Whether you are looking for a fresh way to approach your target market or additional products or services to sell to your current customer base or you simply want to keep your finger on the pulse of customer satisfaction, having formal, consistent outreach to your customers soliciting their feedback is crucial to growing your business. While there are dozens of good reasons for knowing what is on the minds of your customers, here are seven important benefits that business owners can gain from customer comments and testimonials.
Having a process for collecting customer comments and testimonials demonstrates your commitment to listening and your openness to dialog. It signals to staff members that customer feedback matters and that any instances of surpassing or disappointing customer expectations is likely to be noticed by management.
Another gain to be had when systematically inviting and gathering customer feedback is that the benefits the customers speak to (what is it about your products and/or services that has helped them) is more likely to be the benefits that will resonate with and attract future customers. Listen for the priority and value they give to particular products and services. It may point to changes that would make your marketing messages more powerful.
No matter your products, services or industry; it is commonplace to have marketing materials, website content, fulfillment letters, etc. that are plagued with an overuse of jargon, acronyms, and phrases of murky generalities. The third benefit of customer feedback is the opportunity to listen closely to the vocabulary your customers use and use that language to replace the hackneyed phrases and jargon. Your messaging will be resuscitated, crisp, specific and, most importantly, more appealing to future customers.
The fourth benefit of consistent customer feedback is that customer ideas and suggestions can help you profitably expand your portfolio. It is easier and more profitable to sell to existing customers than to try to sell to new customers, so who better than existing customers to provide ideas on how you might encourage repeat business by adding to the current product and service offering?
The thoughts and comments collected from your customers is excellent fodder for blog and website content. Prospects visiting your website or blog are probably keenly interested in what others have to say about your products and services. Also, regularly updating your blog and website with new content is attractive to the search engines and will start to boost your organic ranking. Customer feedback may result in new key words for your site to focus on.
The sixth benefit of customer feedback is the opportunity to transform a customer of convenience into a raving fan. If you get feedback that a customer had less than a stellar experience, addressing it promptly and with sincerity goes a long way in salvaging the relationship with the customer and may be the needed attention (as well as internal correction) to allow that lukewarm customer to become an advocate. Also, if the dissatisfaction is not an isolated incident, and turns out to be a systemic flaw that led to a negative, it serves an early alert to something you can fix – perhaps preventing other customers from having the same problem.
The final benefit is that frequent negative feedback from a single customer that is unreasonable and not due to a product flaw, may indicate that this is a customer that needs to be fired or urged to find another alternative. There are some people that you will not be able to make happy and if they are a toxic customer (and toxic customers do exist) it could be that the time has come to say enough’s enough and that it’s in everyone’s best interest to sever the relationship.
In order to begin your program, there are four core questions to be asked: What spurred you to begin looking for the product/service? Why did you choose us? What benefits have you seen since purchasing our product/service? What could we do better? All of these questions are open-ended which allow the customer to express what is important to them (versus ranking items on a scale that may or may not be important to the customer). There is a great article by the Idea Lady that suggests printing similar questions up on a card to give customers. When you receive their comments, let the respondent know that their comments have been read and thank them for taking the time. When employees are praised, recognize the employee. If action is required, let the customer know what you intend to do and when you intend to do it. Encourage ongoing communication. By putting this simple process in place, you will soon see positive results in your business.