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How to Gather Customer Feedback & Grow Your Business

Using customer feedback to leverage your small business.

Getting customer feedback shouldn't intimidate you. If you know how to do it right, it's an excellent opportunity to show you not only hear your customers, but you're listening to them. Here's how customer feedback can help you grow your business, and what to do to get them talking.

Why You Need Feedback from Customers

Fifty years ago, business was simple – everything was handled in-person, via phone, or by snail mail. But alas, the internet was born and everything changed. Now, you have the opportunity to interact with customers 24/7. More importantly, they have the same opportunity to interact with you. They don't have to wait for their letter to arrive or someone to return their call. And they aren't just talking to you. We're constantly connected to email and social media with smartphones, tablets, and laptops.

These days, customer service is no longer a single, one-and-done interaction, it's an experience. A recent McKinsey and Company survey shows that by improving the customer journey, companies can potentially improve overall customer satisfaction by 20%, increase revenue 15%, and lower service costs by up to 20%. Companies that have caught on are already enjoying exciting growth. Dollar Shave Club, for example, has grown to more than 1.5 million subscribers by leveraging data from its Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) to better understand and engage customers.

Ways to Ask Customers for Feedback

Face-to-Face Interaction

Whether you have a brick and mortar business or are online only, there are opportunities to ask for feedback in your day-to-day customer interactions. Let's say a customer comes in to your store with a return (learn how to handle product returns). Instead of processing the return and simply sending the former customer on their way, ask what would make the product a better solution for them, or discuss alternatives. Talking to dissatisfied customers can sometimes be more enlightening than only talking to happy ones.

Of course, you can and should follow up with happy customers, too. If you've been in business long enough to have regulars, ask them what keeps them coming back. You want to know what it is about your business that makes them choose you above everyone else. Take note of what they say, and brainstorm ways to serve them even better!

Surveys

Surveys allow you to reach multiple customers with the click of a button. Tools like Survey Monkey and Quaraloo make this easy.

You can create surveys to address specific products or overall business questions. Customise them to fit your needs, from short to long, multiple choice to free-response, and more. Expand its reach by posting the survey on social media channels for more exposure. Or, place the survey on certain pages of your website.

Online Reviews

  1. Monitor any review sites your business is listed on and respond to complaints quickly. Shoot for a response within 24 hours, if possible. If you have an employee monitoring these sites, create a script which directs the customer to an email or phone number to call and voice their concern.
  2. Search Twitter and Facebook for mentions of your business. It's an easy way to find complaints people make without tagging your business page. The customer will be pleasantly surprised to see you've addressed their complaint without their having to make the effort of going to your page. It's possible you may even win them back once you've successfully resolved their issue.
  3. Follow up with customers a few days after an issue has been resolved to make sure they're satisfied.

Taking Action on the Data

Now that you've collected feedback, go through and identify trends. What are people suggesting? Are there multiple people complaining about a certain feature, service, or store? Analyse what needs to change going forwards. Have a company meeting to get your team's input on your ideas, and to hear out some of theirs. Finally, let customers know when you’ve made an improvement to your products or services. And don't forget to thank them for their valuable feedback!




Gathering customer feedback doesn't have to involve robo-calls and walking door-to-door. Anyone can get it once you know how to ask! For more business tips, check out our article centre. You can also find out ways to grow your business using your packaging with our article: Using Your Packaging to Create Return Customers.


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