7 best ways to encourage customer feedback
Honest customer feedback empowers companies with in-depth knowledge of their customers’ decision-making choices.
Client feedback can be collected via various channels. Feedback boxes, surveys, and social media engagement are some of the many possible feedback methods available. Constant feedback information gathering is vital in maintaining a competitive edge, as it enables businesses to tailor their services and products to shifting customer requirements. This article discusses some of these methods, but the list is not exhaustive. The approaches mentioned here can be used either individually or collectively, depending on the business model and industry.
1. Encouraging clients to give Feedback
Client feedback is gold dust to businesses. Research shows that for every formal complaint made to management, there will be 25 other dissatisfied customers who have not voiced their opinions, who in turn will tell 10 more people each, who will each tell five more, leading to the ‘Customer Complaint Iceberg’ as represented by TARP Research.
Gathering every scrap of customer complaints is therefore absolutely vital. As this article in the Harvard Business Review states, ‘you can’t fix problems you don’t know you have’. The vast majority of customers do not want to deal with the effort of voicing their opinions, positive or negative, and need considerable stimulus to encourage that crucial action to take place. Physical stores may display signage in prominent locations, demonstrating to the consumer the importance the business places on client feedback to the consumer, and providing instant and low-effort opportunities for feedback. E-commerce organizations can utilize banners on their websites to the same effect. Live support teams play pivotal roles in fielding front-line client concerns, and can elicit feedback as they navigate customers through the website. Additionally, end-of-session prompts for experience analysis give valuable opportunities to garner information for user satisfaction.
2. Feedback Boxes
Physical feedback boxes are one of the most basic, effective methods of data response collection. They are one of the most widely used and accessible response-gathering tools to any organization, from a painted cereal box with a slot cut into it on a child’s lemonade stand to a high-security anonymous polling booth in an election. A standard box is cost-effective, and simple to set up and monitor. The feedback box should also be secure in that only authorized personnel can open it to read the notes forwarded by clients. This ensures that all feedback reaches top management, especially in complaint cases where affected employees may be tempted to destroy the information for fear of punishment. It should be noted that feedback boxes are not ‘complaint boxes’. Assessing and recognizing positive client experiences is just as important as acting on negative ones. The management should monitor the feedback received in this way so that issues raised are addressed promptly, and returning clients who give feedback find that it is implemented.
Surveys should be used as an auxiliary to other methods. They involve asking clients to fill in a feedback form, either by hand or electronically. They should contain short and specific questions. Where applicable, open ended questions should be employed to allow clients to provide creative suggestions that the organization can capitalize on to improve the customer experience.
Types of surveys include:
- Mobile surveys
- Telephone surveys
- Behavioral insight surveys
- Customer Surveys
4. Reaching Out Personally
One of the most effective feedback collection methods is also often the most neglected: personal, direct response. It may be done by phone, email, and face to face sessions. Direct interaction with the client allows then to articulate their issues with greater ease and fluidity. It opens the opportunity for the business to clarify responses in real time, as well as allowing for in-depth discussion on proposals made. In the event that face-to-face interaction is not possible, a phone call offers similar opportunities. The underlying concept is that the client is given the opportunity to express their feelings and opinions. Emails are a tertiary method, though the response rate can be a challenge.
5. Social Media
All companies can potentially benefit from social media feedback tools, but particularly those targeting the youth and the middle-classes. Their clients are online most of the time, and can be engaged on a myriad of issues, including the quality of the services rendered by the company. Feedback received in these fora can form an important exchange platform. Importantly, the communication loop can be two or three way: client to supplier, supplier to client, and client to client. It is the company’s job to monitor and manage this so that as many feedback threads as possible are positively reinforcing. It’s a commonly recognized fact that the most difficult complaint is often the best opportunity to turn a dissatisfied customer into a raving fan, through better-than-expected response and management. These success stories in turn have a positive effect on other clients, often more effective than simple endorsement or advertising.
6. Focus Groups
For organizations with a bigger budget, focus groups can provide useful feedback, especially prior to launching new products or services. They involve facilitator-moderated group discussions to gather clients’ feedback about a service or a product prior to market introduction. Focus groups can be replicated across different geographical locations to gather more representative responses.
7. Usability test
Companies in the IT industry gather end user feedback utilizing Usability tests prior to launching a product or a service. Usability testing allows clients to give indirect feedback on issues they are not aware they are struggling with. For instance, to test the usability of a website, the researcher may monitor and record how a client navigates the website to achieve a given objective. This feedback can then be used to improve the user experience and ensure they achieve the objectives with ease. However, Usability testing is not restricted to IT companies and can be employed successfully in other industries to monitor and give feedback on a users’ interactions with the company’s products or services.
Bottom Line Client Feedback
Client feedback is a valued business asset that should be capitalized on by any organization to ensure it maintains its competitive advantage. However, receiving feedback is only half the story. Acting on feedback received is what keeps most businesses going and enables them to develop products that benefit their clients. While there exist many different methods of collecting feedback, each business should examine the possibilities at its disposal based on the budget involved and the effectiveness of such methods. Finally, clients should be encouraged to give feedback at every available opportunity and without victimization or other negative effects. Companies should also frequently check their reviews on various platforms such as social media, and address all issues raised whether negative or positive. Such feedback should also be documented and tracked for future reference.
Tags: Customer Feedback