How best to gather your customers feedback

“Please take a moment to give us your feedback”; it’s the question that will make most people groan with annoyance. It’s everywhere, right? Hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, online retailers… everyone’s asking the question, but does it actually mean anything?

To a business owner, feedback is invaluable. It can tell them what they are doing right, or perhaps what areas require some immediate attention. If done properly it can be a powerful business development tool that increases client retention and sales.

The tricky part is finding a sensible system that efficiently gathers feedback, without unintentionally winding up customers.

Before jumping in and asking the question, think about these points…

1. What was good AND bad?

It's great to hear how happy customers are and how pleased they are with a business, but there's not much that can be learnt from these positive comments. By asking a customer what wasn't so good will prompt them to reveal areas of potential improvements and allow a business owner to make important decisions which ultimately, could improve customer retention and increase sales.

2. Don’t forget your manners

If a customer takes the time to provide you with their feedback, then at the very least a business should respond to thank them for their comments and let them know that their feedback is appreciated. However this is done, the customer will appreciate knowing that their feedback has been acknowledged and that their concerns will be addressed.

3. Sometimes it’s ok to talk to strangers

Customers may be more inclined to open up to an anonymous person, than to someone that works within the business. The feedback will be more genuine as a customer won't feel pressured or worried about being honest. This also enables the business to concentrate on running daily operations and time to follow up on the feedback.

Then decide how to ask…

There’s a number of different ways to ask for feedback and the key is really knowing your customers and what may be of a hindrance to them.

The most successful way of asking for feedback, is a good old-fashioned telephone call and

a chat. In our experience, this has the highest response rate and the customer can simply say ‘no thanks’ if they don’t want to talk.

Other options include sending an email or creating an online form on your website to direct customers to, then they can fill this in at their own leisure and at a time that suits them if they so wish to.

Alternatively, if you want to make the investment, post them a printed feedback card. Ask them to fill in the card (ideally which has been postage pre-paid) and then pop it in the post back to you.

And finally, review and promote!

Don’t let the process be wasted, use your feedback to enhance your marketing efforts. Publish the comments on your website and via social media or include them in your email campaigns. Offer to include a link back to the customers website (if they have one), as a thank you – this will be beneficial to them, plus it may encourage more customers to provide their feedback.

Set aside time to go through the feedback and evaluate it to pinpoint any issues or concerns and make decisions as to how these could be addressed. It’s not the nicest thing to read your criticisms, but ultimately, it’s how a business learns to adapt and grow.

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