Are you really listening to your customers or only pretending to?

Published · 3 min read

Some of the most valuable information you will ever receive in running your business effectively will come from either current or past clients.

I find far too many business owners are caught up in day to day operation, or too worried about what they might learn if they get feedback, so they never ask.

Recently, I offered feedback to my local gym. I want to relate what happened, so that you can use this insight in your business.

Once a month I ‘take the risk’ of stepping on the scale to examine my progress.

The scale is located right in the path of the offices of the staff.

Looking at the photo on the left, you can see that the scale is located in a narrow hallway, usually with a recycling bin on the other side, thereby being awkward if staff go by, when someone is using the scale.

As there is no bench for the gym member to use when taking off and putting on their gym shoes, the member stands in the middle of the hallway.

I brought this to the attention of two different staff (not key decision makers). On both occasions, I asked them if they saw any challenge for someone wanting to use the scale. Both said that they didn’t.

It wasn’t until I showed them what it was like to take off my shoes, step on the scale, and then go to put the shoes back on that they said that they had seen this situation before with other members. Yet, nothing had ever been down to rectify the situation.

I suggested that they invest in an inexpensive bench that was low in height to assist the members. I stressed that it should be low, so that members could easily place their shoes on their feet without having the inconvenience of sitting on a high stool, which likely would not be used.

Just to the left of the scales there were already high benches, so I showed them what I meant by having a low bench instead. They fully agreed with my suggestion, and said that they would present this to the general manager.

Several weeks later, I noticed that nothing had changed, but I was assured a low bench had been ordered and would be there very soon. In fact, a personal trainer nearby mentioned that he had spoken to the general manager when he heard of my request, to support this new acquisition. He had witnessed a number of his clients having the same challenge.

I walked away feeling like the management had truly heard the feedback from a client. Then weeks later I noted that their idea of remedying the situation was to provide a new high chair, the same height as other chairs in the area (picture to the right).

I was dumbfounded…why bother ordering a new high chair, when you could have just pulled one of the other chairs over and used that weeks ago when I mentioned this?

Then, I was frustrated that I had wasted my time speaking to the staff, giving feedback on how they could better serve their members.

So, how does this apply to you and your business?

Well, here is an example of a current client offering feedback, and being led to believe that the concern was important enough for the business to take action to resolve it.

Interestingly, a brand new gym has opened up right across the street. Does my gym want to run the risk of losing members to the competition, with actions like this? This type of response probably indicates that they don’t care.

Points to ponder:

  • Where in your business do you solicit feedback from current or past clients, to find out how well you and/or your staff are performing?
  • If you are soliciting or receiving unsolicited feedback are you using it to improve your services or product?
  • What system can you set up or improve upon to get regular feedback, from current and past clients, and even those individuals or companies that did not buy from you – yes they can give you great insight too?

To hear more business advice from Sharon tune into her latest podcast interview with Ed Kless.

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