Customer feedback is one of the most important tools small businesses have at their disposal to stay ahead of the competition. Gathered and acted upon correctly, it can help you understand what your customers want, identify potential problems and build upon that knowledge to improve your offering going forward.
However, in order to effectively use customer feedback, small businesses first need to understand what type of feedback is useful and how to go about asking for it.
There are a few different types of customer feedback small businesses can collect:
Customer Surveys: This is one of the most common forms of customer feedback and involves customers responding to a set of questions either online or offline. Customer surveys can be used to measure customer satisfaction, understand motivations, gather brand sentiment and test the water on new ideas.
Customer Interviews: This type of feedback consists of a more in-depth conversation that can be used to receive feedback on specific elements of your product or service, understand why customers chose you over your competitors or find out what motivates them. These understandably can be quite time consuming and don't tend to be done on a regular basis; however, if you have loyal customers or, better still, brand advocates, this method of gathering feedback can be extremely useful.
Customer Reviews: Customer reviews can be found online on review websites such as TripAdvisor or on your own website. Customer reviews are a great way to shed light on what customers enjoy or dislike about your brand, and help gather insights and ideas for new products and services you know your customers are looking for.
Social Media: Sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are great places to gather feedback from existing and potential customers. All the available social platforms out there offer something different and they won't all be right for every business — consider your audience and their expectations when deciding which platforms to use. You can use social media to ask for customer feedback on specific elements of the business or simply discuss small business topics with both existing and potential customers alike via tweets and posts, or the useful polling feature found on all three platforms. Whichever route you take, it’s of vital importance to have a solid social media strategy in place to guide this approach.
Businesses should collect customer feedback regularly in order for it to be useful, but not so frequently that the requests begin to rub customers up the wrong way. It's a difficult balance to strike, so if you're particularly worried about customers unsubscribing from email lists etc. it's best to err on the side of caution.
If possible though, do try to ask for feedback soon after purchase, as you can address any issues while they are still fresh in your customer's mind this way. And in order to get a complete picture of what the customer thinks, try to build a natural feedback loop into your email marketing and CRM campaigns.
Whichever approach you take, it's important to respect your customers' time; just like the rest of us, they'll appreciate being rewarded for their feedback, so consider offering a discount code or money-off voucher to be used towards their next purchase. After all, it's a win for them and for you.
Many small businesses struggle to make use of customer feedback effectively. Often, they'll either ask for feedback and not act upon it, or they'll use it to create a feedback loop that doesn't improve their business. Here are three ways to actually use customer feedback to improve your small business:
Customer feedback is essential to small businesses and their future growth. Smart business owners should be asking for feedback regularly and making the most of it to improve their products, services and overall customer experience.
For more insightful articles and advice for small business success, check out the rest of the takepayments blog.