Why customer feedback is important
Before getting into the nitty gritty, the first thing to understand is why customer feedback is so important as a marketing tool. Some of this might seem obvious, but it’s surprising how many small-business owners overlook the value of customer feedback in formulating their marketing strategies, so we’ve put together a list of some key benefits of receiving feedback from your customers:
1. Understanding your customers – knowing where your customers are coming from in terms of their motivations and experiences can help you to position your business as a solution to their needs.
2. Encouragement and improvement – being able to see what you’re doing right is just as important as knowing which aspects of your business could be improved, so that you can focus on fine-tuning problem areas while ensuring that you retain all the things that keep people coming back.
3. Communication channels – learning how your customers prefer to interact with you (e.g. by phone, email, letter, Facebook or Instagram) means you can tailor your marketing so it reaches people in the most effective way possible.
4. Building trust – referrals and testimonials have more impact in converting potential customers than a hundred e-shots; people are far more likely to trust you if they can see positive reviews and recommendations.
Ways of collecting feedback
Now that you know why it’s important, how can you collect it? There are lots of different ways, but we’ve found that these ones are among the most effective:
1. Surveys – whether they’re on paper or online*, you can use surveys to check in with your customers about many aspects of your business, from delivery times to the range of products available and whether your customer service was up to scratch.
It’s best to stick to 10 questions or fewer since customers are less likely to fill in a lengthy survey, and you can try offering a thank you gift – like a freebie or a discount on the next purchase – as an incentive to participate.
2. Face-to-face – this can be a tricky one as people are sometimes reluctant to give negative feedback in person. Offering customers a feedback form with an incentive to fill it out is a good way to get around this, particularly if they can do so anonymously.
3. Request testimonials – asking clients to send you a quick email or note summarising their experience can be an effective way of collecting feedback.
4. Questionnaires at trade shows and exhibitions – people are generally receptive to answering questions in these settings (whether they’re current or potential customers), although try to keep questionnaires fairly brief so that people aren’t rushing to get to the end.
5. Third-party companies – there are lots of companies that you can hire to collect feedback on your behalf, and although this can be expensive they generally produce excellent results and can save you a lot of time.
*SurveyMonkey is a great free online survey tool.
Making use of feedback
Now that you have it, what do you do with it? Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
1. Marketing literature – including quotes and figures you have obtained through customer feedback is a great way to back up your claims, as it shows that your customers have verified what you’re saying about your business: ‘99% of our customers would recommend our products to a friend’.
2. Social media – quoting positive feedback on social media platforms gives potential customers confidence and gives you a wider variety of material to use in your posts.
3. E-shots – using a brief, snappy quote as a footer or sign-off leaves potential customers with a positive impression of your business: ‘Since working with The Marketing Club our sales have gone through the roof!’
Hopefully this blog has given you a rough idea of the ways in which you can use customer feedback to help grow your business. If you would like to learn more about getting the most out of this valuable resource, check out our workshop for advice and tips from our trained marketing experts: ‘The importance of customer feedback – how to collect it and use it.’