3 Ways to Gather and Assess Customer Feedback
Customer feedback is key for any small business looking to grow. In addition to rating your business, feedback can help you tailor your products and services to customer needs and market trends. Likewise, customer feedback provides insights on how you can take your business to the next level — whether you’re introducing a new product line or improving overall operations. Plus, seeking this feedback is the first rule of customer service; it shows that you’re listening and that you care.
With that in mind, here are three useful ways to collect and assess customer feedback.
1. Conduct Customer Surveys
A survey is one of the most recognized ways to gather customer feedback — although small businesses are notably less likely to use customer surveys than larger firms. According to a study by Survey Monkey, 62% of small-business owners never conduct customer surveys of any kind. The study also found that valuable feedback can translate into business confidence. In fact, companies who regularly survey their customers have a more optimistic business and revenue outlook than those who don’t.
Conducting surveys is now easier than ever. Simple online survey tools like Survey Monkey, Qualtrics and Survey Gizmo, as well as point-of-sale systems, such as Square and Lightspeed, are cost-effective ways to mine data from your customers.
Before getting started, consider your business goals and align your surveys with them. For instance, if you’re seeking insights into the customer experience, design a survey that solicits feedback from new customers after they’ve made a purchase. If you’re considering adding new product lines or opening a new location, use surveys to test the water and help you make more informed decisions.
2. Encourage Online Reviews
Customer reviews are an important tool for receiving customer feedback and driving traffic to your business site. Today, 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business and 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more.
Encourage your customers to review your business online, whether it’s on your Facebook page, your Google “My Business” profile, Yelp, Nextdoor or other industry-specific sites. Link to your preferred platform from your website and your marketing emails. Most importantly, monitor and manage your reviews. Review and respond to comments — both positive and negative — and use the feedback to drive improvements.
There are many online reputation management tools that can help with this process. These include Google Alerts (free) and feature-rich tools such as BirdEye, ReviewTrackers, Thryv (designed for small business) and Podium.
3. Empower Employees
Encourage and train your employees to be up front and ask for feedback at the point of sale. Make it as conversational and unstructured as possible. Probe customers to share their thoughts on their experience doing business with your company. What was done well? What could be done better? Was their experience as expected?
Ensure that they share this information with management and back-office teams so that issues can be resolved and suggestions are acted on quickly. This could be via an employee suggestion box, online collaboration tools, or regular open-door meetings and feedback sessions.
Never Stop Asking
No matter how you gather customer feedback, ask for it often and make good on what you learn. By addressing what really matters to customers, whether it’s good or bad feedback, your business can make lasting improvements in areas such as service delivery times, pricing, employee performance and more.
Feedback is also a valuable marketing tool. Look for ways to turn your most valuable feedback into testimonials and other forms of content marketing.