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.

Using surveys or polls for business

Using a survey or a poll is great way to understand what your customer wants. The answers you get can give you an insight into what your customers think of you and your business; what kind of service they want; and it gives them a chance to share their perspectives with you. If your survey or poll is engaging, then your customers are more likely to participate and spread the word about you.

The way I see it, surveys/polls have four main objectives…

  1. Getting feedback from existing customers about products or services that you have provided. Ask them if the product or service could be improved or if there was a way it would work better for them. You can use this to improve your services or extend your product line.
  2. You can use a survey to get testimonials from your customers. What worked well for them and why? You can then ask them if you can use their comment in your advertising or on your website/social media page.
  3. To find out what your customers want – is there an issue that needs solving…one that they’d be willing to pay for? If you know exactly what your customers want, you can develop products or services to fit their needs. This shows that not only do you listen to what they say, you act on it.
  4. They can help you find out what current buying trends are.  Online spending has been growing since lockdown, and an online survey or poll are two of the best ways to find out what your customers are thinking, how they spend and why they spend…and what they are spending their money on. If you ask the right questions,  you can gather this kind of information fairly easily.   

What questions do you ask?

There are many you could ask and I’ve listed some areas you might want to think about. When you are creating your questions, think about what you want to achieve…are you looking for ideas for new products or services? Are you wanting to know what needs to be improved? Here are some ideas and pointers that might help you… 

  • If you’re doing a poll, you might want to just stick to one question. You could do a series of polls over a number of weeks on a social media network.
  • If you are a blogger, you could ask your customers what subjects they might be interested in…for example if you are a beauty blogger, you might find that several of your customers have the same problem that you could address with a blog, such as ‘how to apply mascara properly’ or ‘what are the best products for sensitive skin?’ Answering questions helps set you up as an expert in your field.
  • Segmenting your customers will help you reach the right audience with the right message. A simple example…if you run a garden centre and you send out a regular newsletter, you could ask what plants your audience are interested in. Some may be interested in herbs and fruit – another in climbing plants – someone else in vegetables and flowers. You can then use this information to better target your marketing and communications.
  • Get feedback on your website…is it easy to navigate? Can your customers find what they’re looking for? Are there any areas that could be improved or any products/services they’d like to see you sell or offer?
  • Are you thinking of setting up an event? Events take up a huge amount of time and effort from planning to execution, so before you invest your time and money, you could create a poll or survey to find out what kind of event they’d like. Give several options and include an ‘other’ answer, as they may come up with something you hadn’t thought of.
  • Competitions – you can use a survey to host a competition. For example if you make cakes, you could put several pictures of cakes you have made and ask, ‘Which cake do you think deserves Cake of the Month’? This also serves to show potential customers what you can do and gives you the chance to show several different kinds of cakes you do. And for the competition aspect, you could offer a 10% discount to the winner. Which you draw at random from the participants.  
  • Finally – get a fun aspect in there! Polls in particular don’t have to be serious – if you just want to engage with your customers, ask a question. This could be something as simple as showing two of your products, labelling them A and B, and asking which one your customers like the best. Or you could ask, ‘What is your favourite ice cream flavour’, or ‘What is your favourite thing about travelling?’ Often, these kind of questions spark  interest and a conversation. I would advise not to ask anything controversial and avoid politics, current affairs or religion,!

Once you have your survey or poll, post it on your Facebook or Instagram account, or put it on your website. If you want specific information from your existing customers, you could include the survey or poll in your newsletter or on email.

If you do put your survey on your website, don’t do it so that it pops up the minute someone visits your site, as that can be irritating and can be seen as intrusive.

Final Hot Tip!

Everyone likes a reward, so offer some kind of incentive for your customers if they complete your survey. Give a free report or an e-book, or offer them a discount on the next purchase they make from you. Offer a further discount, or a free item, if they recommend five people who buy from you.

Good luck, and if you have done this with your business, let me know how you got on!

