Customer Service and the Power of FeedbackI was driving down the highway the other day when I passed a truck and took notice of the sign on the back of the truck. We’ve all seen the sign for years, the one that asks:

“How Am I Driving?”

Now, this particular truck driver was driving quite well at that moment, but over the years I’ve had plenty of moments where I wished I had a number like this to call to report some crazy driver. Interestingly enough, these signs first started popping up on trucks in the days before cell phones. If you really wanted to report the driver, you had to make a note of the number (if you could see it as the truck sped by you), and then remember to make the call when you were near a phone. Not an easy task. But today, we can get right on our phones and call, while still sharing the road with the trucker. I’ve always wondered how many calls they get. And do they ever get a call where the person says:

“I would just like to report that the driver of your truck was driving magnificently! It was a pleasure to share the road with him!”

Probably not. We’re not wired to praise good behavior, at least not in that way.

But there are three reasons I love these signs:

1) It shows that the company takes its business seriously.

2) It theoretically functions as a deterrent to the truck driver, inspiring him to be a smart driver.

3) Gives others a means of voicing their opinion. Without that sign and number, we’d have no real way of contacting the company.

A restaurant client of mine uses comment cards that are presented with the bill. They encourage patrons to fill out their thoughts about the meal and the service, and they take those comments seriously.

People have always had the ability to complain, but not always in means that were effective. We’ve always had the ability to tell others about those businesses we like and don’t like, as well as tell the business privately.

But building an online social presence can act much like the sign on the back of the truck. Just by creating a presence you are opening yourself up to comments from your supporters and detractors alike. A Facebook page is a silent invitation for feedback. And, of course, you can always be more proactive and actually solicit feedback.

Tell us how we’re doing!

Make it a point to actively ask for feedback, both on- and off-line. By doing so, you will reap the three benefits mentioned earlier:

1) Customers will see that you are serious about your business.

2) Employees and management understand that by asking for feedback, they are being held accountable.

3) Customers understand that they are free to voice their opinions, and might just take you up on that.

If you are doing your job right, and providing the best combination of products and customer service, then you have nothing to fear. The praises and positive comments should far outweigh the negative ones.

Don’t think of social media as merely a means of spewing out your marketing messages. Think of it as a means of getting feedback, solicited and unsolicited, from your customers. Take the time and ask:

Hey, how are we doing?

You might be surprised with the response, and it will certainly keep you on your toes. And there’s nothing like a little free research.

Oh, and when you’re on the receiving end of an invitation for feedback, don’t just respond when you have bad things to say. Feel free to let businesses know when you’re happy with them.

Are you using your online presence as a means of getting feedback? Are you being proactive about soliciting feedback from your customers?