Strategic Relations Journal

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Brought to you by Justin Hitt, Strategic Relations Consultant. Thank you for reading.

Issue #39 -- July 1, 2002

A weekly journal about building stronger relationships in business. Subscription information is available at the end of this newsletter. Thank you for reading.

Dear Friend:

How are your customer relations this week? I hope it's getting better. This week we are going to talk about asking for feedback so you can find out exactly what you can do to improve it. It could be as simple as asking.

I have been talking about strategic relations as I see it for a number of years now, I am so happy now to see more mainstream educational organizations actually providing training. Arizona State University College of Business (in collaboration with the Center for Services Leadership) is holding a business to business Services Forum July 24-26 2002 in Philadelphia, PA. If you are interested in more information, please drop me an email.

Over the next couple of months, you will begin to see more on strategic relations and the importance of data in better servicing your customers and increasing your profits. Send your question; I will be happy to answer them.


Justin Hitt
Strategic Relations Consultant

Methods for Improving Customer Relations by Soliciting Feedback

One day I asked my customers how I was doing and it was amazing what they had to say. Feedback is probably the most valuable resource any business could have, yet very few utilize. In this article, you will learn three ways to check up on yourself, who to ask for feedback, and methods to getting specific feedback useful for your business.

Three Ways to Check Up On Yourself

Your business interacts with so many people in the course of a day, would you like to know how ?well? you interact. Each of those people holds secrets about your business that can improve your sales, reduce your costs, and overall make your business more profitable. The three places you can check up on yourself are through your vendors, your customers, and through your own employees.

Your vendors know how you compare in relations to your competitors, whether you are getting the best prices, and how important you are to their organization. A vendor can quickly compare you against your competitors in order volume and other indicators of stabilities. They know how valuable you are by what prices they give you, ask if you are getting the best prices for the products you are purchasing. You will find the more valuable they perceive your organizations the better your prices will be which could provide savings you can pass along to your customers.

The next group that can tell you about how well you are doing in business is your customers. They tell you in three ways including how often they buy, how long they stay with your company, and if they refer people to do business with you. If you have a high turn over rate among customers you will want to find out what is going on, perhaps it is the industry but most likely, it is your business. Referrals can be another indicator of customer relationship quality, are your customers referring others to do business with you?

Maybe one of the best ways to check up on yourself is to play buying games with your own people. Your employees know a lot about your company and can demonstrate those things your customers will not tell you. Purchase your own products, send them back for support, and evaluate the entire experience. Do not look for people to blame, look for people to reward and suggestions to improve the system overall.

Periodically check up on yourself by finding out what other people think about your organization and even testing your system against your own expectations. Constantly asking for feedback can improve your company?s customer relations for little or no cost.

Who to Ask For Feedback

When you ask for feedback, you pretty much ask the same people who you would to check up on yourself. Ask your vendors, customers, and employee?s specific questions to develop the feedback you need to improve your business. Many companies do not get past asking customers for feedback, but that is only one-third of the available sources of this valuable information.

Ask your vendors and partners how you compare with your competitors, many times they will have suggestions from the best practices of their other customers. Find out what their perceptions are of your business. Ask for frank and honest feedback. Then measure components of your supply channels against your own and customer expectations.

You always want to ask your customers for feedback because they ultimately pay the bills. Ask your customers about their expectations in quality and timing, and then compare this against your actual performance. Help your customers elaborate on their time, price, and value expectations. These elements should relate to specific quality measures and help in improving your product.

Finally, make sure you ask your employees for feedback because they know things that can improve their work environment. Ask frequently about expectations with growth, promotions, and career desires as these items effect performance. Find out how friendly your business environment is for each individual and compare that against statistics for your industry. Happy employees make happy customers.

For full and complete feedback you have to ask each of the people outlined here. Your vendors, customers, and employees can give you more feedback than you will ever be able to implement. Listen to what they have to say, but ask the questions necessary to get specific information of value to your organization.

How to Ask For and Get Specific Feedback Useful To Your Business

Soliciting feedback must be well rounded if you wish to improve customer relations. Now that you know whom you should ask for feedback, you want to ask specific questions, practice listening techniques, and really be interested about the powerful feedback you can now receive.

When you ask specific questions you help the person being asked get right to the information useful to your organization. Ask questions grouped around who-what, when-where, and why-how because properly crafted will extract useful information for your company. This grouping method is based on question groups developed in sales but can be easily applied here.

Ask your open-ended questions in a positive manner to promote discussion. Then listen carefully to every word they say (and do not say), just lean forward and do not say a word. After you have heard what they have said, repeat back summaries of the facts they shared and try to confirm your understanding. Exchange other questions with the individual to clarify specifically what would improve their experience with you.

When someone provides you feedback, you should be excited that these customers are sharing this information with you. Most feedback is valuable and you should thank them, but most importantly, it is free information meant to improve your company. Be thankful and be sure to follow up with them about anything you have implemented. Even consider a rewards program for feedback; it could bring your business opportunities you are currently missing.

Justin Hitt is a strategic relations consultant, author, and speaker. Now available on, ?101 Strategies for more Profitable Customers? tips booklet. For more information visit

© 2002 JWH Consolidated LLC dba Center for Strategic Relations, All rights reserved.

Questions & Answers

Any questions on implementing strategic relations in your business? Send your questions by email to and I?ll answer them here in this newsletter. Plus you'll receive valuable consulting that can start earning more money for your business without paying a single hour of consulting fees! Give it a try, It's worth it!


If you're interested in training materials and other implementation tools for these strategies in your business, please write to free-catalogat with ?free catalog? in the subject. Please include your name address and phone number.

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© 2002 JWH Consolidated LLC dba Center for Strategic Relations, All rights reserved. Rights granted to forward, via electronic medium, this document in whole as long as the subscription and copyright portions remain intact. Dept HIP,PO Box 3123, Martinsville, VA 24115.

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