Do you know what your customers really think about your businesses? According to PWC, 1 in 3 customers will leave a brand after just one bad experience. Of the customers who do churn, most won’t even tell you why. No complaint and no bad review. They’ll just leave. But imagine if you could find problems faster and fix them, so customers stick around. Imagine if you could better anticipate customer needs, so you can prevent issues before they happen. This is the power of customer feedback.
With more high-quality feedback, you can understand the wants and needs of your customers, and, knowing what they like, you can make the experience much better for them. But how exactly do you get that feedback?
In this piece, we’ll look at a few of the common ways businesses gather customer feedback. We’ll also explore some strategies for how to create a feedback program that constantly provides you with valuable feedback.
Feedback is all about creating open lines of communications between your business and your customers. Outside of casual in-person conversations, most businesses get feedback in two ways: reviews and surveys.
You probably won’t try a new restaurant without reading a few reviews first. The same logic applies to people evaluating your business. Reviews tell people what it’s like to do business with you, which makes the substance of your customers’ reviews incredibly valuable. First, read through the reviews you currently have on Yelp, Google My Business, Facebook, and other review sites. While you should take some advice with a grain of salt (one reviewer’s preference on bathroom lighting probably isn’t worth a remodel), some of it can be incredibly helpful. Look for things that customers praise you for, is there a way to give them more of these flourishes? Think about the barbershop or salon that gives you a glass of wine or whiskey while you’re getting a haircut—those flourishes matter. When customers are critical of certain aspects of your business, what can you learn? Look for practical things you can improve right away. You might find certain staff members could use a little coaching on service. You might discover your tacos are a tad too crunchy (if there is such a thing). Whatever the case, look for trends in your reviews to see if there are things that clearly need fixing. Write these down and correct them as soon as you can.
Next, get in the habit of regularly looking through the new reviews you receive and replying to them—both good and bad. Platforms like Swell make it easy to aggregate reviews from across platforms, so you’ll always know where you stand. You’ll even have an easy way to reply to those reviews inside the same platform.
Some businesses reviews might not give you helpful feedback. It might be because your reviews are all generic responses. It might be because they’re mostly positive and nobody is very critical (this sounds great, but it doesn’t mean you can’t improve). It also might be because you don’t have many reviews to begin with. What should you do? Get more reviews by asking customers to leave them. According to BrightLocal, 85% of customers are willing to leave a business a review. Often, all you need to do is ask.
We cover best practices for soliciting reviews in another piece, but the most effective approach is to send review invites via text-message. It’s easy to ignore an email, but most people will see a text message. If you make it easy for people to leave you a review, hundreds of your customers will. Suddenly, you’ll have tons of feedback you can apply to your business. Check out this piece for more information on how to harness the power of reviews.
Reviews are helpful, but the fact that they’re public and not anonymous might make some of your most loyal customers shy away from being honest. They might review you if they’re happy, but will they publicly throw you under the bus if you make a mistake? They might just keep their thoughts to themselves and move on. Wouldn’t you rather know about problems? In order to get deeper, more thoughtful feedback, you can do a survey.
It’s surprisingly easy to create and send a survey, but there are a few steps that will help you ensure that you get the kind of feedback you’re looking for. First, what are you trying to accomplish with a survey? Do you want a general idea about what customers think of you? Are you wondering why your customer base is shrinking? Do you want highly specific feedback about how to improve a product or service? Maybe you’re curious about specific sales/service interactions and how your employees are doing? We don’t have space here for a full list of survey types, but here’s a look at some of the more common ones and what they can do for you.
Once you know what your goals are, it’s time to write the questions in your survey. Here are some basic tips:
There are a few different ways to send surveys or gather survey data. The method you choose might affect the way you phrase questions and how you evaluate the results.
These days there are dozens of free survey tools like SurveyMonkey or even Google Forms. Your choice of tool will depend on how often you plan to send surveys, how complex your surveys will be, and how sophisticated your overall survey strategy is. For many local businesses, a free survey solution will do the job for occasional one-off surveys. If you’re hoping to launch a full customers satisfaction program, you may need a paid tool that can automate survey sends after customer interactions, service visits, support calls, and so on. This constant feedback can be incredibly powerful. Whatever the case may be, take some time to evaluate tools, and pick one that makes sense for your budget and survey needs. And note that one of the most effective ways to send surveys is via text message. Emails are easy to ignore. People will see your texts and—as with reviews—they’ll answer your survey if you make it super easy.
You sent your survey and you got some responses. Now it’s time to evaluate. This stage is about getting a clear look at how your business is doing—warts and all. You may be doing worse than you though. You may be doing better. Whatever the case, remember that feedback is a good thing. Wouldn’t you rather know what’s wrong so you can fix it? Or would you rather see your customer base disappear and never know why? Take a hard look at your results and begin fixing issues you see. For suggestions and recommendations, write them down. Your customers might have a lot of ideas you never thought about. But as we discussed with reviews, many of these should be taken with a grain of salt.
Last, it’s wise to consider how you’ll continue to get feedback via both reviews and surveys.
Feedback is how you learn ways to improve. It’s how you whomp your competition. When it comes in the form of online reviews, it’s how you publicly prove that your business is the tops. If you’re not using it to your advantage, now is a great time to start.
And if you’re looking for an easy way to not only get more reviews but to keep a pulse on your NPS score, check out Swell. Swell makes it easy to solicit reviews via text message, but it’s also built with tools for sending text-based surveys, so you can get great response rates as you find new ways to improve. Get your demo today.