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Discovering What Your Customers Really Think About You

Type:

Studio Owner Article

Category:

Improve Staff and Customer Communication

This past summer during one of my business seminars at the Dance Teacher Web Live Conference on customer satisfaction we had an open discussion about how did the studio owners in my class go about receiving feedback from their customers. Many of the teachers there expressed their concerns about soliciting feedback because they were worried that it could open a can of worms, or even worse that they would hear something horrible about their business.

That got me thinking!

Why is it that most studio owners are afraid of what their parents may say or think? We do so much for their kids, not only teaching them to dance but by giving them life lessons and skills they won't get anywhere else. Especially at home!

I know one studio owner who is part of our VIP consulting program who has told me in the past that the parents at her studio are harsh, abrasive and in general not very friendly. I told her what I am going to tell you, first of all try to talk to them and find out what the problems are that cause them to react in this way. If after doing your best to find amicable solutions they are still treating you in the same way, Get new customers: for real!

Yes, your customers are paying you. Yes, you appreciate that and they deserve a good customer experience, wonderful classes and excellent value for their patronage. What they don't deserve is the right to bully, abuse and misuse you or your staff! Having an open door policy with your customers is a BIG key to your growth as a studio. However, boundaries need to be set and adhered to. In other words you should not be available 24/7 for their complaints. Set times when you will return calls and have appointments for a sit down. And make sure you and your staff adhere to those times, no exception!

Your studio environment is set by you!

If you don't like where your studio atmosphere is heading remember, you are in control. Now is the time to take the reins and lead! Although we would all like to have everyone in our communities who have children come to our studios, the reality is some people are just not the right fit. If you find that you have a few bad apples it may be time to show them the door.

If I have any regrets over the past 29 years of owning our studio it is that we have in the past kept holding on to bad customers, bad staff and bad faculty for too long. You know when something is not right. When you are dealing with a problem person you need to face it, try to fix it and then if it is lost cause then do everyone a favor, especially you, and gracefully tell them it is time to move on.

Try this!

To find out what your customers think about you do a survey. There are great online tools like Survey Monkey that allow you to do a survey digitally. You can send out an email encouraging your customers to help you to be the best studio in town by giving you some honest and if they prefer, anonymous feedback.

I know the anonymous part is not fun but it is a way to see behind what some are thinking, even the ones who don't like you or what you are doing. We always have an incentive so that if they do put their name under their comments and let us use some of their positive feedback in our testimonials they will be added to a list that will entitle one person to win a free class for the year! This has definitely worked well for us.

The good news is that you will also discover what they really love about you and your business. When we do these surveys there are always a few eye openers of things that we may have overlooked. You will also find out what your best customers like and you can find ways to use that in your marketing material.

Get your front desk staff in listening mode!

Whether you have one person or several people who man the front desk they always need to be in listening mode. Sometimes customers just want to vent. That's is fine, tell your staff to let them get it out. Some complaints are valid. If notes are taken you can deal with it at the appropriate time.

Also if someone is raving about your studio or your faculty member have an index card file behind the desk and the person working the desk can ask the customer if they would be willing to give you a testimonial.

During your recital you may even consider doing a few video testimonials with your best customers. Since you most likely will have someone taking a video for your show they could do a few right after the show or perhaps during your dress rehearsal. Just have a question ready that you give them in advance so that they are prepared with a great answer. Something like: What do you love most about this dance school? Or, why did you choose this dance school over the others in the area? Or, what makes this dance school the right choice for you? Customers giving you rave reviews is the best advertising you can get! You can say your studio is this and that but it is so much better when other people, like your customers say it about you!

Finding out what your customers think about you does not have to be scary after all. Yes there may be some unpleasant things that are said about your business or about you but try not to take them too personally, even if they are personal attacks. Most people who do that are unhappy people just taking it out on anyone who comes their way. The more you know about your customers the better you can serve them!

Author

Steve Sirico

Steve Sirico

Originally from Norwalk, Ct, Steve excelled in track and football. He attended the University of Tennessee at Martin on a sports scholarship. Deciding to switch and make his career in the world of dance, he studied initially with Mikki Williams and then in New York with Charles Kelley and Frank Hatchett. He has appeared in a number of theatre productions such as Damn Yankees, Guys and Dolls and Mame in New York and around the country and in industrials and television shows. He was contracted to appear as the lead dancer in the Valerie Peters Special a television show filmed in Tampa, Florida. After meeting Angela DValda during the filming they formed the Adagio act of DValda & Sirico appearing in theatres, clubs and on television shows such as David Letterman, Star Search and the Jerry Lewis Telethon. In 1982 they were contracted to Europe and appeared in a variety of shows in Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland and Italy before going to London, England where they appeared as Guest Artists for Wayne Sleep (formerly of the Royal Ballet) in his show Dash at the Dominium Theatre. Steve is Co-Director of the very successful D'Valda and Sirico Dance and Music Center in Fairfield, CT for the past thirty years. His students have gone on to very successful careers in dance, music and theater. Author of his Jazz Dance syllabus and co-author of a Partner syllabus both of which are used for teacher training by Dance Educators of America, He has also co-authored two books one for dance teachers and one for studio owners in the "It's Your Turn" Book series. Steve is co-founder of Dance Teacher Web the number one online resource for dance teachers and studio owners worldwide. He is available for master classes, private business consulting and teacher training development

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