Melissa Piper NelsonDo you remember when your parents asked you, or when you asked your children, “What did you learn today?” The question becomes a way to connect with a person as well as gain information. And, the question has relevance in the business world as well as in our personal lives, too. So, how often do you ask your employees, “What did you learn today?” Connection and informational feedback are two valuable asset tools to help you determine where your business is at presently and to strategize for the future.

Connecting both with employees and customers helps optimize productivity and the overall customer experience. Employee feedback offers clues to places where your operation is doing well and where changes may be required. Be specific, however, in how you structure follow-up questions so employees understand what information you are seeking. What did they learn from their tasting room shift today? Did customers ask for specific information on varieties you sell, or where questions more general in nature? Was the customer interested in how to use your product or service, or interested in chatting about your business?

Unless structured specifically and giving the background for why you are asking, employees may feel less inclined to offer feedback as it seems intrusive, or that you are seeking performance-based information. Given the right circumstances, however, the more specific the feedback they can offer, the better decisions you can make to assist them, as well as sparking quality customer service.

It is one thing to get the information from both employees and customers, but without acting on it, you limit your options for the future. With good feedback information, you can strategize for what is working and what specific changes you need now and for future planning. Are customers fully informed about your products? Do you need to revamp advertising or promotion goals to increase traffic? Are employees and customers satisfied with their surroundings and opportunities?

Whether you do this through informal chats or as more formal reviews, people appreciate your willingness to hear their thoughts and accept their suggestions. You have probably seen this demonstrated when you and your employees engage in conversation with customers. This is one of the favorable aspects of direct marketing as you can build one-to-one relationships with customers. And, what your employees learn in these conversational encounters, can steer your business to better successes by gleaning information and developing goals to meet the needs expressed.

So asking the question, “What did you learn today?” has significant meaning when it comes to strategizing for the best return on your investment. If you are always willing to make adjustments, or build on successes, you are more likely to optimize the customer experience and reap the benefits.

Take some time to help your employees understand the importance of their feedback to the overall operation of the business. They do not have to always ask probing questions, but rather understand and be able to translate to you what they are hearing and understanding from direct connection with guests. As an owner or manager, you are building the connection both with your employees and your customers to reach the goals you have set for success.

“What have you learned today?” should be more than an off-hand conversation. Used correctly, it can be a vital tool in understanding the needs of both your employees and your customers.

The above information is for educational purposes only and should not be substituted for professional business or legal counseling.