Customer reviews can influence daily business strategies. Here are 5 ways to gather and use customer feedback.
So, what do your customers really think about your product or service? Today, companies have a host of customer feedback methods at their disposal. And obtaining honest, timely customer insights is critical to fostering improved relationships and bolstering your bottom line.
This guide covers everything you need to know about how to get customer feedback, why it’s important and what to do with it once you have it.
Why Customer Service Feedback Matters
The goal of any company is to have customers return again and again—and, ideally, share their positive experiences with others. That’s the key reason most businesses focus on customer service.
Getting feedback can benefit you in multiple other ways, too, by allowing you to:
- Improve your product or service: The best customer service feedback comes from everyday users who can offer ideas that strengthen your brand. Customer feedback might reveal that your app isn’t as intuitive as you think or that extending your hours would bring in more business during the weekdays. You also might find an invisible barrier you weren’t aware of; for example, that customers find your salespeople overly chatty.
- Show customers you value them: Customers who share their opinion want to be really heard. While, ideally, you can solve their problem, at the least they want you to empathize with them and listen to their issue or suggestion. Take customer feedback as an opportunity to validate that they are important to your business.
- Encourage them to share their experience: Collecting customer reviews can have a significant impact on retaining current customers and gaining new ones, especially for small businesses. That’s because consumers are increasingly suspicious of advertisements or sponsored content, and therefore rely more on recommendations from their social circle, notes Luca Cian, an assistant professor of business administration at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.
Customer Feedback Methods: Five Ways to Find Out What’s On Their Minds
There are more avenues than ever to obtain customer feedback. With smartphones at the ready, customers can easily share their opinion in a variety of digital venues, but that’s not the only strategy you should use.
Here are five potential customer feedback methods to gather insight:
1. Social Media
Nearly 90% of customers expect you to respond to their social media post within 24 hours. While you could obsessively monitor your feeds, you’ll probably prefer a tool that does it for you, like Hootsuite or even a simple Google Alert.
2. Website Analytics
This can be a powerful way to get an inside look at how customers are navigating your site. Do you see that shoppers abandon a sale after they add something to the cart? Maybe your ordering process is challenging or the shipping fees are too high. Or their click behavior might indicate you need to reorganize your site so they find the information they want faster.
To get the best feedback, keep the survey short and aligned to a specific issue. For example, if your value proposition relates to fast service, focus the questions on how quickly customers had their needs met and if the experience fulfilled their expectations.
4. Online Reviews
Make it easy for customers to find a review site that is relevant to your category. While there are general sites like Yelp, hospitality-focused companies might refer customers to Travelocity, and professional services firms might prefer a review on the Better Business Bureau site. Provide links on your website and in your email communications to direct them to a specific platform.
5. Focus Groups
Since this customer feedback method entails a bigger time commitment, reserve it for times that you need to do a deep dive into a strategic business decision—such as deciding to expand or introduce a new product. Incentivize participation with a gift or offer customers advance access to the product or service once it rolls out.
What to Do With Customer Service Feedback
So, the people have spoken… have you listened? If someone takes the time to reach out through one of your customer feedback methods, they’ve done you a valuable service, which you shouldn’t disregard.
Here are some simple ways to use the feedback you’ve received.
Respond to the Customer
As mentioned above, it’s vital to acknowledge their feedback, even if it’s just to thank them for taking the time to comment. Fix their problem if you can or let them know you’ll keep them updated on progress.
Aggregate Feedback and Share Ideas, Complaints, and Kudos with Your Team
Data shouldn’t be concentrated at the top. It’s important that your team members know areas where they can improve, as well as what customers appreciate about their interaction by collecting customer reviews and sharing them. Remember that positive feedback can be highly motivating so affirm where employees are excelling.
You also can ask front-line employees to share their reactions to the feedback and suggest potential changes that would solve a bottleneck that’s surfaced. It gives them a sense of ownership and can offer valuable new perspectives.
Create a Simple Summary of Survey Results to Distribute
Depending on the nature of your business, customers might be wondering how their survey answers compared with others. For example, if you run a gym, a member might be interested in what classes fellow attendees had suggested.
Use Customer Feedback in Your Marketing
Collect customer reviews and post them on your website or repurpose them on your own social media. You can even tag the customer or company (with their permission, of course) to further validate their input and potentially extend the reach of their testimonial. Publicly thanking them for their business can further foster their loyalty.
Take It in Stride
Finally, realize that some of the feedback might not be exactly what you want to hear. One regrettable byproduct of soliciting customer feedback is hearing negative input—some of which might be downright unfair and inflammatory. If the negative review is on a public forum, fortunately, there are some best practices to capably handle it. And remember: you’re not alone. Every business owner has felt the sting of a negative review. But the gems you stand to gain from customer feedback methods make collecting customer reviews worthwhile.