Want your business to stand out from the competition? Gain customer feedback. It’s the most reliable way to improve the customer experience. And great customer experience is key to differentiating your business, increasing customer loyalty, and promoting brand advocacy. A CEI Survey even found that 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience.
Gaining customer feedback, and ultimately improving the customer experience is also on every business’s radar. Recent research shows that 81% of businesses plan to focus on gaining more customer insights this year. No one knows what your customers want more than your customers themselves.
So how do you gain this valuable customer feedback? Follow these five key steps:
Step 1: Know what you want to achieve
What exactly do you want to know about your customers’ experience? Do you want to know about their interactions with your staff, product quality, pricing, variety of products or services you offer, hours of operation? The list can get pretty long, right? Pick no more than 1-2 categories, such as staff interaction and product-related questions, to dive into and stick to those.
A ton of questions in one fell swoop will overwhelm customers and their answers will lack the depth you’re looking for. Eliminate anything that’s ‘nice to know’ and only ask what you need to know to make improvements.
Step 2: Gather actionable feedback
Feedback is worthless if you’re not sure what to do with it. For example, knowing your customer satisfaction rating is an average 8 out of 10 doesn’t tell you exactly what your customers want you to improve. Crafting your questions correctly is critical to receiving the right information that’s useful to your business.
To gather and gain actionable feedback, always include follow up questions like, “What could we do to improve?,” or “What did you like most about your experience?” You can get even more specific by asking, “On a scale of 1-5, was our staff friendly or welcoming?,” or “How would you like to hear from us regarding special promotions or events?”
Step 3: Gather as much feedback as possible, and make the process easy
There are countless ways to collect customer feedback. Make the process as easy as possible, and choose any/all of the following options that’ll give your feedback efforts the most exposure.
- Online surveys (sent via email, website, blog, link on receipt) – Use online tools like SurveyMonkey, GetFeedback, or even Google Forms and email surveys to your current customer base. Include survey links on your website or blog (pop up plugins can help with this as well). And include a link to your survey on receipts if possible.
- Social media – Use Facebook’s poll tool: Facebook Questions, tweet questions to the masses on Twitter, reach out via LinkedIn Groups, create visually appealing images advocating your survey and pin ’em on Pinterest or post them on Instagram – Be sure to include a link.
- Review sites (Yelp, Google, Angie’s List, etc.) – Gather information from reviews people have already written on various review sites. Reply to various responses, positive and negative to gather more info. They’ll be surprised and happy to know you care about their experience.
- In-person interviews or over-the-phone – Ask questions at the register, or as a customer is leaving the business. If you have people calling in to make appointments or order food/products, ask if you can tack on a couple of questions when wrapping up the phone call. Send an email or text message as well asking customers for in-person or over-the-phone interviews in exchange for a discount.
- In-store feedback/comment cards – We highly recommend using feedback formats like online surveys, as printed comment cards have several set-backs, however, if you still choose to take this route: place these on tables, counters, near the register, front entrance, or pass them out with the check. Allow customers to remain anonymous by placing the comment card in a box, rather than handing it directly to an employee.
Remember, feedback will help your business improve, and asking for it shows your customers you care. Aim to gather feedback from at least 20% of your current customer base, or 20% of your intended audience. Get as many responses as possible from new and loyal customers alike.
Step 4: Give incentive
Feedback efforts are enhanced by incentives. If you plan on taking more than 5 minutes of your customers’ time, give your customers a reward; the sweeter the reward, the better. Set your budget and try one of these ideas:
- 10 lucky customers get a $5-$10 coupon
- For every response, we’ll donate $1 to charity
- X randomly selected winners get a $50 gift card
- The first 20 respondents get a 50% discount on their next order
Step 5: Define next steps
Once all your responses have rolled in, it’s time for the most important step: make changes based on your feedback. You’ll build trust and foster loyalty by reciprocating your customer feedback with real improvements. Take the most popular requests from your responses and apply them to your business. Share the research with your employees and let your customers know you heard them and are making their experience your priority.
By implementing these five key steps to gaining feedback, and taking action, your customer experience, product, or business will be nothing less than top-notch. We recently made improvements to our own product and tools based on customer feedback, and the response has been glowingly positive –Feedback is pretty powerful! Have you made changes to your own business, customer service, or product based on customer feedback? Let us know about it!