How can I get the most out of feedback?

For business owners, feedback from customers is often an immediate action that is straight to the point and actionable. Customers might complain about pricing. After multiple missed sales opportunities, business owners might adjust pricing. Maybe a customer suggests your brick and mortar expands inventories. Or maybe customers compliment stores about store cleanliness, or quality assistance of sales people. At this point, business owners know that they are doing something right.

However, for other small and medium sized businesses, collections of customer feedback require additional effort. From written comment forms, to online surveys and telephone feedback, focus groups, customer round tables and more, business owners have employed a wide range of techniques for listening to customers. While this feedback can lead to advantages over the competition, the advantage is from acting upon the feedback, and not from collecting the data alone.

Additionally, customer feedback can assist in uncovering flaws apparent in a business model. It could be anything from prices that are slightly too high, to technical issues with websites or a lack of presence on a review site.

It is important to keep in mind that customers are not overly interested in discounts, financial incentives, or the promise of anonymity to share ideas. Instead, they typically wish only to be respected and heard, and to have their ideas and customer feedback embedded into a company’s strategy and vision.

The strongest customer feedback programs and initiatives (such as those through services such as Makerkit) are highly intuitive. They are also far more effective when the whole enterprise takes the feedback to heart, responding to the true voice of their consumer.

But what about timing?

Timing a proper moment to approach a customer for their feedback can sometimes be a difficult thing. If you bombard your customers with surveys:

As soon as they purchase from an online store, The minute they complete a transaction at a brick and mortar, The second they show up on your homepage,

...then they might be completely turned off to your business and leave, not only denying you a conversion opportunity, but also a chance to receive a loyal customer and some solid consumer feedback.

There are far less invasive opportunities for approaching customers. One option is, after a customer makes a purchase, following up via email requesting some assistance in improving the shopping experience. Another option is to solicit a quick, few question poll when shopping at an e-commerce retailer.

If you are looking to increase return rates of your customers, quickly identify the loyal customers. Upon their return, inquire as to why they came back. A company needs to be both listening to their customers, and observing customer behavior. These two items can assist in making smarter connections with your consumers.