I recently completed my training for a private pilot’s license and am now certified by the FAA to go fly an airplane all by myself. I can even bring passengers! Which is, honestly, a little terrifying. But the more I fly the better I get and one day I probably will be able to talk someone into going with me.
The reason I bring it up though is because as I went through the process I was frequently thinking of ways things could be improved.
Not that they did a bad job, but there were a lot of little things I thought could have been better that would have helped me, and likely most other students, learn faster and feel more confident sooner.
The question is why weren’t they doing them already? And I am sure the answer is because once you’ve been there awhile and gotten used to “how it is” then you no longer remember or appreciate how hard it can be for someone who is new.
You’re only new and a rookie for a short amount of time before you also get used to things being the way they are and you are used to the routine.
Unfortunately, it’s a wasted resource if each new person with fresh eyes and new ideas is just indoctrinated into “the way it is” instead of given the opportunity to share how it could be improved. But it doesn’t have to be like that!
I’m going to give you several ways you can learn from new customers, new employees, and new vendors ways you can improve your business and step up your process from “the way it is” to “the way it could be”!
How to Get Quick Helpful Feedback from Fresh Perspectives
Chances are if you’ve been in business for any amount of time you’ve developed some ways of doing things that are pretty automatic. And some of it may have been the direct result of something that happened once or twice you were trying to solve for in the future.
For example, I still occasionally run into places that only take checks or cash because they “got burned” a few times by credit card chargebacks or they don’t want to “pay those fees” that go along with accepting credit cards.
But if they surveyed their customer to see how many would actually prefer to pay by card – and may come more or buy more or be less inclined to look for an alternate if they didn’t have to remember to bring cash every time they might realize this may be holding them back more than it’s solving problems.
So the first way to get feedback is to simply ask your customers! If you have a business that lets you communicate with them in person or on the phone, you can literally just take a minute and ask – “if you don’t mind, is there anything about your experience with us as a customer we could improve for you, I’d love to know” and then see what they say. Some may now have any feedback but you might be surprised what you hear. And I bet a lot of requests will be easy, low or no-cost things you can do to make it a better experience for them. Things you didn’t even realize were an issue because you are so ingrained in the business already.
If you mostly communicate by email, try sending customers a short survey. And of course, any time someone leaves a review – read it as unemotionally as you can. Some of it may just be ranting, but sometimes there are valid points in between the crazy!
The second way to get feedback is to ask new employees. Once they get started, take the time to ask them what parts of the business they find confusing or if they have any thoughts on what could help them train faster, or even if they have ideas on how to improve the business. Just because they are new they may be hesitant to speak up and you may initially think someone new won’t know enough to contribute.
In my experience, it’s the new perspective, and asking what might seem like a simple question at first really does get people thinking and the idea is valid. Don’t brush off either their willingness to share or the quality of the idea until you really think about it for a minute.
The third way is to talk to vendors. They work with you, but also other businesses like yours and they see different approaches to the same kinds of problems and challenges. It never hurts to take a minute to ask them their thoughts on what they think of your business, how it compares to others, and things you do well versus where they see potentially better ways to do things other places.
Of course, they don’t want to offend you so you have to frame it in a positive way when you ask and be legitimately open to hearing what they have to say. They may very well have some good feedback you can really use to improve how you do things.
The bottom line is every business has room for improvement. It may not be obvious to the owner or even the long-time employees who have all become used to the way things work there. But customers, new employees, and vendors may all have worthwhile feedback to share about how you can do better which in turn will help the business grow and profit.
So don’t be afraid to ask how you can do better and then actually listen to the answers! It will do wonders for your business if you let it.