I have been spending a lot of time working in my yard the past few days.  As a result I have had quite a bit of time to think.

I have written about relationship marketing, customer experience, and asking the right questions recently, so these topics were top of mind.

Did I mention I have been working in my yard? I take a great deal of pride in my yard’s appearance.  For a number of reasons I choose to trust the care of my yard to a lawn service.  Some time ago I switched companies because I was frustrated with the results.

I was spending quite a bit of money and didn’t feel the yard reflected that level of expense.  When I walked through the neighborhood I noticed that those who did their own yard work had lawns that looked better than mine, so I switched.

The new company started well, sending out an expert to evaluate my yard and he recommended a course of action.  Now this company is part of a national chain, and they are very adept at marketing.  Frequently I received a call recommending additional treatments and so I agreed.

So, from the perspective of the company I am quite a catch.  If you look at my account you will see that I have been cross-sold and up-sold.  I would guess I am a pretty profitable customer.  Frequently I am asked to rate the performance of the company, that is, how are they doing in delivering their products and services.

These questions are all very good questions, and they should ask them. However; as I have been working in my yard something has been bothering me and it finally hit me.  What is the one question they haven’t asked me?

How do I feel about my yard?  A question like – On a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being I am ready to toss you out and 5 being I love everything you do – rate us.  A question like this would offer a great deal of insight into the status of our relationship.

This question speaks to the emotional connection between Me, the yard and this company.  If they would ask me this question I would give them a 2.  I am spending a lot of money from my perspective and my yard doesn’t reflect it.  I only have to look across the street to be reminded of this.

If I were this company and I saw the 2, I would want to do something to try and rescue this relationship. Ideally, I would have noticed the downward trend, or better yet, I could ask a follow-up question like “what would it take to get a 5?” This would offer a great deal of insight, but it would also take some internal collaboration between marketing and sales to share this insight in order to make it actionable.

This week I am contacting a local landscaper who has been recommended by a good friend of mine. I’ll be interested to see what kind of questions he asks.  Effective relationship marketing must keep the customer experience in clear focus.

This experience is a reminder that a “one-size-fits-all” marketing approach will lack the personal touch necessary to create an ideal customer experience. The “right” question will always vary, depending on the circumstance. How do you determine the right questions to ask?