Blog Posts

How to Crush Customer Experience Using Stellar Online Feedback

July 29, 2020

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.

Bad customer experience

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.

Learning From Honest 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.

Reading Online Reviews

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.

Review preference quote

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.

What if My Reviews Don’t Tell Me Much?

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.

Chart on business reviews

How Do I Get More Reviews?

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.  

Sending Surveys

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.

Setting Survey Goals

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.

  • Net Promoter Score® – A Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey is a simple way to understand how well-respected your brand is overall. It asks customers a single question: “On a scale or 0-10, how likely would you be to recommend our business to a friend or colleague?” Based on these responses, you can understand who loves you, who doesn’t, and who’s lukewarm. The diagram below illustrates how NPS is calculated.
Net Promotor Score Calculation
  • Customer satisfaction – This is a 5-10 questions survey that covers all the basics. Depending on your business, you might be curious about satisfaction related to wait times, interactions with your employees, quality of goods and services, and so on.
  • Product development – If you’re a restaurant, you might want to know what people think of the food you’ve prepared. Are they happy with taste and flavor? Are they satisfied with variety? A product development survey can give you an idea of what customers think, which might help you develop newer or better products. Just remember, people don’t always know what they really want.
  • Staff Performance and Service Visits – Businesses that provide services (automotive, pest control, or what have you), might want to get a feel for how individual employees did on a project or service visit. You can send a survey that lets your customers evaluate their service provider, which helps them understand how they can improve, or helps you find reasons to reward them.

Survey Best Practices

Once you know what your goals are, it’s time to write the questions in your survey. Here are some basic tips:

  • Keep your survey to ten questions or fewer – This is a rule of thumb, to be sure, but shorter surveys are more likely to be completed. You may get dishonest answers from longer surveys when respondents get burned out toward the end.
  • Avoid leading questions – A question like “how much did you like our excellent new offering?” already assumes the offering is excellent. Make sure your questions are neutral.
  • Be specific; don’t ask two questions in one— A question like “Rate our product and services” asks someone to review two unrelated things in one question. Give them one thing to focus on.
  • Make answer choices balanced – For multiple choice questions, give respondents as many positive options as negative options, and one neutral. See the example below.
  • Keep responses anonymous – People are often most honest if they know a survey is anonymous.
  • Send quarterly or less – If you send surveys to the same people too often, you’ll begin seeing fewer responses.

Survey sample question

Executing Your Survey

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.

  • In person – Asking a person to fill out a paper survey can be effective, but it can also be annoying for a customer. Plus, will they be honest if you know exactly who is leaving the survey? Plus, paper surveys require a nightmare of data entry before you can even analyze the data. Not your best bet.
Paper surveys are no good
  • Phone call – Gallup has been doing phone call surveys for years, but for an average business, these are cumbersome. Imagine calling a customer, asking them a series of questions, and then entering all that information. Now repeat two-dozen more times. It’s not an effective use of time.
  • Email – Emailing surveys in bulk is a great way to get a lot of responses. If you’re using an online survey tool to do it (we’ll discuss these) it’s easy to evaluate the responses.
  • Text message – Emailing a survey is great but if you really want to bump up response rates, you may want to text message a survey to customers. For NPS or other simple surveys, it’s easy to get hundreds of responses so you can have a good overall pulse on your business. For more complex surveys, it’s possible to text message a link to a longer survey. All you’ll need is a tool like Swell to make it easy to send surveys via text message.

Finding a Survey Tool

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.

Acting on Results

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.  

Creating a Feedback Machine

Last, it’s wise to consider how you’ll continue to get feedback via both reviews and surveys.

  • Reviews – It’s smart to ask customers to leave surveys via text message after regular visits. With Swell, you can automatically send review invites after various triggers in your CMS, POS, or EHR solution. This way, every time you complete a transaction with a customer, you can invite them to leave a review. This results in tons of feedback and lots of fresh reviews that will make you look awesome online. Just be sure not to resend review invites to people who’ve left reviews. Wait 3-6 months first.
  • Surveys – As noted, many businesses use surveys to evaluate employees after on-site service visits, or to evaluate the overall experience a customer had say, following an automotive repair. You may wish to set up regular surveys for situations like these to keep a regular pulse on things. You may also want to set up larger quarterly surveys to evaluate your business as a whole. Take a moment to define your survey strategy so you’re always getting new feedback.


Swell Survey Icon

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.

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