Small Business Ideas

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Ways to Gather Customer Feedback – Part 1 of 2

by Emily O'Shaughnessy

Most small businesses place a high importance on customer feedback. They understand how the information provides valuable insight into their products and services, and that it can help them learn more about their customers.

However, determining the best way to gather that feedback can be overwhelming. There are so many methods to getting customer feedback that it’s hard to know which will prove most effective for your business, both from a time and cost perspective. Listening to customers should be an ongoing dialogue, and here are some good ways for small businesses to gather that feedback:

Surveys: Online surveys can be simple or complex. There are companies such as Survey Monkey that specialize in these, so depending on your budget and objectives it might be a good fit for your company. If you do decide to send out a survey, here are a few tips:

  • Keep it Short: Nobody wants to commit to a 30-minute survey session. Even happy customers have short attention spans.
  • Keep it Relevant: Make sure the questions you do ask are well thought out and will ultimately provide insight into your overall objective.
  • Ask Open-Ended Questions: Multiple choice questions are fine for some of the survey, but be sure to include opened ended questions, too. These answers often provide an opportunity to better understand the customer’s thoughts and experience.
  • Don’t Skew the Answers: This is done all the time with customer satisfaction surveys, and ultimately doesn’t help. How often have you heard, “If you’ve had a good experience with us please complete our survey. We appreciate all 10s! And if you weren’t completely satisfied please contact me first so I can fix it so you will provide all 10s…..” Often employee bonuses or ratings are tied to survey responses, which is good in theory, but when it gets to the point that they’re “coaching” the customer on how to answer it doesn’t provide the accurate, honest feedback you were hoping (and paying) to gather.

Social Media: Monitoring and gathering information through social media can be an enlightening and cost-effective way to get feedback. Monitor Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or wherever you have a presence. What are customers saying about your brand or your products? What are they passionate about? Are there any problems you need to respond to?

Website Analytics and User Activity: If you’re not closely monitoring your website analytics and your customer activity you should be, because that’s valuable insight right at your fingertips. If you’re overwhelmed by the amount of data and unsure how to interpret it, ask someone who does. How are customers finding you online? How long do they stay on each page? Studying this information is a way of listening to feedback, because you see what caught their attention, what bored them to pieces and made them leave a page, where they clicked, etc. You’re listening to what they’re saying without them having to say it.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Ways to Gather Customer Feedback, which explains four additional ways to gather customer feedback….


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