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Dan Fine blogs:

We all know the old adage “the customer is always right”, but how many of us believe it? Well, I would like to think the majority do.

Another question: how many of us are ready to hear the customer’s opinion and react to it? Again, I think most of us believe we do, but when you look into it the reality tends to be different.

I want you to take a step back and put yourself in the familiar situation of going for a haircut; you don’t really know what you want, it seems expensive, and you keep awkwardly catching the stylist’s eye in the mirror.

The haircut finishes and you’re not really sure about it, the only thing you are sure about is you still don’t look like Patrick Swayze (my personal man-crush). The stylist then pops the mirror behind your head – “Is everything OK, sir?” – and as if on autopilot you answer, “Excellent, it looks great”. Now fast forward to the next morning and you are trying to style your hair with the £15 clay you bought at the till and, well, it just isn’t working for you. Suddenly you are blaming the stylist.

Is it really the stylist’s fault? He gave you the opportunity to say you didn’t like it, so why didn’t you? It’s simple really: you have manners. This leaves the stylist in a false reality – to him the customer is always right and it just so happens they always like the cut… How, then, can he improve?

Back to your business, how can you find out what your customers really think? How do you break through those deeply ingrained British manners and get people to tell you what they think?

You can’t, but there are two words that can: anonymous feedback.

For anonymous feedback get a third party to contact your client base, ask them agreed questions and report the answers to you.

You will be amazed at the insights you get on key things like staff behaviour and also smaller issues like no cups at the drinking fountain. Importantly, you now have the opportunity to resolve them.

Each call – known as a 360 – completes the sale by gathering all learnings from it and often it serves to turn customers who thought they’d left back around. On average when running a programme of 360s for a dental practice we convert 30-55 per cent into new appointments.

If you would like to know more about 360s please give me a call on 01326 66 00 22.