Reporter's Blog

Do You Survey Your Customers?

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Recently, I had the pleasure of talking to Phoenix shop owner and Ratchet+Wrench Editorial Advisory Board member Jimmy Alauria of 3A Automotive for an upcoming R+W-related project on which I'm working (more info coming soon!). It was a fun interview about a topic so basic that it can sometimes get obscured: the customer experience.

Funny enough, when I say "interview," the roles were actually reversed for once: Jimmy interviewed me. About what I look for in a shop, what's important to me during the shop experience, biggest pet peeves, etc. And it got us thinking: How often do we do this, as business owners? Just sit down with customers and ask for their honest feedback? Sure, we ask for online reviews or send follow-up emails, but I'm talking about a sit-down, one-on-one conversation. 

There's so much to be gleaned from conversations like thatespecially if you're willing to go in with an open mind and accept honest, difficult feedback. What Jimmy and I realized as we talked is that it's easy to make assumptions about customers and what they want. Your people are in the shop every day talking to them; why wouldn't they know what customers want?! And while that's definitely true, customer desires change over time, not to mention that there are also a variety of types of customers all with different wants and needs.

Surveying your customers more frequently is really a win-win, too: either you learn that you're spot-on and serving them effectively, or you might pick up on very simple tweaks and changes you can make to improve their experiences. For example, one of the pet peeves I mentioned to Jimmy is that I don't like when the team member answering the phone sounds rushed or too busy to answer my call. That's a very practical, specific change to work on.

The conversation inspired Jimmy to create his own customer survey and reach out to more customers for feedback, the results of which we'll report back on soon, as well as provide that survey to all our readers. But in the meantime, I wanted to start the conversation. Do you survey your customers? How do you maintain an open line of communication with them?

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