There are many methods you can use to gauge customer opinions about your business—such as asking about the quality of your products, services, or processes, the benefits you offer, your pricing compared to competitors’ offerings, etc. However, customers sometimes cannot tell you important information you really need to know in order to continually improve your business.
Feedback, while always important to collect, can be incomplete and sometimes confusing. An approach that can help is to examine your business from the point of view of your customer. Look beyond reactions to a specific product or service and find out instead about the entire experience a consumer has with your business—from the point of entry to the browsing/ordering process, customer service, and all the steps through which customers proceed to the purchase and use of your products or services. Shifting perspective to that of your customer enables you to see the business from an entirely different viewpoint. Some firms employ mystery shoppers to pose as customers and describe their experiences. Owners and employees can do this as well, by navigating the business from start to finish, observing what works well and what falls short, and remedying the problems as they arise.
Lisa Gundry, Ph.D. Professor of Management Director, the Center for Creativity & Innovation DePaul University