One of the most underutilized business practices today is doing an internal audit of your customer experience.

We audit our financials each year, why don’t we do the same for customer experience?

The phrase that best describes doing an audit of customer experience is, “Inspect what you expect.”

Often, we get too preoccupied in making sure that we are keeping up with outside influences, like competition, that we neglect everything that is happening inside of our business.

We’ve all heard the saying, “Work on your business, not in your business” but I think there are a few exceptions.

Customer service is continuing to receive the investment it deserves but we are not all there yet. Take a look at the organizations around that you admire such as Amazon and Apple.

Why is it that we love them?

  • It’s not because they are profitable (many of us aren’t shareholders and don’t see their profits).
  • It’s not because their CEO’s are Jeff Bezos and Tim Cook.
  • It’s because they have long term strategies that invest in customer experience and make our lives easier

The reason these two have grown into billion dollar brands is because they have the right customer experience strategy and programs in place to support their customer service.

The small business owner reading this might be thinking,

“Michel, I can’t relate to Amazon they are too big.”

You’re right they are big but remember they started off just like you. Jeff Bezos and his team started in 1997 in a garage. You can’t get any more “small business” than that.

Here are three areas of your business you need to evaluate immediately that will tell you if you’re operating exceptionally.

  • How are you hiring your employees?

You can have all the high end software or systems in the world but if the people operating them aren’t a cultural fit or have customer experience in their DNA then it’s good for nothing. Evaluate the way you’re recruiting and interviewing your employees, there may be some quick fixes to improve that process.

When I visited Zappos HQ in 2008, I learned their ‘will vs. skill’ hiring format. A candidate comes in for an interview on day one to be tested on ‘will’ related questions. If they pass, they will come back for the ‘skill’ portion on a separate day.

Adopt the ‘will vs skill’ format today to see results tomorrow.

  • How are you training your employees?

You know what’s crazy! One of our biggest fears is the day our children turn 16, pass their drivers exam, and have to hand them the keys to our car.

We should be more scared when we hand the keys to our business, which pays for the car, to employees who aren’t trained properly.

Too often we hire someone then hand them the keys to our business without providing the proper training.

Many businesses teach their employees about the ABC’s of customer service which includes very low level customer service training methods. In today’s business landscape, where our customers have more influence than ever before, we need to be teaching them of the high level theories of customer experience.

Take a look at your training program. Are you teaching your employees what organic growth is? How about defining the three customer personalities? Or, the difference between customer service, customer experience and customer centricity? If not, you have an opportunity for improvement.

  • How are you collecting customer feedback?

Remove yourself as a business person and act as a customer for a moment.

Within the last 24 hours you most likely purchased something like a haircut or groceries. Were you surveyed after your experience? I’d bet that you most likely weren’t. I’m going to pre-emptively suggest that you may not complete customer surveys because of a few reasons:

  • My customers don’t want to complete them
  • I don’t have the time or resources
  • I have used surveys before but they didn’t change my business

Let’s look at the rebuttals to these objections.

  • The thought that your customers don’t want to fill them out is completely anecdotal. Or, perhaps, it’s because your surveys are too long asking too many questions which is causing “survey fatigue.”
  • You do have the time, you just need to find it. Depending on the size of your business and customer base, reserve a certain amount of time to put together an operational survey program. As for resources, if you’re a small business use a free service like Survey Monkey. If you’re a medium to large sized brand, use Customer Gauge (full disclosure: I have a working relationship and financial interest in this company).
  • My first question to this objection would be, “What did you do to drive change?” After gathering customer feedback, you need to separate the good and bad. The good: celebrate with your team and reward them. The bad: evaluate the feedback “under a microscope” and figure out an approach to reduce the bad.

Customer intelligence means that you know as much as possible about your customer’s behaviours. Asking for and doing something with customer feedback is the greatest way to know your customers habits, desires and aversions.

There you have it, three ways to tell how you’re customer experience is operating.

Do you have any success or failures in launching a customer survey program? If so, share your stories within the comments section below.