way of keeping close to our customers. That’s a priority for us.
Make it easy for the customers to give you their thoughts and ideas. Help the customer help you. Get them behind your brand. Learn to think and feel as they do. Become a customer in your shop on a regular basis.