When was the last time you booked a hotel or restaurant without first checking out online reviews? When you need a plumber, do you ask your neighbor for a recommendation? How much merit do you place in a business having great reviews, testimonials or ratings?
These days it’s likely most businesses you deal with will seek feedback from you about your experience. The internet enables the collection of, and access to, a wide range of feedback and reviews. There’s a plethora of services available to help you collect feedback so if you’re not collecting feedback from your customers, then why not?
The primary reasons why businesses don’t collect feedback tend to be because they 1) are concerned about negative feedback or 2) they don’t know what to ask or 3) they don’t know what to do with the results. It’s either perceived as a Pandora’s Box or a task that’s permanently on the ‘to do’ list.
There is the saying that ‘ignorance is bliss’. If you’re not collecting feedback that it’s easy to tell yourself that the products or service you offer are making customers happy. But this head in the sand approach can be detrimental for your business and often once you do find out about issues, it can be too late to fix them. At best your customer retention suffers. At worse your business reputation – and your ability to operate your business long term – takes a hit.
If you need help developing a strategy there’s hundreds if not thousands of blogs and articles that address this very thing. You’ll learn what questions you should ask, who you should approach, when you should approach, and how you can improve your response rates. You’ll also learn how to embrace negative feedback because you’re not perfect and a negative review can actually be a lot more useful to you than a positive one.
Here’s some reasons why you need to collect customer feedback:
- Demonstrate you care about your customers. Collecting, sharing and acting on your customer’s opinions and feelings is a tangible demonstration that you are focused on improving their experience and outcomes. Just the act of requesting feedback can have a positive impact on customer retention and your bottom line.
- Use your customers to sell your services. Affirmative quotes, narratives and stories should be used to promote your business on your website, social media pages, in advertising, and on marketing collateral. New customers look for tangible, credible evidence about your services, often before they’ve even spoken to you. Customer feedback also ensures your messaging stands out from the generic content of your competitors.
- Stay top of mind. Surveying your customers at least two-three times per year (where appropriate) escalates your services in the customer’s mind. If they’ve not heard from you for nine-plus months, what’s the likelihood that they’ll recommend you to their network on a regular basis? Will your business come to mind when someone mentions an project that you could help with?
- Improve your response rate. Use a third party to collect feedback and do so in a manner that doesn’t put the customer on the spot. Most of us don’t like confrontation so collecting feedback in a neutral manner, at a time and in an environment that the customer is most comfortable with, will lead to more honest and upfront feedback. You can choose to collect it anonymously but not knowing who said what does limit your ability to act.
- Get your team singing from the same hymn book. Everyone in your business is responsible for fostering strong relationships with your customers. Regularly collecting feedback — and monitoring performance — is a good way to remind your employees that their diligence and customer focus is paramount. Customer feedback represents the experience of using your business, enabling you and your team to assess and address any performance issues much more quickly and effectively.
- Keep your finger on the pulse. A well-implemented customer feedback strategy provides key stakeholders with the information and insights needed to make confident decisions designed to improve performance and deliver increased value. It’s a good way to understand what’s happening at ground level if you’re unable to be present for significant amounts of time.
- Manage risk. Did you know a dissatisfied customer tells an average of 16 people about their poor experience? Do you want to risk harming your business’s reputation? Collecting feedback regularly ensures you can nip this in the bud quickly, minimising negative effects on lifetime value, market share, profits, and business valuation.
- Continuously improve. Better understand your customers’ needs and concerns. Identify how you are performing, and what you need to focus on to build a more successful operation.
Asking for customer feedback can provide extremely valuable insights and other benefits for your business. Do you collect feedback from your customers on a regular basis? If not, what’s holding you back?