Customer feedback is often one of the most valuable investments a business can make in taking steps to continuously improve their service and customer retention.  While we all love to get those glowing reviews when people see all our hard work and dedication but it is those negative reviews which have the most value.  Those are the times when you, as a business, are able to stand up and stand out in your marketplace as a partner to your customers and truly create respected brand loyalty.

So, with all that said, here are some tips and tricks to create an effective and beneficial customer feedback loop which is minimally invasive to your operations but packs a great punch in value.

1.      How do you create a successful customer feedback loop in your business starting today?

Customer feedback loops come in all shapes and sizes.  From printed postcard mailings following a purchase to sophisticated automated survey e-mails with direct feeds to your website.  It really depends on your company’s goals, budget, and operations.  Here, we will discuss some of the most common and give some tips on how to establish the programs.

 a.       Print Campaigns

A print campaign is typically a postcard or letter sent directly to your customer following the delivery of a product or service.  These methods typically have a small return on investment as they have a high-cost to implement with print costs, staffing costs, postage, and follow-up costs.  However, there is a certain level of professionalism with this method and these can be an effective way of reaching your customers for follow up especially if a call-to-action offer is provided on the feedback card.  Websites such as www.postcardmania.com can assist in establishing these programs easily for you.

b.      E-Mail Campaigns

E-mail campaigns can be a less expensive alternative There are a variety of available options to make the process as seamless as possible.  If you would like to manually manage your program, you can use website such as www.constantcontact.com or www.surveymonkey.com to create standard e-mail messages for your customers and schedule their delivery at your convenience.

There are more advanced options which automate the process a little more, but often require a heavier financial investment.  A great example is AskNicely, www.asknicely.com, or Guild Quality, www.guildquality.com. AskNicely sends an automatic e-mail following your customer’s purchase that requests their feedback for one question (and really the most important one in my opinion), “How likely are you to recommend YOUR BUSINESS NAME to your friends and family?” and provides a 1 to 10 scale.  This question leads to a common metric of measuring your customer satisfaction known as Net Promoter Score or NPR.  This metric has been around for some time and is not the only valuable metric, but one that the industry has standardized and perfected.  You can learn more about NPR by visiting https://www.netpromoter.com/know/.

Guild Quality is a little more hefty in its product offerings.  This option is more expensive but provides a variety of options to fit your business’s specific needs.  One option is an e-mail option and offers you control of the questions you ask the customer.  There is a secondary option that includes an e-mail and phone call service to request feedback from the customer.

c.       Social Feedback

Social media, in all of its facets, can be a valuable and economically beneficial avenue for reaching your customers and potential customers.  There are several places to make your business known and open yourself up for feedback from your market.  Here are three of the most common:

       i.   Facebook – If you have not already created a Facebook page for your business, we highly recommend.  It is no secret that Facebook is still one of the most accessed social media sites for businesses.  In addition, your business Facebook page allows your customers to provide valuable feedback through reviews.

       ii.  Google Reviews – Creating a Google business listing can help increase your SEO and also let your customers provide their feedback through Google Reviews.  You can learn more about setting up a Google business listing here.

       iii.  Yelp – Yelp is one of the more frequented consumer feedback websites on the market.  Reviewers can provide information about the services and products in a business and Yelp keeps the reviews honest as they are unable to be controlled by business owners unless the review contains vulgar and inappropriate content.  Here is an article to learn a little more about Yelp.

 

2.      What is the true value of creating a successful customer feedback loop?

Did you know that only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers actually complain?  That means there are 25 more people who never say a word to you but tell all their friends and family about their poor experiences with a business.  If you are only able to respond and make changes based upon 1 really angry customer, then you are moving into a reactive business management program rather than a proactive program.  It is important to have an effective crisis management plan in place for handling a single angry customer.  It is also important to be proactive about soliciting feedback from your customers and able to make adjustments from the information provided from less frustrated customers who are more inclined to provide constructive assistance.

If you still are not convinced about the value of a customer feedback loop, don’t take our word for it.  Check out Forbes Magazine’s thoughts on feedback loops or Harvard Business Review.

 

3.      But what should I do with all this information?  And what should I do with the dreaded negative review?

We recommend compiling the data for your own personal analysis.  Your positive reviews should be highlighted on your social media and also spotlighted on your website.  However, most people do not know what to do when you are dealing with a negative review.  There are several key points to keep in mind as you start to handle these reviews:

a.       Try to stay calm.

Never respond to a review when you are angry or frustrated.  Nothing positive will come from that interaction.  Instead, try to find commonalities with other reviews and try to put yourself in the customer’s shoes to understand how they experienced their business transaction.  Once you have stepped away to gain some valuable perspective, draft a response and let a trusted colleague review.

b.      Respond the review quickly.

Our best advice is to respond within 1 to 2 business days of the posting whenever possible.  This lets your reviewer and those reading the reviews know that you are engaged and actively trying to improve your business and the customer’s experience.  This will help create a level of trust and respect with your audience which cannot be bought.

c.       Provide action items in your response.

In your response, try to provide action items about what you will do to improve their experience next time and for all those in the future.  When you provide action verbs in your response about the next steps, it lets the reviewer and the ones reading it know that the complaint is not falling on deaf ears.  More importantly than providing this information in the review is the follow through.  You have to commit to completing the tasks you laid forth in your response.  This is a big part of creating a trust with your customer audience.

For more information about how to handle negative reviews, check out this article in Social Media Today.

While there are no sure and fast solutions to creating successful feedback loops, the most important takeaway we can provide is to be consistent with your customers.  If you design a program, stick with it and follow through. Get creative and have fun with it.  There are many resources available and your only limitation is your creativity.

 

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