A recent BusinessWeek article describes India's HCL Technologies unique management ratings program. In essence, each manager is ranked in several areas by those that report to them. Lot's of companies do these "360" types of reviews, but what is different about HCL is that they publish the results on their intranet for the employees to see.
CEO Vineet Nayar was rated 3.6 out of 5 for how well he keeps projects running on schedule by 81 managers that rated him, and everybody at HCL knows it.
According to Nayar "In our day and age, it's the employee who sucks up to the boss. We are trying, as much as possible, to get the manager to suck up to the employee."
In addition they have an online complaint system where anyone can voice concern over a particular issue ranging from the air conditioning to bonuses. Each of these concerns becomes a "ticket". What is unique is that these tickets can be "cleared" only by the employees, not management.
Imagine applying that to your small business. Your company is the "manager" and your customers are the "employees". What if companies posted online for all customers to see how they are ranked. What if noted problems remained listed until the company deals with them and the customer removes them.
Employee retention rates have increased at HCL. How would you like to have your customer retention rates increased? Have you asked your customers to rate you and your business? They are the only ones that know how they feel about your business.
Reicheld discovered the customer question that seems to track with the future growth of a business "Would you recommend us to your friends and colleagues?" Our service, Promoterz, helps you ask them that question with the addition of "Please provide specific comments to help us understand the rating you have assigned". You will know how your customers feel and have actionable data you can use to improve.
Perhaps small businesses should include Nayar's words in their business plan "We will try, as much as possible, to get the company to suck up to the customer!"