When a young child learns to play piano, constructive feedback is a critical part of the process. To improve his or her performance, they need to know whether they’re doing things the right way.
The same goes for business. If you want to succeed, you need to know whether you’re doing the right things, the right way. Who better to give that feedback than your customers?
There are many direct - and indirect - ways to find out exactly what your customers think about your business. Here are some of them.
INDIRECT FEEDBACK - Feedback You Don’t Ask For
Some of the most valuable feedback you’ll get is the kind you don’t ask for.
- Analytics – A careful look at Google Analytics will show you the path customers take as they travel through your site. It shows the pages that sent them running, and those that converted them. In the hands of a good user experience designer, this kind of information can help you tweak your page for optimal conversion and customer satisfaction. Give them more of what they want, and less of what they don’t want. Make the journey simple and have it speak to their needs. Get rid of the fluff and extra static to streamline your customer’s experience..
- Social Listening – Ever overhear a few colleagues sharing what they really think of you? Just like that … the most candid feedback you’ll find comes from conversations that take place between two or more people, on social media. Whether you use a simple Twitter search or something sophisticated like Brandwatch, you’ll find plenty of customer feedback by combing through the chatter. Think of it as a digital version of the office watercooler.
DIRECT FEEDBACK - Feedback You Do Ask For
While behavioral analytics and social monitoring can draw a pretty good outline of what your customers think about you, you still need direct feedback to paint a more comprehensive picture.
- Usability Tests – Are you rolling out a new feature, page, or product in the next few weeks? A limited usability test is an invaluable way to iron out the kinks before showing it to the world. Does the word “usability” sound complicated? It shouldn’t. The process is really simple: open your new project to a limited number of people and give them the means to document their experience. At the end of the test, take what you’ve learned and use it to improve your initiative and create its final form.
- Live Chat – Jump over to Vanilla's homepage, and you’ll find a large pink button at the bottom left that says Live Chat. That magic button (one of our favorites) gives every visitor an opportunity to reach out to us, at any time. It's an easy way to invite engagement and, more importantly, gain important feedback on elements of our site or services that may be unhelpful or unclear.
- Feedback Box – Just like the live chat box, a feedback box gives users a specific place to provide instant feedback on their experience. If you look at Verizon’s residential page, for example, you’ll find a white feedback button stuck to the right side of your screen. Their box design is a little hidden, and the survey a little clunky, but it gives you a clear idea of how this can work. Show customers where to put feedback, and you shall obtain feedback!
- Satisfaction Survey – Ask and you shall receive. On a regular basis, send out a satisfaction survey to your past customers. Not too frequently, of course, but on a regular schedule within reason. To that end, a little incentive never hurt. Perhaps you could offer a discount on future purchases or maybe even a cash prize! Retail stores do this kind of thing all the time. Just check out the bottom of your receipt next time you pay for your groceries. I bet you’ll see something like “Fill out our survey for your chance to win $1000.” Follow your grocer’s lead, and you’ll have customer satisfaction surveys filling up your inbox in no time!
So what’s the moral of the story? Customer feedback matters. A lot. If you want to run your business at maximum efficiency, you need to take your customers' temperatures constantly. These six methods will help you get the important feedback you need to pump up customer experience and boost profits.
I’d love to hear some ideas you’ve implemented for gathering customer feedback. Share what’s worked for you by leaving a comment below.