Wednesday January 9, 2013

Are You Getting Enough Feedback from your Customers?

Customer Feedback

It sounds simple enough: feedback from your customers helps you to improve your customer service, your marketing, and your business in general. Your customers can give you a wealth of valuable information, from how they found you to how they liked you, and the more information you can get from them, the better.

So every business must be out there gathering feedback as you read this, right? Not necessarily. In fact, a 2012 study showed that more than half of businesses ignore their customers’ feedback on social media completely – and that’s feedback that didn’t even need to be gathered.

There are several explanations for why a business might be hesitant to ask for or monitor feedback – from being afraid of the answers to being afraid of the costs. None of these are good reasons, and here’s why.

Getting Customer Feedback Doesn’t Need to be Expensive

You don’t need to launch an elaborate, yearlong data collecting mission to get useful customer feedback. Take advantage of the many free and inexpensive ways to get your customers’ thoughts:

  • Send out online surveys via email and social media
  • Include a brief voluntary survey and/or feedback form on your website and in your store
  • Monitor customer feedback on platforms like Yelp and Angie’s List
  • Train frontline employees to ask targeted questions of customers
  • Talk to customers who call or visit your business, and offer to take a few of them out to lunch
  • Make it easy for customers to contact you

You're not Going to Scare Away Customers

Whenever you’re interfacing with your customer, you have a chance to get their feedback. If they’re busy, they’ll decline to answer your questions, but you’re not going to lose customers by asking polite questions aimed at improving their experience.

Keep in mind: since you or your frontline employees are going to ask your customer for feedback, you might as well figure out ahead of time what you really want to learn from them. While asking questions like “How was everything today?” are fine, your customers aren’t likely to offer you nuanced feedback in response to questions like these.

A Lack of Complaint is not Necessarily an Endorsement

If you’ve ever seen an episode of Restaurant: Impossible (yes it’s over the top, and no I can’t confirm whether any of it is real), you know the show’s pattern: the restaurant owners have no idea why business stinks until the show’s host talks to the diners, who quickly admit that the food wasn’t so delicious and that they aren’t likely to ever come back. Hearing criticism like this hurts, but not hearing it is even more painful in the long run.

It’s tempting to assume that if your customers aren’t complaining, everything must be fine. The truth is that if your customers are unhappy with you, they’re probably going to take their business elsewhere before they take it upon themselves to have a potentially unpleasant conversation and explain to you what the problems were.

If you are polite and ask specific questions about what was good, what was bad, and how you might improve, they’ll be much more likely to provide you with honest criticism – and possibly give you the chance to make those improvements next time.

It’s not difficult to see why customer feedback is worth taking seriously: by getting the feedback, sharing it with your employees and making continual improvements, you’re growing your number of happy customers.

What type of feedback do you solicit from your customers, and what changes have you made because of it?

Charlie Nadler
Simple Machines Marketing

Written by Charlie Nadler | Tags: customer reviews

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