It’s a very valid question to ask anyone that’s been running a business for a while, do you really listen to your customers? Some of you are saying “yes of course we do!” but it’s something we’re all guilty of on occasion.
We don’t necessarily have the time to listen to every single customer issue, debate, or quibble if we are doing our best to try and get our company off the ground, or we’ve had a particularly difficult month. The last thing we want to hear is a customer complaint against us for something that is so frightfully trivial, that you feel dealing with it is a complete waste of time.
However, this is a poor attitude to have, because while we are doing everything we can to make our products appeal, our marketing to soar, and our employees to thrive, it will always be the customer’s opinion that will override all of these.
If you operate blindly or even refuse to listen to their opinions, you are asking for trouble. So how can we listen to our customers effectively and with what methods to make the most of our customer’s valid opinion? Let’s have a look.
The Classic Methods
They may be somewhat overlooked in the modern business world but there are plenty of old-school methods you can benefit from by reaching out to the customer and asking for their honest “no holds barred” opinion.
Surveys are still an important part of getting valued customer feedback, it’s just the format of the survey that has changed and become more sophisticated with time.
A company like simplesat.io can help with the survey aspect but also the various ways of analyzing the feedback, including the Net Promoter Score as well as the RATER model. Customer satisfaction surveys have had a bad rep in recent times because they are seen as effortless fluff, that there’s no real weight to the feedback process, but with the increase of text surveys where people can send feedback simply, it still shows that there is a place for the classic survey rating experiences to give honest and potent feedback.
Very underrated in how you can get excellent feedback from customers is the simple method of observing and reporting. It’s not just a great way to find out why they are buying a specific product, but it’s also a useful method to identify specific buying habits.
The technical term is “ethnographic research” which encompasses customer behavior as well as speaking to customers while they are doing the shopping.
Although a customer may find this an invasive method, especially if you are getting up close and personal, but the right person asking the questions is vital to this process being successful.
The personal approach has more advantages than a simple survey with strict questions, but there are ways in which to do it at the point of sale.
Disney is adept at training their employees to gather important data from the customers as they are interacting which is quite an art but this can be done in very simple ways by asking customers about their experience as they are making the purchase.
There are numerous methods for getting feedback through the Internet now, and social media has broken through as the major catalyst for businesses to get immediate and detailed feedback.
The great thing about social media like Twitter and Facebook is that they force businesses to ramp up their customer service skills sharply. And because a customer has had an appalling experience, they are able to name and shame your company instantly and on a platform that thousands, if not millions, of people, can see!
Social media is very much the way to keep your finger on the pulse of the customer opinions, but it’s also a very personal way that they can offer their opinions about your business.
If you are a small company or haven’t been doing this for long, it could not only prove detrimental to your business but could cause you some personal anguish, depending on the nature of the comments.
Customers are going to be vocal about something online, and so if you are serious about making positive changes, you will want to hear from them, so you need to make it very easy for people to get in contact with you.
There are places where emails and web forms come in handy, look at socialtriggers.com for some more information on web forms and where they should go on your web page to maximize response.
You need to make clear the areas of your website where customers can submit feedback, either good or bad, but you also need to show that it will go to an actual person rather than just being submitted into cyberspace.
You need to make the invitation to complain as “human” as possible, and many sites ask for feedback in a more positive language now, more than something like “place feedback here.” It should be something with a bit more feeling.
The Community Methods
Focus groups are a very useful way of getting people from different backgrounds to discuss the services in detail, but if you are unable to do this due to a lack of budget, you can go straight for the open community methods to get direct access to the opinions of your customers. For example, you could encourage a customer to register on your website and fill in as much detail on a web form as possible, giving you a unique insight into that customer.
In essence, they are filling out a profile page, so from there, you can tailor offers to their specific needs or you can get invaluable information on details like demographics and what areas of your market buys what products.
Feedback is a vital part of making your business progress quickly. This is especially prudent if you are a very outset of your business life because you will be operating blindly and it is vital you acquire the most detailed feedback as soon as possible. So by trying a combination of these methods, not only will you get the information you need as a company, but you are also showing the customer you care by actually listening to them!