Collecting customer feedback is an excellent way for entrepreneurs to determine both the strengths and weaknesses of their product or service. The feedback received should guide future training programs as well as product development strategies.
Understanding the appropriate ways to use that feedback is crucial, whether it be positive or negative. When reputable companies receive negative feedback, they often go to great lengths to try to retain their good name and clients’ loyalty by addressing concerns. When companies receive positive feedback, however, they sometimes fail to see the opportunity to capitalize on it and subsequently miss out on an opportunity to leverage that feedback into establishing relationships with new clients. Positive feedback is a powerful asset to any business that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Ensuring you effectively leverage good feedback will help make sure you’re pulling on an easy -- but important -- lever in your customer acquisition strategy. Below are some tips on how to do so:
Some forms of feedback, such as online reviews, require little to no effort on your behalf to attain. The positive reviews may be somewhat useful, but they tend to be brief. While these types of reviews are great to have, the kind of positive feedback that’s particularly useful from a marketing and messaging perspective requires some additional work to collect.
Here are three recommended strategies to improve the quality and depth of the customer feedback you receive:
- Develop survey questions that delve deeper. The goal of customer surveys is to gather targeted information. Ask both rating-oriented and open-ended questions that specifically focus on why individuals chose your product or service. Multiple-choice questions or rating systems make quantification easy but can reflect your assumptions, whereas free-response questions can provide surprising insights that you may not have thought to ask about. Ideally, you should be able to leverage both quantifiable data -- like how many of your customers would recommend you -- and subjective data -- like the specific problems that made customers seek you out and how you helped solve them.
- Invite customers to speak about their experiences. People generally enjoy telling their own stories, and conversations with your customers -- possibly filmed or recorded for later review -- will allow you to learn fresh, unexpected details. Watch stories unfold as these individuals talk about their experiences with your product or service. (You may note subtle reactions that escape even the customers themselves.) Large companies tend to invest heavily in customer focus groups because they inevitably learn new information about why consumers chose them and how they use their product or service that will impact both how the company markets its product as well as future modifications or enhancements that need to be made to the product itself.
- Determine what dazzled the customer. When it’s clear that a customer has had a pleasant experience, pinpoint specific elements that pleased him or her. For instance, if an individual says he or she enjoyed the meal, ask about his or her favorite part. Perhaps it was the food itself or maybe it was the ambience of the restaurant or the attentiveness of the staff. Asking these sorts of follow-up questions will help you identify the aspects that make your business stand out from others.
Once you’ve obtained detailed positive feedback, the next step is to turn those comments into action items for your company. This effort extends beyond simply enhancing your website with quotes from satisfied clients. Aim instead to refine both your messaging and your offering with customer narratives.
- Compile feedback that communicates the bigger picture. Assess your survey results and highlight the statistics that will communicate mass appeal. For example, sharing the fact that 95 percent of your customers would recommend your barbecue joint to a friend suggests that few people walk away from your business dissatisfied. Moreover, include several specific and detailed customer quotes that explain why these people liked the barbecue; this will increase the likelihood that others will wish to try it, as well. A quote such as, “The ribs were mouth-watering, and the meat slid right off the bone,” resonates much more than one that says, “This place is great.” The more specific the customer feedback, the more convincing it is and the more likely it resonates with your would-be consumers.
- Adjust your offerings. When my company discovered that nearly every client’s favorite aspect of our business was the extent to which the service was individualized to their specific needs, we developed new ways to further customize the experience we offered. Without this detailed feedback, we might have focused on completely unrelated product enhancements that our customers wouldn’t have appreciated as much.
- Tell stories. Many people like hearing stories as much as they like telling them. Stories will only be effective, however, if they involve some depth. For instance, a hotel review that solely states, “We had a good stay!” explains very little. Try to gather backstories when compiling testimonials to help your readers personally relate to the experience of previous customers. Maybe the hotel guest was in town for his or her daughter’s wedding and the amenities and location of the hotel wowed the out-of-town guests and helped cement the most memorable and rewarding weekend the parents of the bride had ever experienced. The emotion in that customer’s story will make the prospect of staying at that hotel more compelling to prospective clients than a generic “We had a great stay.” Video testimonials offer a particularly compelling way to tell stories as they tend to be far more detailed and seeing a real-life customer can help create an emotional connection to prospective clients.
- Leverage social proof. If you receive a positive review from an objective source or an award from public votes, use it. Lou Malnati’s, which has been voted the best pizza in Chicago, leveraged that feedback to increase its visibility in the entire metropolitan area. The pizza parlor announces its awards across multiple platforms: its Google search listing, its website and in the media. Customers are looking for objective third-party validation that proves they can trust you, so build your credibility by gaining the endorsements of third-party “experts.” To thrive in a competitive market, you must understand and highlight your company’s strengths. One critical method to better understand those strengths is to carefully listen to your customers and use what you hear to strengthen your business strategy and marketing message. When you do so, you better position your organization to attract new customers and grow.
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