How to make customer feedback work for you

What do you do when you get a fabulous comment or review about your product or service? Do you just say thank you with lots of hearts, or tell them you’re over the moon that they love your products or services? I suspect that most of us do exactly that. But, if you then do nothing else…because you got a good review…you could be missing important information that could help you grow your business even more, with advocates who love what you do.

What is customer feedback?

If you’re reading this, you’re probably the owner of a small business. You give your all to your business…your time, your energy, and a big part of you personally goes into making your business a success. You do this to ultimately make money from your business, but you also want to have happy customers who believe in what you do and love your products or services.

Customer feedback is the information that your customers give telling you if they are happy with what you provide. It could also be about your customer service. It’s their opinion, a snapshot in time, of the experience they’ve had in their dealings with you or your business.

  • Does getting good customer feedback make you feel good?
  • Do you take it personally if you don’t get a 5-star rating?
  • Do you see positive feedback as confirmation that your products/services are great?

I’m betting that you answered ‘yes’ to these questions. Getting a fabulous review makes all of us feel good, and the positive feedback shows that you are doing something right with your products or services. And, let’s face it, we all hate getting negative feedback, and it’s easy to take it personally if you don’t get a 5-star rating every time, but it does happen. You shouldn’t see it as a reflection of you as a person, it’s just that a particular customer didn’t feel that a 5-star rating was right. Hold that thought!

Customer feedback

Why is customer feedback important?

If some of the big companies who receive 5-star reviews were happy with that and left it at that, they would never progress their company. But they don’t do that…

Customer opinion is a great resource and gives the perfect excuse to find ways to improve the customer experience. You can collect information in many ways, from surveys (which is prompted feedback), to reviews that your customers post online (unprompted feedback). Both are important in seeing the bigger picture on how your customers perceive your brand. Big companies consistently listen to their customers – they don’t just look at the opinions that their clients leave online, or publish on social media/websites, they are also proactive in asking for feedback, by asking specific questions. If you want to stay at the top and consistently be ahead of your competition, you should always take feedback as a gift – prompted or unprompted, positive, or negative.

So, what does customer feedback give you?

  • It helps you improve your products and services. Whenever you launch something new, its success will be decided by your customers, as they are the ones who will be using it. They are in the perfect place to let you know about the quality, usefulness, aesthetic etc. They can also advise of any improvements they’d make, or how it could better meet their needs.
  • It tells you a lot about customer satisfaction. Feedback tells you about how they feel about your business. If you ask for feedback, yes, you could be inviting some negativity, but that’s not a bad thing, as you can work to improve it. For example, if you are in a restaurant and you’re not happy with a particular meal, or part of a meal, the restaurant would want you to tell them. Why? So, they can improve. If you don’t say anything, but just never come back, they don’t have that chance to put it right and make it better for other diners in the future. That’s why a lot of restaurants ask for feedback on their websites.
    You don’t have to conduct massive surveys; you can simply take a random sample of your customers and speak to them on the phone.
  • Your customers will feel valued. Following on from the last point, if you ask your customers for feedback, they will feel like you care about what they think, and they’ll feel involved. If you show that you genuinely care and value their opinion, they are more likely to give good feedback and to recommend you to their family and friends. Even a customer who complains can be turned into a loyal advocate if you take the time to speak to them about their concerns and come up with a solution…sometimes they’re not even complaining, they just have a suggestion, which may actually help you. They will feel involved if you take their suggestion and implement it!
  • It helps you provide a better customer service. There are times when, through no fault of your own, things go wrong. For example, a delivery is late arriving, or maybe the orders have got a bit mixed up and they receive the wrong order. These things can happen, we’re all human!
    If you have something in place, whereby customers can easily contact you to discuss their problems, it’s more likely you’ll be able to resolve it. The quicker you respond to a complaint, no matter how small, the more likely you’ll be able to earn loyalty in the future. Don’t take it personally – this is a hard one, but I really can’t reiterate this enough. A customer has a right to tell you about their problem, and nine times out of ten it can be resolved easily. However, of course, there will be the odd time that something can’t be resolved, and if it can’t, it’s best to say so, offer a refund or an alternative, and move on. But this is extremely rare.
  • It helps you retain your existing customers. Caring, listening, showing you value opinions, and being genuine with your customers are all things that will encourage them to stay loyal to you. As they get to know you, your business, and your brand, they will understand what you stand for and what you believe in. They will be able to relate to you and will trust you – these are the things that will make a customer stay loyal to a brand.
  • Helps gain more customers. Someone who buys online will have looked at many other businesses before they decide to buy. None of us automatically buy from every business we come across, and we don’t tend to buy from businesses we have never heard of. 90% of online shoppers read online reviews before buying. This is where feedback is crucial. Word of mouth is also seriously underrated. People will buy from a business that has been recommended to them by a family member or from friends. If you don’t encourage reviews, you are shutting the door to new business, so make it easy for customers to leave a review. It’s important for new visitors to see what others have to say – and to see how you respond to your customers, so ALWAYS reply.
  • Helps you with your future strategies. If you know your customers, know what they like and dislike, you are in a much better position to make plans for the future of your business. Feedback helps you know where you can improve, what kind of products or services are popular, and what they might like to see from you in the future. This can only be a good thing.

Conclusion

Customer feedback is an important resource for all businesses, no matter how big or small. It measures the success of your products or services, and can help you develop new products or services, as well as helping you decide on new strategies for your future.

You can collect customer feedback via your online shop, your website, through social media, sending surveys, through a live chat or via messenger, or by simply picking up the phone and speaking to them – you could even do this via video chat.    

