Customer feedback is useful for small businesses and your personal brand in many ways. Glowing reviews are effective for turning prospects into customers when placed on your website, and less favorable reviews shed light on what needs improving. Actually getting feedback can be tough though, especially if your data collection is disorganized or if garnering reviews is not a priority on your growing list of things to do.
The process does not have to be difficult or too time-consuming, but it does have to be organized. Follow these tips to start collecting better data about what your customers think of your business, goods and services:
Narrow Your Focus
Stay away from broad questions like “How did we do?” and other inquiries that don't deliver useful responses. You'll get more specific feedback when you ask more specific questions, such as “How satisfied were you with your waiter today?” or “Did this website feature work well for you?” Let customers rate their experience on a scale from one to five, and throw in a text box for further comments, but keep that part optional. Doing so makes the review process painless for customers, which will increase their rate of response.
You may amend your focus as you get further into the review process, but avoiding changing your questions too often. Repeat the same questions to get a better gauge of how your business is improving in key areas over time.
Consider Offering Incentives
Respect the value of your customers' time by rewarding their choice to give you feedback. Look at these expenses as part of your overall budget for surveys. You can't afford to go without customer feedback, so look at it as a small investment in your business's future.
Your website is a great avenue for gathering customer feedback. Stay away from intrusive survey requests that float across the pages and instead install a clearly marked “feedback” button on every page. You want to gently encourage customers to respond, not annoy them into submission (or worse, drive them away from your site).
Make Regular Survey Requests
Your website is not the only venue you use to contact customers, so it should not be the only place where you ask for feedback. Include survey requests in all interactions to up your response rate. Carry printed-out forms when you meet customers in person, add a link to your survey in email messages and don't forget to mention the survey over the phone.
Consider Your Overall Results
Don't let one bad review send you into a tailspin, and don't think all your problems are solved when you receive one glowing review. Aim to collect statistically valid results over a longer period of time, and don't make any business decisions based solely on a handful of responses.
Finally, remember that feedback collection is an ongoing process. You are always striving for more success, so make it part of your long-term business plan.