A peek into the mind of an online shopper

Online shopping has never been more popular, and not just amongst the younger generation. Lockdown was a contributing factor to more people starting to shop online and it seems that it is continuing. More online stores are opening, which will mean that competition to stand out is fierce…and online marketplaces help build trust with customers and give a more convenient way to buy from home, on your phone.

Why do people shop online? Here are a few reasons…

Wide variety of products

Online shoppers have access to absolutely anything they want to buy, whereas if they visit a store, they are limited to what that particular store sells and must visit several different stores to get everything they want. Online shopping puts every kind of store at your fingertips – it’s easy to browse and find what you want and easy to find the latest trends or fashions.

It’s convenient

You don’t have to go out, get stuck in traffic, find a parking space, or drag your children round the shops. You don’t have to worry about fitting it in around your job, rushing to catch the shops before they close. You can shop online 24/7 …and even shop in your PJs if you want to. It’s less stressful and often cheaper, as you can compare stores and prices much more easily.

Lower prices

It’s not just about loads of options when you shop online, but often you can find things you want at a much lower price than in stores. Online shops don’t have the overheads of a physical store.

You can also often find coupons or discounts online as this is a tactic used to rise above competitors. And several online stores operate within a cashback regime, so this is also attractive to buyers.

No sales pitch

When you visit a physical store, you are often pounced on by assistants, asking if you need help or trying to get you to buy something you didn’t want. If something isn’t available, you’ll often be tempted to try something else. Many a time, I’ve gone to a specific store to buy a particular dress, only to find it’s not in stock, or they don’t have the colour I want. But do I leave the store empty handed? Very rarely! I have bought things I don’t really want, have been persuaded that a different colour will really suit me by the assistant and know it’s not really for me, but often just get caught up in the moment and buy anyway.

Plain packaging

When you shop online, you don’t have to worry about what you buy – if you want to buy some really sexy underwear or something a bit more intimate for the bedroom, buying online means you can choose for it to be delivered in plain packaging. You don’t have to be embarrassed at the checkout. You can also browse everything you want to look at, read the descriptions and decide which item you want, without an assistant hovering. And you can take your time to choose.

No crowds and no queues

This is an obvious one – I absolutely hate crowded shopping centres, so online shopping suits me as I don’t have to queue to buy something, nor do I have to feel claustrophobic in crowds.

Baskets and checkout

The thing I really like about online shopping is the quick and easy checkout process. I just add what I want to my basket, and then checkout at my leisure. It’s usually quick and simple – you can also choose which delivery option you want and can often get next day delivery. There are also lots of local shops who do free delivery, which is an added bonus.

Customer reviews

I like to check out what other people think about a product before I buy it and online shopping makes this a cinch. Information and product descriptions are usually clear – you know if the product you are buying is environmentally friendly, and you can see what other buyers think of the product before you buy.

The stats

In 2021, it is estimated that 2.14 billion people worldwide will purchase goods online (Statista). And that global ecommerce sales are forecast at over four trillion dollars. As well as this, projections are that ecommerce sales globally are going to grow to 6.4 trillion by 2024.

According to Thinkwithgoogle, 2018, 63% of shopping occasions begin online. This means that, no matter whether a product is bought online or at a physical store, the customer journey began online, with a search. This just goes to show that if you have an online business, it makes sense to ensure that the customer experience is first class. Understanding how your target audience searches for products you sell can help you create a unique customer experience.

It goes without saying that the recent and ongoing pandemic has had a massive impact across the globe regarding online shopping. Strict lockdown has seen online shopping skyrocket – especially grocery shopping.

Conclusion

Online shopping is set to evolve further as time goes on. If businesses want to survive, they must get online to keep up with the latest trends.

A particular plus for me regarding online shopping is that I know that I’m buying something that hasn’t been picked up, tried on or handled by loads of different people. However, having said that, there is still something exciting about wandering around the shops and finding something you never knew you wanted! And, being a huge stationery fan, I love to browse a stationery aisle…and don’t get the same buzz online.

What are your thoughts on online shopping? Do you prefer it, or do you like to have a wander and a browse in a physical store?