Excellent customer service and understanding your customer base are two pillars for achieving business growth in 2021. And effectively capitalising on both at the same time can be the ultimate goal. Capturing and applying feedback can turn you into a customer-centric business and help you make more informed business decisions.
To make the most of it, you need to conduct customer surveys frequently to identify room for improvement. Here’s how to set up your small business for success when it comes to customer feedback. And what to do with it…
What is customer feedback?
Customer feedback is the information you gather from your customers about their experience of your product or service. Collecting it can help inform your marketing strategy, product release plan and identify critical areas for improvement.
Why should you collect customer feedback?
Customer feedback can significantly improve the way you deal with your client base. Customer surveys have even been linked to increasing people’s awareness of a company’s products, influencing later behaviour and ultimately encouraging future purchases.
If you collect feedback effectively, you’ll be able to:
Test your new product with real audiences before launching. You can gather important insights into improvements you need to make or issues you need to address.
Check how the market perceives your new product or service post-launch.
Check if any new business changes have an impact on customer experience.
Address customer complaints adequately. A customer service feedback form diving deeper into customer pain points can help you handle negative experiences.
Monitor customer satisfaction. Especially if you’ve got a new customer service or customer experience department with that as its sole focus.
Ways to effectively capture customer feedback
Now you know why customer feedback is so important, it’s essential to grasp how to get customer feedback effectively. Think of what part of the customer experience you’re trying to improve and target that exact aspect of the customer journey. That way, you can focus on the area you think will have the most significant impact from gathering customer feedback.
Before you start, always come up with a plan of action. Identify your best channel to capture feedback, your survey’s goals, and what customers you’re going to target.
While restaurant owners might want to follow up on bookings with a post-visit survey form via email, beauty salon owners may find setting up informal client interviews more effective. Whatever your strategy, make sure it also includes post-survey actions: are you ready to invest in following up with the right improvements?
Once you’ve answered these questions, here are our top tips on collecting high-quality customer feedback, that you may find helpful:
You can improve customer satisfaction through targeted surveys – a great way to get high-quality answers from your clients. Just make sure you keep it tight and straight to the point. Assume that participants are short on time (and let’s be honest, with a short attention span, too), so you don’t want them to drift off halfway through.
Ask your key questions and keep them below 10. Word them in a straightforward yet specific way – don’t be vague as the answers you’ll get will be vague too. Open-ended questions are best to gather insight that hasn’t been influenced by your assumptions of what the customer may be thinking. The moment you offer multiple choice, you’re restricting the answers you’ll get by your own perceptions.
Once done, distribute your customer satisfaction survey according to the strategy you’ve already created. Whether that’s through your emails, SMS campaigns, or another avenue, just ensure that it’s the route where you get the most engagement. It might not even be an online route at all – if you find the best strategy is for customers to fill in an iPad survey as they pay their bill, then utilise that to your advantage.
Paper feedback surveys
For a more old-fashioned, pen-and-paper approach, you can make a simple paper questionnaire that you distribute in-store. However, as this is more manual, collecting the actual data from your survey will be more time-consuming, so make sure you factor that in your reward versus effort estimation.
Reach out directly
This could be done via your in-store customer touchpoints. From feedback cards that can be dropped in-store to face-to-face interactions on the spot, the direct method does depend on customer footfall.
In-store provides another opportunity for a short iPad survey by the till (bonus points if you speak with people directly as this will get you even more information).
In a restaurant? Empower your waiting staff to ask customers about their experience and whether they have any customer service feedback. Or add a small card with their bill that they can fill in before they leave. Again, the keyword here is small – keep it short and ask key questions only.
Following up on the direct outreach strategy, conducting customer interviews is a great way to get more in-depth feedback from the source. Start an open-ended dialogue and get more specific as you go. Ask follow-up questions after every piece of feedback that the participant offers. Lastly, don’t forget to be open and receptive to what they say to encourage them to speak up.
Review the information you’ve already got
You might already have some valuable customer insight at your disposal without even realising it. Review some of your recorded customer service calls, emails or even live chat transcripts for valuable nuggets of information.
You’ll start noticing patterns – is there a specific issue that keeps coming up? A pain point that’s easy to address, yet you’ve missed it before? Make the most of all the customer service management tools you’ve already got, and you might discover some quick wins in there.
Use competitions and prize draws
Your customers are busy. So what do you do when you’ve only got their attention for a few short seconds before they’re off again? You grab it with an incentive that’s worth their time. A great way to secure a product review is by entering participants into a prize draw.
