Customer feedback is eye-opening. It will help you identify issues you haven’t spotted and decide what course of action you need to take in order to improve in those areas.
It’s impossible to know everything that happens in your business and customer feedback will work as extra pairs of eyes that you need, and you don’t personally have.
It’s a common tactic from the serious businesses in the market to do anything to obtain the customers feedback. They use any means available to get valuable information from the customers’ point of view regarding their products and services.
How many times have you used TripAdvisor to choose a restaurant or a place to stay, based on the ratings from the customer feedback?
How many times you have turned down buying a product online because the customer reviews were poor? How many times have you chosen to use a business because a friend gave you great feedback about them?
Customer feedback is a game-changer, it will define your future as a business and will save you from trouble only if you manage to do these 2 basic things:
- Be able to get it from your customers
- Use it to make the necessary changes
How to get Customer Feedback
It’s important to understand that feedback can be provided by different types of people. They might be your close friends, family members, employees, customers, competitors, etc.
All these people have different needs, wants, expectations, education, employment and financial status, origin, religion, sex, age, marital status, sexual orientation, etc.
This means that you need to provide a number of different ways of allowing them to offer you the feedback your business needs.
Feedback methods you can use:
- Face to face verbally
- Comments and reviews on your website
- Email communication with customers
- Through your Social Media, like Facebook, Instagram,Twitter
- Satisfaction surveys
- Feedback cards given to the customers after service
Face to Face Feedback
When you deal with Face to Face feedback, you need to be aware of the following key points for the best possible results:
- Be patient and understand the feedback. Use active listening and wait for the other person to complete their thoughts. Don’t give an answer straight away at this point as you need to take the time to listen in order to formulate your answer.
- Use your emotional intelligence. When a customer expresses their thoughts to you, it is combined with a number of emotions. Be sure to behave and control yourself in such way, in order to be able to identify the customer’s feelings and emotions, as this will be critical of the outcome of this interaction.
- You need to check their body language, facial expressions and gestures with detail as it will give you additional helpful information regarding their feedback, details that cannot be spoken by them.
- Start asking relevant questions in order to fully understand and clarify what they are trying to explain to you. This will help you to formulate your response to them to the best possible level.
- Accept the feedback. Don’t turn them down, challenge them or, in the worst case, argue with them. Thank them for their time and effort to provide you with such valuable information to that gives you the chance to improve your products and services.
- Show them your appreciation and give them something back to make them feel better. This can be an update on what steps you will take to resolve the issue; you may need to ask their email to provide them with additional information on the issue; you might need to treat them with a product as a small gesture to say thank you and soften their mood; yoy might need to offer them a discount next time they come back. You will choose what to do based on the situation and the service recovery techniques you use in your business.
2 main types of feedback
This type of feedback is more mathematical and considered to be more objective.
It is used by several companies and requires the customer to give rating from 1 to 5 for example, with 1 reflecting a poor and 5 an excellent experience.
Quantitative feedback gives you the opportunity to interpret data statistically, identify patterns over periods of time and make it easy to determine satisfaction levels on a specific service or product.
This type is more subjective, non-mathematical and its main focus is on the “how” and “why” side of products and services.
It offers you the opportunity to get more details on the reasons the customers liked or disliked your product and services, ways to improve your service and specific areas of your business.
With this feedback you can get a good idea on the customers emotions, feelings, motivations, behaviour, needs and desires.
It is usually based on specific questions like “What do you think about the product you bought?” or “How can we improve our customer service?”
Depending on the type of your business and the information you are looking for, you can choose between these two types of feedback. You can even combine the two, by asking the customers to rate your product or services and also ask them two write a comment on their experience.
How to use Customer Feedback
Now the important part: you need to act on the feedback you have collected. This will improve your services and products and will show that you practically care for your customers and their opinion.
There is a series of actions you need to take in order to achieve the best outcomes.
You need to acknowledge each customer’s participation.
All you need to do basically is to thank them for taking the time and effort to provide you with their feelings, opinion and experience, by sending them a personal message if possible, explaining the importance of their feedback for improving your business.
Don’t wait until the last minute before the crash
Nowadays, people will use social media and other platforms to discuss their experiences.
This is where you need to focus on and be able to monitor any chatter regarding your business and their experience in it.
You need to act fast and not let bad spots linger; read their comments, translate them reasonably and impartially without taking things on a personal level and then go and resolve any issue. When you do so, take part in the discussion and let everyone know that you have acted on their comments.
Don’t forget to thank them, being polite always wins!
Categorise the actions you need to take
You need to set the results of the feedback in categories, based on the urgency and importance. My suggestion is to have 3 categories:
Immediate, where you need to include all those actions that need to take place straight away. In this category you will include actions that are the resulting from the feedback of a big number of customers and threaten your sales and customer retention.
Mid-Term: in this category, the issues you have identified from the feedback, will become real problems for your business, if you do not take any action in the following weeks or months.
Long-Term: here you include actions you need to take in the long run regarding innovation, changes and improvement. They usually take longer time to consider and finally action them. Due to the nature of these actions and the deeper effect they might have in your business, it’s wise to involve your key members of staff and some of your lifelong customers, as their opinion will prove valuable to your future plans.
At this point, you need to discuss with your managers and key members of your team, the actions that need to take place, the reasons behind all these decisions and the time scale of these actions.
When you have put the strategy together, start acting immediately with the short-term goals, by testing them with specific customers, to identify any further opportunities before you make them official and final.
You need to inform your customers about your actions on their feedback
Never skip this step. In my opinion, this is one of the most important in the whole process.
You owe an update to your customers who informed you about the changes you need to make and without them you would still be in the dark, on your way to failure.
They will feel appreciated and listened to, making them feel that they are a valuable part of your business. It is a great opportunity to thank them again and play the public relations game at its best version.
Customer Feedback is your powerful tool to use in the whole process of developing your business, your staff and yourself.
All this great development will reflect to your customers who will appreciate your efforts and therefore support you in the future.