Most people run their business, just based on their own ideas and own way of doing things. The only problem with this is it takes years to get anywhere. Many end up making a lot of mistakes because they plod along and use the old trial and error method. They do something that doesn’t work, then try something else and if they’re lucky, eventually they’ll get results.
If you want to build a successful and profitable business, what every business owner must do is go outside of their comfort zones and ask others for feedback, and suggestions and ultimately learn from other people’s experiences. If you want to tap into other people’s experiences, then the thing that you need to do is you need to ask.
Of all the people to take advice from, your customers should be at the top of your list. Why? Because these are the people who know first-hand the strengths and weaknesses of your product or service, don’t you think it’s kind of important to listen to them?
Now you may be wondering, ‘how do I get advice from my customers?’
Well, you ask questions of course. And we have discovered that the better the questions, the more potent the answers. Here are 10 favourite questions to ask every customer:
1. How did you find out about us?
This question is pretty obvious and simple, however, it’s really powerful. As a business owner, you should never miss asking this question to every customer you talk to.
When speaking to clients, one of the questions we always ask is, “What is your most profitable marketing method?” Some would respond, “I don’t know. I just do a bit of everything and thankfully people come through my door.” This is what we call the ‘let’s throw some mud at the wall and hope something sticks’ mentality.
This may work for a period of time, however as your business starts to grow, you are going to attract more competition. When this happens you can’t afford to be wasteful. Your survival is going to depend on your ability to know what marketing channels are effective. So from now on, ask every customer you talk to, “So how did you find out about us?”
Remember, this question is something that you really want to ask while it’s fresh in someone’s mind. So think about when is it going to be for you. During the initial phone call, a face-to-face conversation, or will you be automating this through a digital form that people will complete?
2. Why did you choose us?
This is one of the more simple questions that so many people don’t ask. When we ask business owners, “Why do your customers buy from you?” And all that stares back at us are blank faces. Then when asked again, they make up something like, “Because we are cheaper”. Generally, that’s not it.
When someone buys, you want to find out why they chose your product or service over all the other options that they had. So be sure to ask everyone from now on. You’ll be surprised how much value you’ll get from the language that people use to describe why they joined can be really powerful from a marketing point of view.
In fact, to fast-track things, you can even ask retrospectively. Spend a couple of hours, call fifty past customers – you’ll be amazed at what you learn. When one of our members did this, the number one reason they got was, “Because you always greet me with a smile and remember my name.” Imagine what it is really costing you when you hire an unfriendly person!
3. Why didn’t you buy?
If you don’t know why customers did not buy your product or service, then you would not know what to fix. This is why it’s essential to ask this question every time someone says no to your offer.
By asking this question, what you’ll find is either it had nothing to do with you or someone actually gives you a genuine reason that you could do something about it. The latter will help you to be better when it comes to putting together your product or service, or when it comes to selling or marketing what you do.
4a. Once you used our product or service, what benefits did you receive?
This question should not be asked when they’re a prospect. They have to be a customer to ask this question. Maybe it’s a month or two months or once they’ve experienced the value of your service.
With this one, it’s best to set up an automation so you won’t forget to ask for your customer’s feedback. Set up an email campaign that gets sent 30 days after someone buys your product or service. You could also set up a reminder for one of your team to call them.
4b. Once you used our product or service, what problems went away?
Most people buy products or services to solve problems. But some business owners don’t know the problems that their product or service solves. Not knowing this information makes it extremely difficult to be effective in your marketing.
So ask your customers, “Once you used our product/service what problems of yours were solved?” If they are unable to respond straight away, stay with this line of questioning. Keep asking the same question, but do so in different ways. Your job here is to dig deep and uncover the often subconscious reasons why people make decisions.
Then when you have this information, talk to your marketing team and they can turn these insights into great headlines, powerful images or even special promotions. Do this right and prospective customers will feel an instant connection.
5. When is your birthday?
This is a really easy one. All you do is add one extra field to your customer sign-up form – Date of Birth. Just add it in there after the email address and before the phone numbers. They’ll fill it out and won’t even give it a second thought. Then ensure that the date is entered into your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.
At Business Blueprint, we programmed our CRM to email one of our team five days before a client’s birthday. When that email comes in they hand-write a card and pop it in with a little pressie to be mailed. When this happens, customers are amazed. They say things to us like, “Oh my God, how did you know?” Or, “My husband/kids don’t even remember my birthday.” Imagine the positive word of mouth this creates.
6. What did you think of our product or service?
This question is a tough one, but it has to be asked. So after a customer has had the chance to experience your service ask them, “What did you think of our service?” If they give you a flippant answer like, “Yeah, it was good,” ask again. “No, tell me honestly… what did you think of your experience?”
Now if you are squirming as you read this, you might have a problem, as you should be able to ask this question with confidence and without the fear that you are going to be opening a can of worms.
So again, work hard to close the gaps. Take the time to review your entire sales and service experience. Then look for ways that you can improve.
7. What’s one thing we could do better?
Further to the question above, this one is all about going deeper. Let’s say you’ve done a great job, you ask the question above and the person genuinely says, “I’ve loved your service, it’s great”. Rather than leaving it there ask, “Well if there was one thing we could do better, what would it be?”
The way this question is phrased forces people to come up with something. That one thing might have gone undetected and it may be the key to unlocking something very powerful about your business. So keep asking the question and if you continuously fix these issues, you’ll soon build an unstoppable business.
8. How would you feel about recommending us to others?
If you received a positive response to question six, then you can proceed to ask customers if they want to recommend your product or service. Basically, what you’re doing here is asking for a referral. Once customers give you referrals, make sure to take their email addresses and phone numbers so you can start getting in touch with them.
9. Do you know of any companies we should align with?
Next, you want to ask customers, “Do you know any companies we should align with?” By asking this question people start thinking and after a few moments they say, “Yes you need to speak to my ‘ABC’ company and you should also talk to ‘XYZ’.”
This is great business, as you can call on these companies and say, “One of our mutual customers John Smith suggested we talk. He sees an opportunity for us to work together so we can both benefit. Are you open to meeting for a coffee so we can discuss some ideas?”
And just like that, you are in.
10. What else would you like us to sell?
This question is a killer question and can seriously open the door to thousands or even millions of dollars in extra profits.
Now one word of warning, don’t ask this question during sign up or even during the delivery phase of your service. Only ask this question when you have gained a sufficient rapport with your customer and you are talking like friends.
When you think you are ready, ask them, “What else would you like us to sell?” Notice I didn’t say, “What else would you like to buy?” If you ask the buy question, people will normally say, “I’m fine right now.” Or they ask you, “Well what else can I buy?” This is a good conversation to have, however, the sell question will get you and your customer thinking about new products and services – ones that aren’t even on your radar yet.
You see, when you sell someone a product you solve a problem but you create another. And if you aren’t aware of the extra problems you create, your customers will go elsewhere to solve them.
For example, here at Business Blueprint, we help people increase their business profits, solving the problem of not having enough money. But we create the problem of what they are going to do now with their extra profits. So by asking our clients what else would they like us to offer, we have learnt that they like to know how to invest profits, build wealth and learn how to protect their income. So we have now started providing training about quality investment opportunities and business insurance.
What to Do Next
If you have a team, this is only going to work if you get them involved. So run training on these questions and then every month have a meeting where staff can share what they’ve learnt. It’s a process but if you do it right, millions of dollars await you.