Just as no man is an island, no business can go it alone. You may have the greatest product or service ever. Yet if your customers don’t see it that way, you’ll sink. Or, to continue the island metaphor, you’ll starve alone with a deflated volleyball as your best friend. Customer experience can make or break your business. Here’s how to solicit customer feedback.
Before we get into the how, let’s first discuss the why. Customer input offers many business benefits. These include:
- Improving products or services
- Understanding customer experience
- Increasing customer satisfaction
- Driving customer retention
- Gaining data to drive business decisions
- Identifying areas that need more investment
The question then is, what’s the best way to gather customer feedback? Next, we’ll offer suggestions. Before we finish, we’ll share some things to avoid too.
How to Solicit Customer Feedback
If you’re lucky, people are lining up to provide great feedback for you. In some cases, though, you need to be a bit more creative — and proactive.
Ask for it — nicely.
According to BrightLocal, 72% of consumers have left a review for a local business after being asked to do so. The Spiegel Research Center at Northwestern also found, “up to 80% of reviews originate from follow-up emails urging shoppers to review their purchases.” Plus, “retailers can expect to see average star ratings increase by prompting buyers to submit reviews.”
All this suggests the easiest way to get customer feedback is to ask for it. Just make sure you do so courteously. Acknowledge that they are taking the time to do something helpful for your brand and other customers.
Meet customers where they are.
Creating a survey that no customer answers isn’t going to do much good. So, you need to communicate to your audience about the survey. Invite their feedback wherever you can.
Post a survey link in a blog post. Make social posts on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Even a funny Instagram post about the joy of answering questions can encourage people to participate.
The more platforms you post to about the survey, the more responses you’re likely to get. A bigger feedback pool can add to the validity of your results.
Offer a reward.
People love to win stuff. Winning something for sharing an opinion? Even better. Especially when their proverbial two cents wins them a $10 gift card or some of your brand swag. Other incentives might include free shipping, discount codes, or product samples.
Research suggests incentives increase response rates on any sort of survey. Monetary incentives, particularly prepaid incentives, are the most likely to increase response rates. Additionally, incentives are good at getting people who might otherwise not have taken the survey to do so.
Keep it simple.
Put a feedback box on your website inviting people to share their experience. If you offer Wi-Fi to customers, ask them a question before granting them public access. Keep the questions short and to the point. Then, be sure to respond quickly to that feedback.
Your company might also set up a comment box onsite. Traditional pen and paper comment cards may be in keeping with your brand’s persona. However, this method isn’t the most cost-effective way to gather input.
Monitor your touchpoints.
Social listening can help you identify your target audience for a call for customer feedback. You might also review recorded sales calls or online chat transcripts to find topics to solicit input about and identify a pool of customers to query.
Other good people to contact to ask for feedback include those who:
- Abandon their online shopping carts
- Purchased an item within the last three to five days
- Had a service done with your business in the last three to five days
- Are onsite at your venue or restaurant and can offer an immediate response
When asking for customer feedback, it’s important to be upfront about the reason you’re asking for the input. You need to know this before you even craft your questions, but sharing the goal with your respondents can also help motivate participation. By helping them see the value of offering an opinion, they are more likely to take the time to actually give their opinion.
What to Avoid in Gathering Reviews
Now that you know how to get customer feedback, let’s wrap up with what you don’t want to do when gathering input and dealing with responses given.
Asking too many questions.
Customers may be willing to offer input when you ask for it. But that doesn’t mean they want to write you a four-page paper. GatherUp surveyed 500 consumers to ask them about their patience for feedback. They found that customers don’t want to answer any more than five questions and that asking too many questions risks:
- Customers abandoning your survey
- Customers becoming annoyed with your brand
- Having your survey become the customer’s last experience with your brand
- Losing repeat survey opportunities
Ignoring the feedback.
There is nothing a customer hates more than offering an opinion that is disregarded. Especially if you’ve asked for that feedback in the first place. Demonstrate that you care about your customer’s perspective. Keep building up that relationship with them by engaging with the feedback.
Acknowledging receipt of the review or survey response is a start, but taking the time to directly address a point made by the customer shows that you cared enough to read and react to what they said or wrote. Closed loop feedback takes your customer experience (CX) to the next level.
Taking constructive criticism is always challenging. Getting feedback that is resoundingly negative is particularly tough. Still, it won’t do you any good to respond defensively. Take a breather, calm down, and then craft a professional and courteous response.
On the bright side, even a negative review is an opportunity for you to show your brand cares. You may even be able to convert a complainer into a brand loyalist if you can impress them with your attention to their concerns. Regardless, that negative review can add credibility to your business (as people doubt a seemingly perfect brand).
Now that you know how to solicit customer feedback, and what to avoid when doing so, your business can benefit. Integrating customer feedback with other data can help you identify trends, find new opportunities, and build better brand relationships.