If you’re like me, you’re most comfortable talking to your best customers. They love your products or service, or both, and they say you’re doing a great job.

While it’s exciting to get that kind of feedback, it isn’t necessarily the constructive criticism you often need to improve your business. Ultimately, getting feedback from customers who are less satisfied with your product or service will help your team make positive adjustments. So instead, speak with customers who have voiced concerns about your product or your service or who have even left you for a competitor.

To do this, put yourself in unique situations where you are more likely to receive comments from unsatisfied customers.

I heard great feedback this summer when our company sponsored a social outing to a major league baseball game during an industry conference. A gentleman approached me to thank EnerBank for taking his group to the game, but he then went on to say, “Here’s why I don’t send you business anymore.”

Casual setting are ideal for hearing criticisms that might help you retain clients or regain a lost one.
Casual setting are ideal for hearing criticisms that might help you retain clients or regain a lost one.

During what ended up being a 30-minute conversation, I learned a great deal about our service that wasn’t working for his business. He appreciated that I spent the time with him, and I appreciated that he was willing to provide such valuable insight I likely wouldn’t have heard otherwise.

It hurt to hear, but right in front of me was someone who cared enough to offer feedback.

Some of the things he suggested were changes we already had in the works, and he asked if he could be part of the first initial rollout to provide feedback before the full-scale rollout. Right there at the stadium, I was able to potentially increase revenue by winning him back as a customer – and build a friendship.

This example goes beyond the normal procedure we have for receiving suggestions and critiques –, and yes, we have a formal process for soliciting feedback, and so should you. Ours includes a bi-weekly meeting with the sales staff and our operations officer, as well as a monthly meeting with the sales staff and all executives.

We also routinely visit larger customers to ascertain how we might serve them better. While on these trips, we examine if there is an opportunity to take side trips to gain feedback from smaller customers or others who may have expressed dissatisfaction.

While this formal process of soliciting feedback is in place, we additionally seek opportunities for feedback in casual environments. We’ve met people who were looking for payment solutions at trade shows, where former customers are also more likely to feel comfortable offering feedback.

Anything you can do, anywhere, to communicate that you appreciate feedback – positive or negative – can help your business’s bottom line.

Sales are definitely key, but retaining clients by taking the time to receive critiques can ultimately make your sales team’s job even easier.

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