Customer feedback helps us business owners and marketers understand why our customers are doing what they’re doing and whether you’re able to keep them happy. By communicating directly with them, you can figure out why people are using one feature of your product 3x more than another feature (for example). Encouraging your customers to “give you a piece of their mind”—whether it’s critical or positive—also gives you opportunities to improve your business. If you have a few minutes, I’d like to share with you a few ways for helping your customers feel more comfortable to share their opinions and feedback with you.
1. Feedback Boxes
People want to fix businesses as it pertains to them. But don’t expect a majority of people to tell you how they would like to tackle your business’ faults – or even make you aware of any problems that exist in the first place. This is why feedback forms and feedback boxes are a Godsend when it comes to knowing what the majority of your customers think, and how they actually feel about your business. These forms give customers direct opportunities to tell you exactly how they feel about your business, products and/or services. No holds barred. When you collect enough complaints, insights, opinions, etc., you’ll start to notice certain patterns and trends in the complaint department. This will give you a head’s up that something needs to be changed now.
As a rule of thumb, there are a few general key points you need to remember to make sure your feedback form doesn’t wind up in the trash bin (figuratively and literally):
- Ask fewer, but more specific questions
- Write directly and succinctly
- Avoid “lawyer speak” or industry jargon
- Don’t offer multiple-choice answers to questions; let customers write to you directly in a text box.
- Feedback forms are not marketing tools; do not use these forms to find out information how you can gain new customers – create a separate marketing survey for that
Have someone designated to respond promptly to incoming feedback (no later than 24 hours – any longer and you run the risk of letting people forget what they talked about in the first place). This means replying to each and every single piece of feedback (as daunting as that may seem, it builds good will with your customers and shows them that you truly value what they have to say as a human. This is a rarity in business.) If their initial feedback was unclear, ask for a more detailed description of what results they were hoping for. (And if possible, give them step-by-step directions for using a different feature in your product – one that may have been what they were trying to use in the first place.)
2. Long Surveys
Feedback forms let your customers air their grievances directly with your product or services. Surveys, on the other hand, are used to gauge overall customer satisfaction (thereby giving you opportunities to improve customer experience). Surveys are typically open-ended. Forms are specific, comment-based and direct. With that said, you could give your customers a long or a short survey to know if they are happy.
Both have their positives as well as their drawbacks. Most of us are familiar with long surveys; they’re what we’re used to. They’re comforting (in the survey world), and will make customers feel like they’ve done this a thousand times before. (Which is what you want.) The thing is.. as consumers, we know how much these long surveys eat up. As marketers, we often receive a lot of unfinished surveys or ones that are downright unhelpful.
That’s why a nice, sweet spot is 7-10 number of questions. This gives you plenty of space to ask questions that will help customers paint the “landscape” of feedback you’re looking for. Remember: every question must serve a purpose.
3. Short Surveys
The short survey, on the other hand, is broken down even further to ask a few (no more than five) ultra-specific questions. Asking vague questions yields vague answers – which is fine for the long survey. Short surveys serve a different function: specificity.
One last thing: avoid relying on survey for getting in touch with your customers. Although they’re wonderful for receiving feedback, surveys make it impossible for people to tell you they picked answers they did. (And if you’re building truer, genuine relationships with your customers, isn’t understanding them exactly what you want to do?)
Remember: the main goal of gathering customer feedback is what? To open up direct communication between you and your customers. This is paramount for building the lifetime value of customers, as the “face-to-face” aspects of doing business is steadily decreasing. As this happens, people will begin to feel they’re treated like numbers and dollar signs instead of people (as I often felt whenever I called up my former ISP.)