Whether you’re just starting your own boutique or home-based business, or you’ve run one for some time, you need reliable customer feedback to improve it. Rather than waiting for feedback to come to you, use these seven strategies to obtain the feedback you need to build your business. Improvement can draw more customers and help you retain existing clients. The latter is more important than you realize.
According to Harvard Business Review, it costs five to 25 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. You need reliable customer feedback to improve your products and services. As you’re about to see, the easiest way to get it is to ask; implement it to improve.
Encourage your clients and customers to leave online reviews for your business. You can note your social media or Yelp profile on the back of your business card. When customers purchase something from you, encourage them to leave a review of their experience afterwards. This gets you free public relations online since it builds your rating on the site and lets potential customers know what it’s like to do business with you. Place links to your social media and major review sites on your website. Using a Google review link will make it easier for customers to leave a review, increasing the number of reviews you receive.
Conduct a survey. You can place a paper survey at checkout, or you can use an e-mail or online survey or both. Ask your clients what they think and what they need.
Determine the goal for your survey. Only ask questions that address the goal. Use open-ended and multiple-choice questions that net you the details of “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” “why” and “how.” Also, ask only one-part questions. That means avoid asking if a site is “fast and reliable” or if someone “eats healthy and exercises.” The items on either side of the “and” should comprise separate questions. Also, use timeframes in the questions, such as, “How many times in the seven days did you exercise?”
Ways to Leave Feedback
Place a feedback box in your waiting room or at your point-of-sale registers. Provide a postcard survey or index cards for customers to share their thoughts. At the end of each work week, go through the box and learn from your customer’s suggestions and experiences in your establishment. For a software or app, offer a survey to customers within the software itself, too. These surveys might include fields for feature requests, bugs, overall user experience, price and quality of customer support.
Customer Support Conversations
Online businesses and firms using online support mechanisms have an advantage. You can access their customer support conversations on a regular basis to determine what issues customers regularly experience and how the support personnel have applied their business procedures to solve the problem.
Comments to your social media and posts about your company provide you with invaluable customer feedback data. This combination of publicity and feedback helps you attract more customers, so long as the comments remain mostly positive and the social media interns’ or managers’ responses quickly solve the problem.
Your customers won’t always go out of their way to tell you their needs or their problems with your business. When they do though, listen and change. By addressing current customer needs, you retain those customers. Customer retention costs much less than attracting new customers.
Hold a focus group or series of focus groups. You can do this by advertising it to your regular in-store customers or by using an online service that conducts the focus group for you. The focus group occurs as a live event or via video feed so you can record body language and vocal tone, as well as the comments. You can also use customer contact apps like Intercom to hold focus groups. Many survey websites like Survey Monkey offer online focus groups. These websites can also help you organize the focus group and provide tutorials on how to develop questions and how to conduct follow up.
Mystery shopping provides unique benefits. Mystery shoppers are real people who have received professional training in observing and documenting the retail and customer service experience. The mystery shopper solves a huge problem that many retail outlets have. Many customers do not provide feedback whether the experience was good or bad. Only four percent of the typical business’ customers with a complaint make one. The larger problem is that while they won’t tell you, they will tell colleagues, family and friends.
Using mystery shoppers guarantees you feedback that answers specific questions, provides detailed answers and targets specific times of day and staff. Mystery shoppers also have acting skills. You provide a scenario for them to follow and they choose the services you direct them to use, order what you designate, and shop when you tell them to do so. This lets you test the response of your staff at a specific time of day whether it’s the busiest or the quietest. The shopper times the staff response. This method gets used most often by mid-sized and large companies that have multiple locations. They base their scenario and roles on a set of cumulative data from actual customers to create personas.
In business as in life, you are never done making things better. Business improvement and self-improvement both require a continual feedback loop. You need to add to and adjust your products or services and your overall business organization. Regardless of which methods you choose to obtain your customer feedback, you’ll need to organize it and apply it to make the most of it. Divide it into two main categories, positive and negative. Within that, divide it into subcategories of specific products or features. Once it’s organized, use and apply the data. Once you know what people love and hate about your product or service, go back to the drawing board and make it better.
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