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Feb 22, 2012 | 17 comments
Running a business without asking your customers’ feedback is like trying to cross a busy street with headphones plugged into your ears while playing Angry Birds on your phone.
If you think customer feedback is only useful for putting out future fires then you are quite mistaken. The customer insights gained from the feedback can reflect very positively on your company’s performance.
Before the Internet and social media there were limited options for collecting customer feedback. Now, a quick email, a Facebook status update or a tweet is all that it takes for them to tell you, and others, how you measure up.
Keep your ears to the ground by implementing these options for collecting customer feedback.
Use contact forms on your website to facilitate an easy exchange of ideas between customers and your organization. Don’t guide the feedback process by allowing customers to answer only a few pre-set questions. It’s in your own interest to keep the feedback as free flowing as possible.
Use a ticket management system in the backend so that every customer contact can be managed and tracked.
An example of a simple feedback form is the one used by Firefox
User forums are one of the most effective ways to know what customers think about your products or services. These forums can be hosted by you or by third parties. Monitor these forums for valuable insights and interact regularly with the other members.
But forums can’t be operated on a fire and forget basis. An absentee moderator or owner is the quickest way to turn an online forum into a dystopian wasteland. A dead forum hosted by you has the same impact as an abandoned social media profile or a crumbling store- none of them inspire buyer confidence.
Depending on what you sell, social networks can be immensely beneficial in engaging with customers and getting feedback. The trick here is to know what social network your customers are active on. Interacting with your market and mining information from social networks is easy to do with a number of tools, both free software and business vendors are available.
A presence on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube is an obvious way to get started. But this is only scratching at the surface. For example, if you are a restaurant you should look at Yelp. If you are a tour company, focus on TripAdvisor.
Live Chat is an important tool for customer feedback. Live chat is the next best thing to talking with a customer on the phone or face to face- you can get targeted feedback in real time.
These days adding live chat functionality to your website is as easy as signing up for an email account. Pick a good solution that comes with features like robust analytics and live chat transfer.
Surveys are also widely used to get customer feedback. Done right, they can uncover a lot of things that you might have overlooked otherwise. Design the questionnaire so that the questions are short and concise. Keep the user informed of the progress made and don’t have hundreds of questions in it.
Some further tips- be upfront about the objectives of the survey and give sufficient incentive for users to participate. At the minimum, create a report out of the results of the survey and gift it to them.
Asking upfront for feedback after the user has completed a call to action can also give you high quality feedback. For example, a good time for an e-commerce site to ask for user feedback would be after the customer has completed a transaction. A restaurant or a call center can ask for feedback after the customer has paid the bill or hung up after a call.
Another time to ask for feedback is when a customer stops buying from you or returns your product. The volume of feedback will be less than in the previous scenario but if you ask for it often you will get information that can help you increase general customer satisfaction.
Do you have a policy of regularly seeking customer feedback? Which option has given you the maximum amount of feedback? Share in the comments below.
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