External Customer Connection Questions
Research tells us that “good decision making” is one of the highest organizational priorities for leaders. Intentionally connecting with and seeking the input of external customers reflects the highest level of commitment to better decision making since you are asking your customer to define what quality service means.
Why are external customer connection questions important?
Most of us want to:
- be known for excellent service to all customers
- consider how decisions will impact the customer
- work in an organization that is known for excellent service
- collect and use feedback from all customers for improvement
- recognize employees who provide excellent quality of care for customers
Leaders are responsible for ensuring the intentional use of external feedback to improve the team’s service. The willingness of a customer to recommend your organization or service to others is the most important feedback item in our research on customer engagement and satisfaction. Connecting with customers and making them feel valued builds trust in the service you provide. This also increases customer confidence and leader competence in organizational decision making.
The deliberate practice of finding out what matters to external customers tells all stakeholders you care about making well-informed decisions and value continuous improvement.
What are external customer connection questions?
The External Customer Connection Questions (ECCQs) tactic includes two components, the questions to ask customers and follow-up once the information is gathered. We suggest that leaders use a common set of external customer connection questions to gain insight from external customers. The questions are:
- What is working well with the service we provide to you?
- Is there anything our team could do to better serve you?
- Who on our team has been especially helpful to you? What did he/she do?
As you are asking the questions, remember to take notes. Doing something with the information you gather is as important as gathering it.
How should I ask external customer connection questions?
Select a minimum of 3 external customers to talk with each month. There are various ways to make meaningful connections with an intentional focus.
- Schedule a time to call the three customers. Use this time to engage in a conversation using the three external customer questions.
- Let them know immediately why you are calling and the outcome you want to achieve. Also, tell them you look forward to spending a few minutes with them.
- Always remain considerate of the customers’ time. If they are in the middle of something, in a hurry, distracted, or seemed rushed, schedule another time to connect.