Editor's Note: How Do You Know What Your Customers Think?

Editor’s Note: How Do You Know What Your Customers Think?

Are your drivers asking your customers about service when they're dropping off a hot-shot delivery? asks Counterman Editor Mark Phillips.

Recently, I got off a flight for business and was walking to my car when I heard “ding!” I’d gotten yet another email on my phone. I glanced at it and found that the airline that I had just flown with was asking me how my flight experience was — the flight that I had just stepped off of. Think that sounds like a great way to gauge what I thought as a customer? I didn’t think so!

I’ll tell you why: During the entire course of flying on the airline, no one, not once, asked me how their service was. No one on the ground did either. The curb-side check-in people didn’t, the people at the gate certainly didn’t. While flight attendants were going through the plane, serving drinks and pre-packaged meals (the ones you have to pay for), they never once asked how they were doing. Yes, I get it: There are a lot of passengers on a 737. There are between three and four flight attendants for that plane. It might be impossible to complete meal service in a timely fashion if flight attendants are compelled to ask each and every customer how the service is. However, I was on a four-hour-plus flight. Somehow, somewhere, couldn’t they find it in their busy schedule to ask, “How are we doing?” Can they afford not to ask?

Maybe these days it doesn’t really matter to the airlines. In some regions of the country, if you need to get from your home city to a certain other city, you may not have much choice in what airline you can take. The airlines are reducing capacity, making fewer flights available, which makes for fuller flights and more miserable passengers. Because of the baggage fees, nearly everyone tries to bring everything they own onboard and stuff it in the overhead baggage compartment. On the flight I was on, the flight took off nearly 25 minutes late because no one could find space in the overhead compartment for their bags.

But back to customer service. As I’m standing in the airport looking at the airline’s email, “How did we do?” I’m glad I didn’t answer. I would have had a few choice words about the airline’s price, seats, service, bag fees… you name it. In fact, I still haven’t answered. I figure they don’t really care because why are they asking me in an email instead of to my face?

There’s something to be said for asking customers — when they’re right there in front of you, or with a real, live person on the phone — what they think about your service. “What could we do better?” goes a long way in person. Which is why people like your drivers are so important. Are they asking your customers about service when they’re dropping off a hot-shot delivery? If not, they need to be. Think of them as ambassadors for your store or WD. Because unlike in the airline industry, your professional customers actually do have a choice. I think it’s best not to leave questions like these up to an email. Chances are, your customers aren’t going to answer it anyway.

By the way, let me know what you thought of my column by emailing me at … (only kidding).

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