A donut for your thoughts

I could have titled this article “Box of Donuts Research,” but you would have no idea what that means. I’ll explain in a moment.

There are plenty of ways to get feedback. You can survey customers over the phone, via email, in focus groups and more. You can get objective and subjective feedback. You can use tools such as Net Promoter Score and Customer Effort Score. I could go on and on about the different ways to measure your customer’s feedback. My good friend and speech coach, Patricia Fripp—who happens to be the top speaking coach on the planet to professional speakers and executives—shared a great story about how one business got creative to get the inside scoop on what their customers were saying about them.

In addition to being a great speech coach, Patricia is also a dynamic keynote speaker. A few years ago, Patricia was delivering a keynote speech at a conference held at a luxury resort in Hawaii. After the conference, she was headed back to the airport in a private car and started a conversation with her driver. She said, “I bet all the guests of these fancy resorts tell you what they really think because they know you don’t work for them.”

He responded, “Oh yes! In fact, once a month, the general manager of the property where you stayed comes down to the depot and has coffee with the drivers. He always brings a big box of donuts. While we eat the donuts, we tell him everything we hear about his property and everything we hear about his competitors.”

What a great way to do research and get feedback! For a little time and the cost of a box of donuts, that manager got the most up-to-date and immediate feedback on what guests thought of his hotel. He also picked up invaluable information on his competition.

Think about who your customers talk to outside of your own employees. Do you have access to them? If so, have you ever talked to them about what they hear about you and your organization? It’s one thing to ask your customers for feedback. It’s totally different when it comes from a third party who has no reason not to tell you the truth. Sweeten it with some donuts or something else they might enjoy and you’ll hear all kinds of interesting, relevant and useful information.

Here is Patricia Fripp’s challenge: Who talks to your customers whom you could also talk to? Find that person—or those people—and you’ll get feedback that’s worth a lot more than the cost of a few donuts!