Getting an understanding of what customers think about your company, product, customer service, or website experience is essential. After all, it is their needs that you are trying to cater for. They are the ones who pay your bills.
The mantra “happy wife, happy life” applies to your business, too: happy customers result in your company’s success. Therefore, it is important that you listen to what they have to say about your business, even though it can be painful sometimes.
Before you start, though, you need to have a clear idea on why you need your customers’ feedback. Is your goal to improve your service? To deliver a better customer experience? To onboard new customers? Or is it to strengthen the relationship between customers and your company? There could be many other reasons, it really depends on your company’s specific needs. And then, which channel will you use to collect the data and what will you do in concrete with the new insights? Defining these objectives before you start and keep them in mind throughout the whole process, will help you stay on track with your goals and avoid wasting time and resources.
You might be wondering now – Is customer feedback important for all of the companies, or is it only useful for certain types of businesses? Well, according to Forbes, it all comes down to the company’s current stage. It is pretty straightforward: newly established companies might need feedback to better tailor their products or services to their customers’ needs, while corporations and organizations in their late growth or maturity stages focus on different challenges, e.g. continue to meet current clients’ expectations.
There’s more, though. In recent years, especially due to technological progress which allows more and faster interactions, consumers have been empowered: they can freely express their opinions on your business and make it public. Hence, even though the saying goes, “For every customer who bothers to complain, 20 other customers remain silent”, a dissatisfied customer on social media can seriously damage your company’s reputation because it spreads quickly, just like rumors in high-school. They go viral.
Let’s look at the bright side of technology, though! For instance, through social media you can get to know your customers to an extent that was not achievable with old-fashioned channels and build a strong relationship with them. In fact, establishing a two-way communication with your customers, allows you to efficiently and effectively co-create the company’s identity (i.e. how YOU define your company and what your CUSTOMERS believe it is: these two need to be aligned) as well as the products and services. Customers can become your best partners and collaborators.
Let’s take start-ups into consideration. Without a doubt, customer feedback is a potential gold mine for start-ups and their growth. In fact, in most of the case, they still need to figure out how to jump-start their operations, achieve a successful product-market fit, and what is the best way to cater to their customers. Here feedback comes into play, as Paul Graham, author of the essay “Do things that don’t scale”, writes, “I have never once seen a start-up lured down a blind alley by trying too hard to make their initial users happy.”.
Customer feedback is not only beneficial for start-ups, though. For instance, the worldwide known company LEGO is notoriously customer-oriented and has been able to enhance its product offerings – while keeping its fixed costs down – by involving their most knowledgeable product users in research and development activities.
Getting your customer’s feedback is no easy job, I reckon. It is likely that only very unsatisfied clients bother to share their (negative) experiences with a company.
How can you change that and increase your company’s goodwill?
An effective way to collect feedback is by providing customers with dedicated forms on your website where they can type down what they like or think should be improved. A good moment to do it would be when the customer has a question, because this creates a sense of reciprocity and “giving-back”. Furthermore, you can let them know how their feedback has been used and perhaps how your company has improved thanks to it.
Here’s a good example from minted.com:
Lastly, we all know prevention is better than cure. According to an Aberdeen Group research, online shoppers prefer live chats over other service channels and 44 percent of them feel it is the best feature e-commerce websites can possibly offer. Therefore, 24/7 live chats, such as crowdio.com can help you get closer to your customers and guide them throughout the whole purchase process. This is due to them being more convenient than phone calls (also in terms of wait time), less frustrating and require less work for the user. This is a great way to avoid having angry customers who rant on your social media pages.