You can’t overstate the importance of customer feedback. It is vital for businesses of any size. Small businesses, however, are in a unique position to use this feedback to keep their business growing and profitable.
Figuring out how to collect customer feedback and use it regularly in your business can be a challenge. Remember, don’t view feedback as a personal attack on your company or practices. Instead, use the feedback as an honest opinion, so you can continue to improve and hone your product or service. Below we discuss the importance of customer feedback and the different ways you can collect and use it.
Why is customer feedback important?
When looking at the importance of customer feedback, it’s essential to consider all of the uses for feedback. For example, feedback can help you improve your products, launch a new service to fill a gap, address use cases, engage with customers, and more.
Considering the volume of feedback is also important when answering the question of why is feedback important. The more quality feedback you have to incorporate, the better your results for your small business.
Improve your products or service
One of the big things most people think of when talking about the importance of customer feedback is how it can improve what you offer through your business. Whether that’s luxury candles online or bookkeeping for local companies, there’s always room for improvement based on customer feedback.
So why is feedback important for your product or service? It tells you how customers actually use your products, what they wish your service offered or changes they think you should make, why they picked you over a competitor and other vital clues. With this kind of product feedback, you can perfect what you offer.
Build customer relationships
The importance of customer feedback is seen through your connection with your customers. Everyone has an opinion. Being asked to share that opinion and seeing it incorporated in your business or getting a response from you, helps people feel like a part of your small business.
Often, this use of feedback shows customers how valuable they are to your small business, and you may even see increased responses when you ask for feedback for this purpose.
Gathering customer feedback is also a great way to drive engagement, and build your social media accounts and email lists. Whether you run your own e-commerce site or sell on an online marketplace like Etsy, asking for customer feedback will drive interaction with your company.
Surveys, polls, and certain contests rely on people’s desire to give their opinion or share their style on your social media. Use these tools for insights into how your product is being used and to build your email list and social media accounts with consumers interested in what you’re selling. Both of these are extremely helpful in the long-term growth of your business.
Customer feedback is a great source of testimonials, a vital element of social proof. Most potential customers will look up your company and reviews before they purchase. Social proof can verify the quality of your product and customer service.
Seeing good things written by other customers can only help your small business. Testimonials do have specific rules around them, so ensure you have permission to use them.
Remain connected to the market
If your growing business is new, keeping in touch with the market is vital to your long-term success. Your customers offer a unique opportunity to make sure you’re following market trends that matter to your business.
This aspect of feedback gives you the opportunity to stay ahead of trends. You may want to focus on your regular loyal customers when gathering this type of feedback due to their experience.
How customer feedback be collected and used?
The most important thing with how you collect and use customer feedback is consent. You want to be perfectly clear about what customers are commenting on and that their comments may be used within your business to improve your services or products.
How customer feedback can be collected and used also depends on the method you use to collect the feedback. Some methods are more conducive to in-depth feedback, while others may gather data points. The best approach to collecting and using customer feedback is to try a variety of options.
Surveys are a mainstay of gathering customer feedback, and using them has never been easier. Printed surveys are great for storefronts where customers can leave them in a suggestion box. While online surveys can be printed on receipts, sent through email, and posted on your social media accounts.
The key thing with surveys is that you tailor your questions for the larger whole, so the data is considered altogether. Don’t try to answer every question about your business in a survey. Instead, you might use a survey to gather feedback on a new aspect of your service or changes you’re making to a product.
Digital feedback forms
Digital feedback forms are one of the most significant changes to how customer feedback can be collected in recent years. Now, it’s easy to add a brief digital feedback form to every customer interaction, website page, and marketing message. These can be actual questions or something as simple as a three smiley face rating scale about their experience.
With feedback forms, each question is meant to gather data on something specific, but they do not relate to a whole. For example, you might receive a feedback form at a restaurant asking about the service, quality of the food, and whether the experience met your expectations. You can use the same idea to assess different areas of your business or customer experience.
Social media metrics tend to focus on engagement, so the platforms often offer a variety of tools you can use to gather important customer feedback. Almost any platform your company uses likely has standard poll options, ways for users to answer questions, and more.
