You might not realize it, but customer feedback is one of your business’s most important assets. It never feels good to open yourself up to potentially negative comments but, in many cases, it’s the only way to cut through the noise and zero in on what is really causing problems for your customers.
Companies that (1) collect customer feedback and (2) treat it as an opportunity stand to make key improvements to their products and services that boost retention and attract new customers.
Here are five ways to collect customer feedback and some best practices for putting it to work:
1. Chat With Your Customers One-on-One
Talking to customers one-on-one is an underutilized method of collecting feedback. It might feel awkward to work on such a personal level, but it doesn’t have to be all business. Customers actually appreciate opportunities to connect with companies on a human level. Just remember that your main goal is not to market and sell, but to show a genuine interest in helping your customer with a real problem they’re facing.
2. Conduct Short and Long Surveys
Surveys can be deployed during the sales cycle, after service, through email campaigns, or even in person to get straightforward feedback from customers. Both short and long questionnaires are effective methods of collecting feedback, but each has its place.
Short surveys are better when placed within the regular flow of user behavior—after completing a step in the sales process, etc. Asking a handful of quick, topical questions while customers are still engaged can give you a good sense of how they feel about what they just did. But don’t keep them long. Let them get in, get out, and get on with their day.
Longer surveys are a little more daunting, so you can’t try to squeeze them in just anywhere. It’s better to set fresh expectations for the experience — inviting them to participate through an email (perhaps with a 10% discount on an additional or future service to sweeten the deal) is a good approach.
These in-depth exercises are great for generating feedback about some of your deeper questions. These can easily be integrated after a sale is complete. No matter the reason, it’s important to tell your customers how the information will be used so they understand the benefits of their participation.
Lastly, you should make sure you’re able to collect responses to as many questions as possible. Don’t rely on a single Submit button at the bottom of a 50-question survey. Instead, spread submission milestones throughout or use a tool that records responses at the point of entry.
3. Be Sure To Read the Comments
There’s a popular adage in digital publishing: “Don’t read the comments.” The opposite is true for businesses—especially on social media.
The comment sections of your social pages can give you a huge range of feedback types. Yes, a lot of it is the age-old pastime of exaggerating grievances. But even that can give you anecdotal data about how your company or products is perceived by the general public.
Taking it one step further, you can use social media to ask them for their opinions directly. You might be surprised by what you learn, as well as by the community you can build by embracing this kind of engagement style.
4. Review Transcripts from Live Chats and Sales Calls
No one in your company takes more fire than your front office/customer support team. If there’s a problem with your product or service, they can tell you about it. If you have a website live chat feature enabled, you can consult the transcripts of those conversations to identify areas where customers are running into practical problems that you can resolve.
Similarly, recorded sales calls can expose your blind spots. What are your leads saying that might indicate you’re missing the mark? Can you identify problems that you can solve with new features? A periodic analysis of sales calls can help you guide prospects more efficiently down the funnel.
5. Set Up a Suggestion Board
The last recommendation is also one of the easiest. Make a suggestion board available to your team members! What are they hearing from your customers? Let them do the strategic work for you!
Customer Feedback Is Invaluable
Not all questions can be answered by reviewing sales or performance metrics. Sometimes it’s best to just go to the source. Asking your customers for direct and specific feedback can give you a wealth of insights that can help you plan and strategize.
With good methods in place for what information to collect and how to collect it, your business will benefit in ways you never expected.