Have you ever tried a new recipe, and when you excitedly ask your best friend how it tastes, they only say, “Great!”
Does it really, or are they just being nice? Why is it so hard to get an honest answer?
This is a question that also plagues the minds of small business owners. Getting honest customer feedback can be like pulling teeth.
The right recipe of using the right channels, offering incentives, and making it fast and easy for your customers to do so, lets you receive the honest feedback you have been craving.
Why you need honest feedback from your customers
How are you ever going to perfect your paella recipe if no one is being honest with you? You can’t, and the same goes for small businesses. The right feedback about your products or services lets you focus on your customers and their needs, so your business can succeed.
Here are some examples of honest feedback that could help improve business:
Example: “I am lactose-intolerant, but my children love your ice cream shop and we visit frequently during the summer months. Unfortunately, I can’t eat anything on your menu.”
- Improvement: You could add some dairy-free ice cream options to your menu.
Example: “My family loves to shop local, so we tried your small grocery market for the first time this Saturday. Unfortunately, the lines were so long that we had to walk out.”
- Improvement: You could hire more staff for the Saturday shift to expedite the check out process.
Example: “I hired your Laundromat Company to help my elderly mother with her laundry. She only speaks Spanish, and she said it was hard to communicate with the people who came to pick up her clothes.”
- Improvement: You could add more bilingual staff members to your team. Or, you could send your current staff members to take a language course to learn the most prevalent languages in your community.
Taking action in response to customer feedback will not only improve your products and services, but it will also increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. When customers know you care, they’re more likely to care about your business too.
Tip: When a customer gives you feedback, explain how you plan to solve their issue. Thank them for the feedback, letting them know you hear them loud and clear. You could even send them a gift card to your business to express your gratitude.
How to obtain honest feedback from your customers
How do you know what your customers need? As long as you are using the correct channels, finding the answer can be as easy as asking.
Getting honest feedback may be tough because it takes time out of a customer’s day. This is why you must make the process as easy and as fast as possible. It also helps to offer an incentive along with your request for feedback. The incentive could be a discount or complimentary product or service from your business.
Here are some of the best channels to ask for reviews and feedback from your customers:
Do you have customers that you would feel comfortable giving a call and talking to one-on-one? These relationships that you have already built will be the cream of the crop when it comes to getting honest customer feedback. Also, a phone call is very personal, and the more personal you can make an experience the better.
If you already have a solid database of customer emails then you are ahead of the game. Using email marketing to collect customer feedback can be very effective, especially when you combine it with a survey or poll. This way, customers can provide feedback with little effort and do it at their own pace.
Depending on your social media presence, it can be a great way to engage and communicate with customers. Also, most business pages on social media are connected with a review section, where customers can provide feedback quickly and easily. Here’s how to do it on Facebook.
There are many sites that customers use to leave reviews on their own, but there is no reason why you can’t push customers to those sites to leave feedback. Add a section into your monthly email newsletter prompting customers to head to a popular review site such as Google to leave feedback. Here’s how to set up those reviews.
Take the good with the bad
The hardest aspect of collecting honest feedback is accepting criticism. Chances are, you’re going to get some less-than-ideal reviews. Also, review sites can become a place for angry customers to vent about their bad experience without holding back.
Even though you can come across some harsh reviews, it is important to not take them personally and focus on how to fix them. Make sure you respond to those people and let them know how you will address the situation. Keep in mind that this feedback could be critical to your business.
Helping your customers helps your business
When collecting feedback it’s important to remember that customers have the same goal as you: improving your business.
If customers want to share their feelings about your business, let them, because it will make their next experience better. Make it easy for them to communicate with you and once the feedback starts pouring in, use it to grow your business.