With social media, you can immediately see feedback data with the platforms’ built-in analysis tools. However, you want to use these tools sparingly, as they can both affect your metrics for the social media algorithm and provide skewed data since the people on your company’s social media pages may or may not be your customers.
Reviews are great sources of customer feedback since people leaving them tend to either love or strongly dislike the company or service. Every business should check their reviews as often as possible and at least monthly. They are a fantastic way of gathering qualitative feedback, as well as quashing small problems before they grow.
You can use customer reviews to identify strengths and weaknesses within your small business. You can also use reviews to boost employee morale in the company. But again, make sure and tackle any negative reviews as soon as possible. Many customers will update their reviews if they get a good response from the company.
Customer service interactions
Interactions with you or your team members are a fantastic opportunity to collect feedback. Whether you’ve designed the next innovative app or you’re selling candy, when your customers call, it’s usually with a problem. Taking these calls as feedback is a great way to improve your services.
In order to use your customer service interactions, you may need to develop a system or train team members to record positive and negative customer interactions. Only then can you identify frequent problems or wished-for features from your customers.
Email is a great tool, and it regularly beats many of the other channels you reach customers through in terms of engagement. You have multiple opportunities to use email to gather important customer feedback, from links to surveys to encouraging replies to open-ended questions.
Generally, people who open your company’s emails and take the time to reply either use your products or are inclined to if they do not already. This fact makes email a great place to gather customer feedback on existing features, test the idea of new ones, and provide an exclusive avenue for your customers.
Point of sale
One of the last places you may think of when asking for feedback is your point-of-sale system. Many e-commerce systems now offer built-in features that allow you to ask feedback questions right after a transaction.
This kind of customer feedback is great for fine-tuning operations and ensuring your team is providing consistent service. Usually, this type of feedback takes the form of a single question, so your small business should use other methods for more in-depth feedback.
Other considerations to remember
Customer feedback is important to every size of business. However, there are several considerations you should look into before you start gathering feedback.
Not every method is right for every business, so do some research to find out what might work best for you.
Incentives are an excellent way to convince more people to provide feedback, but you also have to plan carefully for them. Most often, an incentive for filling out a survey comes from your budget, so you need to make sure it’s feasible and worth the expense.
If you plan to do a prize drawing people can enter if they provide feedback, you should also check your local laws. Unfortunately, more than one small business has ended up in legal trouble by running giveaways improperly.
Online marketplace rules
If you sell online, particularly physical products, you must also be aware of the rules of that marketplace. Some websites will request feedback on your behalf, others will let you include a card in your products, and others ban the practice altogether.
Reviews in particular are a problem for many websites. Generally, you cannot incentivize reviews, and you cannot request a five-star review. However, many sites allow you to request honest feedback.
Privacy has become increasingly important as privacy laws emerge in places like California and the European Union. If your service has customers in these regions or you ship products to them, you need to consider their privacy laws.
Unfortunately, these laws can affect how you can collect and store customer feedback. Some provisions may require you to anonymize feedback before analysis, while others won’t let you collect names at all. Therefore, checking the laws governing where you operate is imperative.
In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also governs some forms of customer feedback. Anything left publicly, such as a product review, cannot be edited, become part of a script, or incentivized without risking potential consequences.
If you’re using a public forum, make sure your company remains compliant with these laws. Additionally, if you think you might use some of your customer’s feedback for testimonials at a later time, you may want to investigate these guidelines.
Keep it simple
The more complex you make the mechanism, questions, and submission method, the fewer people will complete the feedback form. By keeping it simpler and more accessible, you will get more information.
The issue with keeping things short and simple is that you may miss beneficial data for your company. Therefore, when you consider what information you want, it’s important to consider how much data you need.
Wrapping up the importance of customer feedback
How you collect and use important customer feedback for your small business will vary. However, developing methods to gain feedback is necessary to continuously improve your company and hone your product to meet your market’s needs. Your small business may fall behind and fail to stand out in your niche without that.
From surveys to social media, you may already have many available tools to use for your small business. You can use these tools to gather feedback data for analysis quickly and change what you collect as needed.
With the market and customer expectations constantly changing, good customer feedback is a key tool to help your company remain in the market.
Do you use customer feedback in your small business? Let our readers know below if you have a unique way that works for you and your team.