Or offer them something in exchange for their honest review, such as a free monthly trial of your services, free shipping on their next order, or a gift card for their next meal. Whatever it is, make sure that it adds value to them rather than trying to cross-sell.
Another method that’s already at your disposal is capturing customer feedback from your own social media channels. You can start doing social media monitoring (if you aren’t already) as it could give you a pretty good idea of the general customer feeling.
You can also naturally engage with your audience as most social media channels have their own built-in polling tools – Instagram stories being one of the most popular choices.
As a bonus, utilising the story polls could also increase your Instagram engagement rates, and we all know how important those are for growing your business’s social media presence!
To manage all this insight from various platforms, you might want to get a customer feedback system. This could be a software product or application with features like social media listening, customer experience analytics, and multi-platform feedback systems.
Request ‘abandoned cart’ feedback
If you’ve got a store with an online shop, you can gather some fresh insight by targeting customers there. Install a website popup that asks customers who have abandoned their cart why they didn’t proceed with their purchase. Streamline this by making the popup box a simple multiple-choice list. Create an ‘abandoned cart’ email journey, targeting customers who haven’t completed their purchase with a short survey straight into their inbox. Understanding why a shopper would abandon their purchase could help you address online and in-store inventory or even price issues.
Encourage customers to give you their opinions by including post-purchase feedback within your business cycle. A quick way to do this is by setting up an automated email as part of your email journey that’s sent a few days (or weeks) after receiving the goods or service. If customers had to ask for any support, this could be a great time to send out a customer service survey too.
You can ask them to rate the quality of the product they received or include a short customer satisfaction survey about your services so far. Have you got an app? Ask them, there by adding a little feedback prompt.
Adopt Net Promoter Score (NPS)
Using a scale of 1-10 to determine how likely customers are to recommend your business, NPS could be a very efficient way to capture customer feedback. People who rate you 0 - 6 are known as ‘Detractors,’ those who rate you seven or eight are known as ‘Passives,’ and the ones who give you a nine or ten – as ‘Promoters.’ The survey only uses one question so you can count on large numbers of customers getting involved. Plus, its simplicity makes it easily understood by everyone across your business.
Monitor Google My Business
If you’ve already set up Google My Business, then make the most of it by regularly monitoring customer feedback on there. Similar to social media monitoring, this could give you a generally good idea of current customer sentiment.
Search for your business
In other words, Google yourself. Name searching your business everywhere from Google and Bing to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram might take you to some interesting places…including forums, public chats and groups you might not have known existed. Check those for genuine feedback and pain points exchanged between your customers – and don’t forget to address them in your updated business strategy.
How to use customer feedback to improve your customer experience
Now you’ve conducted all these customer service surveys, it’s time to put them to use. Don’t know where to start? Here are some ways you can transform customer feedback into proactive business change.
Categorise the feedback into core areas of improvement
Start with the main pain points that come up the most and prioritise your work from there. A key issue with your product has been identified? Customer service problems have been raised? By implementing your customers’ ideas, you show them that your business cares.
Scope your work into a monthly roadmap
If you’ve ended up with large amounts of customer feedback, then create a calendar that outlines your plan of action. Take it a month at a time for each key area of improvement and see how that workload works for you.
Identify any ‘quick wins’
Some small things have cropped up from your customer satisfaction surveys? Action them straight away and move on to the big stuff. What makes a small amount of your time or resource could considerably impact a customer’s experience.
Include your whole team in the feedback process
After categorising all that new insight, why not involve each member of your business in addressing it? Not only could you motivate them, but you can also get to see if everyone understands the feedback provided. Different team members might already know how to act on it or have some solutions to offer.
Get back to customers
Once you’ve actioned their feedback, go back to customers and ask them for feedback again. This could increase customer trust as you could make them feel valued.
Review the quality of feedback
Lastly, don’t forget to do a quality check of your survey results. Is there anything missing? Are the answers not detailed enough, or maybe they didn’t provide the helpful insight you were hoping for? Regroup, reevaluate and address it better in your strategy next time.
You could gain a lot from customer feedback. As long as you listen to it and act on it effectively, you should be able to build a genuinely customer-centric business. Just make sure you target a clear, pressing goal you’ve got and then create your survey around it. Start small and then build up a qualitative approach that will give you some real-life insight into your company’s offers.
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