Don’t take things personally if you get a little negativity – see it as an opportunity to turn things around and make that customer your biggest fan.

Listen to your customers, make them feel that their opinions matter and don’t be afraid to ask them questions about your business. It can only help you improve, and ultimately will result in loyal customers who trust and believe in you, your business, and your brand.

9 ways to connect with your customers and grow your business

Do you want to grow your business
now and into 2019?

Every year millions of us make New Year’s Resolutions – but nine times out of ten, by the end of January, those resolutions are a distant memory. If you run a small business, or indeed any business, I’m sure that a business resolution is to grow your business year on year. So, rather than only make resolutions in January, why not think about it now? Start putting plans in place to connect with your customers in a more effective way – if your customers feel a connection with you, trust you and get great customer service, your business will grow.

Know and understand your customers
Your existing customers are your ‘bread and butter’. You already know that they like your products or services, but do you actually know them and understand why they buy what they do from you? The simplest way to get this information is to ask them! Send a

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Ask your customer for a review

survey telling them you value their opinion and ask what they like or dislike about your products/services.
If a customer has not given you a review, send them an email and ask them if they would, or if they prefer not to put a review in a public place, ask them if they would share their views with you on email. Good or bad, we can all learn from feedback.
As a ‘thank you’ for completing a survey or giving a review, you could offer them a discount when they next buy your products or use your services. Customer loyalty is absolutely crucial to your business and this will encourage just that!

Be accessible to your customers
This goes hand in hand with point number one and really speaks for itself. The one thing I hate when I ring a company to ask about their product or to find out more information, is reaching that robotic automated response. I’m more likely to hang up than I am to

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Listen to your customers

wait. It’s so important, especially for small businesses, to be accessible to customers. They want to speak to you, a real person, and have a friendly chat and get advice, or to place an order. It might not be you, but maybe someone who works for you, but try and ensure your customers speak to a real person. It helps build good relationships and trust and, when the conversation is over, they leave with a good feeling, instead of frustrated at having to ‘press 1’ for this or ‘press 2’ for that. Make sure that your contact details are easy to find and in a prominent place on all correspondence, social media and your website. If customers can’t find you, they’ll go somewhere else.

Make use of Social Media sites
Nearly everyone these days, from youngsters to pensioners are online in one way or another. Make sure your business has a social media presence, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or one of the many other sources. Check your social media pages a

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Answer comments on social media sites

few times a day, reply to any comments or questions on your business pages. Listen to other businesses and what they have to say and comment on their pages. Engage generally with as many people as you can – this will help you understand behaviours and new trends, which you may be able to tap into.
The most important thing on social media is to stay focused – don’t get drawn into online arguments on your business page – keep it professional. Keep your page upbeat and positive.

Spend time networking

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Attend a networking event

It’s important to meet other like-minded people, so try and attend a couple of networking events and meet other small businesses. Networking events are great for sharing business cards and flyers, talking about what you do and finding out what others in your area do. Fantastic for building new relationships, networking helps you connect with potential customers, employees and collaborators and even investors.

Collaboration

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Collaborate!

This follows on nicely from networking. Find people you can collaborate with – for example, if you’re a hairdresser, you might want to link up with a make-up artist, so if you get booked for a wedding or special party, you can recommend a make-up artist…and vice versa. You can also share links to your websites on each other’s pages.

Incorporate visual marketing into your strategy
Use good images, live stream chats, webinars, videos and infographics to help promote

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Make a video

your business. Technology is always moving on and 2018 has seen a huge surge in this type of marketing. Don’t get left behind. There are loads of sites that offer free images or you could do a ‘live’ Facebook broadcast – it doesn’t have to be long. If you want to really connect with your customers, you could invite a small group to join you in a video chat to discuss what they like about your business and what might be improved. This would give you invaluable information.

Give away free stuff!

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Give a gift!

Everyone loves a freebie. You could give a few samples of a new product and ask your customers to trial it and give feedback. You could simply give a free gift to loyal customers or offer them a discount for a limited amount of time. This makes them feel valued, it nurtures your relationship with them and keeps them coming back for more. They’re also more likely to recommend you to their family and friends

Keep in touch with customers
Try and find a regular way to keep in touch with your customers. This could be a monthly newsletter or email, a courtesy call after a sale or after they have used your

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Keep in touch with customers

service. Think about it – if you bought something from a small business and a month later they rang you to see how you were getting on with that product, it would make you remember them in future. A balance needs to be struck as you don’t want to be a nuisance, but a simple courtesy call can make all the difference and shows you care. If there is a problem, it gives you the chance to solve it and so delight the customer even more. They will remember this kind of service.

Adapt and measure your business as it grows
We get our customers from many different places and ways – don’t forget to look for new ways to contact potential customers. Look at old business plans as there may have been

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Measure to see what works and what doesn’t

something that didn’t work for you in the past that might now be perfect.
Don’t be afraid to stop doing something if it’s not working for you – it’s no good flogging a dead horse. Put it on the back burner to return to at a later date.
Don’t be scared to try new marketing ideas, learning about new social media channels, do a course on how to do video for your business. You will never know if something works if you don’t try.
And ALWAYS measure what you do to see what works and what doesn’t. Monitor where your customers come from so you know what marketing sources work best for you.

Finally, decide which way you’re going to take your business for the rest of this year and into next, write them down and update your existing business/marketing plan and incorporate into next year’s plans. If you don’t yet have a business/marketing plan, now might be the time to start!

If you have any observations or questions, please contact me – I love to chat about different approaches to customers and marketing.