Comment Cards
Have you ever filled out a comment card?  Maybe at a restaurant, store or other service provider?  Odds are, you have only filled them out in one of two instances.

The first type of experience that is mostly likely going to result in a comment is a negative one.  It is in response to feeling very displeased with the experience.

You could have been ignored, treated poorly, received the incorrect item more than once, or otherwise gotten to a point where you are willing to go out of your way to let someone know you will not be back.  Likely even badly enough to influence others you know, so they won’t share the same experience.

On a scale of 1 to 5, the 1’s are the most likely to not only be lost customers, but cost you more customers because they will spread the word.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the delighted experience.  This is the over the top, great experience that you’d share with your friends.

It could have been service where they were attentive, without being overwhelming about it.  Made you feel welcome and at home.  Came to the dressing room with something else in your size they thought you would like based on what they saw you walk in with.  It’s the little extras.  The things that put a smile on your face and leave you happy you came.

On the scale, it’s the 5 that not only means you have a loyal customer, but someone who will bring more customers to your door.  They will do your advertising for you.

The customer that should worry you is the “no comment.”  They are not so displeased that they will leave you (and take others with them), but they are also not so impressed that they will remain loyal (and bring others to you).  They could go either way.  As long as your service is okay, prices are competitive, and there isn’t something better around the corner, then they will probably come back.  They are the customer who’s passively looking.

What about as a leader?  There may not be something as obvious as comment cards, but there are indications on how you’re doing.  You just have to look for them.  Many companies have employee opinion surveys or 360 reviews.  Take them seriously.  They can be a great tool to help determine where you have opportunity to improve, and what you should keep doing.  With or without them, you can always look for signs and/or input for your own form of comment cards.

An example of the negative…If you have individuals leaving your team in droves?  Well, outside of any extenuating circumstances, that’s probably an indication that there is something wrong, they won’t be back, and they’ll tell their friends and colleagues to keep a safe distance from the team/organization/company.  If you have open positions and individuals on the team are referring their friends and colleagues, encouraging them to apply, that’s a great sign that things are going well.  While retention and referral rates are potential indicators of how things are going, it’s the individual with “no comment” that keeps me up at night.

If something is wrong and I know about it, I can fix it.  If it’s really great, I can keep doing it.  But what about that so-so feeling in the middle?  The “no comment” is what drives me to improve.  Individuals who are neither excited or dismayed with my team might say “Things are okay, so I’ll stay, but I’ll leave if I find something better.”  “No comment” does the job that’s asked, and that’s about it.  He or she isn’t excited about being here or putting in any extra effort.  The “no comment” says I’m doing mediocre as a leader, and mediocrity has never been something I strive for.

If I’m at a “1,” then I should probably be looking for a new line of work.  If I am at a “5,” I have it all nailed and I can put my feet up for a while.  Neither is realistic.  I look to see if folks shy away from participating in opportunities we have available.  Are they putting in the bare minimum time each week and watching the clock?  Do they give me a blank look when I ask how they think things are going?

As long as some individuals are operating as though they are in a “5” environment – raising their hands, putting in extra time when needed, and providing vocal feedback where we excel or can improve, it means I’m headed in the right direction.  Though it will likely never be universal, it does mean there will always be a job for me to do and room for me to improve.

So why is this important?  Happy employees work harder and provide better service to your customers.  If they are happy to be here, they will make customers happy to do business with you.  If you are in the business of depending on customers’ perception of you – most of the working population is in some capacity – how we are doing internally can have a huge impact on how we are doing externally.

I doubt it’s possible that an organization full of employees that see the company as mediocre can have customers that view the company as a “5.”  It just goes against all common sense.  Treat your team well, give them reasons to be delighted with your team/organization/company, and they will give your customers reasons to be delighted in return.