It doesn’t matter what type of business you have or how long you’ve run it. Your customers are the lifelines of your brand.
Whether you sell products, offer services, or a combination of the two, customer service needs to be one of your top priorities.
You could have the best product in the world, but if you don’t treat your customers well, it’s going to hurt your bottom line. On the flip side, you could have a product that’s average, or even subpar, and be extremely profitable if you provide excellent customer service.
How is that possible? Well, the numbers don’t lie.
According to research, 80% of consumers say they’re willing to pay more money to businesses offering better customer service.
But that’s not all. Failing to provide good customer service can result in the loss of your customers.
What exactly causes a business to lose customers? Research shows that only 14% of customers stop supporting a business because they are not satisfied with their products or services. And 9% leave because of the price.
But look at the top reason why customers leave a business. Nearly seven out of 10 customers will leave because they don’t feel valued.
In short, customer service is more important than what you’re selling.
Now that we’ve established why improving your customer service is important, it’s time to take steps in that direction. But how can you improve your customer service if you don’t know what your customers want?
It’s simple. Just ask them.
Getting feedback from your customers is a crucial component of your customer support strategy.
It shows them you care about their opinions. Furthermore, the results can help you better your business and ultimately make more money.
If you want to provide excellent customer service, I’ve narrowed down the top 8 ways to get feedback from your customers.
1. Create surveys
Leveraging customer surveys is the most logical place to start your quest for feedback.
Depending on what you’re using the survey for, the questions and potential responses can vary.
It’s important to have a clear goal when you’re creating these. For example, if you’re trying to improve your customer service, you don’t necessarily need to ask the customer about a specific product.
That said, surveying customers about a previous purchase shows them you value their opinions, which they perceive as good customer service.
The idea is to get your information and get out as soon as possible. Customers don’t want to fill out a 20-minute survey.
People are busy. In all honesty, they’ve got better things to do. I recommend using an online resource such as SurveyMonkey to create your surveys.
You can create an account for free and have access to templates and pre-written questions about specific topics. Obviously, you can customize those to fit your business and goals.
Once your survey is complete, it’s easy to distribute it electronically to your customers through all your marketing channels.
Since time is of the essence here, keep your surveys short and limit them to a handful of questions. Don’t ask obvious or misleading questions.
Don’t ask questions and provide answers you want to hear. You may be doing things wrong. Allow your customers to share that information with you.
Sometimes you need to give your customers some extra incentive to fill out a survey to get as many responses as possible. A discount off their next purchase should be sufficient.
Interviews might not work for your business.
It’s much easier for brands with brick and mortar locations to conduct interviews than for online businesses.
Sure, ecommerce companies can still interview customers. But they’d have to set up a Skype session or phone call to do so. This isn’t impossible, but it’s more of a hassle.
But those of you with physical store locations can interview customers when they shop in person.
The best time to do this is after the customer has checked out and is getting ready to leave. You don’t want to bother customers while they are shopping because it could potentially prevent them from making a purchase.
Since it’s not the most common practice, this strategy could really help you gain an edge over your competitors.
Nearly 90% of marketing experts believe that improving the customer experience is the top factor for differentiating their brand from the competition.
Before the customer leaves your store, politely ask them if they have five minutes to answer some questions. If you tell them the interview is going to be five minutes, you’d better stick to five minutes.
Conduct the interview away from the register so it doesn’t hold up your line.
It doesn’t need to be in an office, but go somewhere with some privacy so other employees and customers can’t hear the responses.
Introduce yourself and explain why you’re conducting the interview. Establish a rapport with the interviewee so they feel comfortable answering your questions honestly.
Make it clear that you won’t be offended by their responses. Some customers may be hesitant to provide negative feedback if they are saying it directly to your face.
You’ll need to let your guard down and ask questions in a way that gives them the opportunity to say how they truly feel.
The great thing about an interview, as opposed to a survey, is that the answers are more authentic. Customers have a chance to tell you what’s on their minds, without having to select from a pre-determined list of survey responses.
Record your interviews, with the customer’s permission, of course. That way you won’t have to scramble to write notes while they are speaking.
Again, you can offer an incentive to customers who take the time to answer your questions. Thank them for their time, and give them a coupon.
3. Add a comment box to your website
This one is pretty simple.
Include a customer feedback form on your website. That way, people who are visiting can see this as an opportunity to share their opinions.
Here’s an example of a basic version of a comment box on the BuildFire website:
You have different options with these comment boxes. As you can see in the example above, this form requires you to include your name and email address with the message.
But you could provide the visitor with an anonymous option.
If customers do provide you with their contact information, it’s always in your best interest to reach out to them when you receive the message. This is especially true if they are voicing a complaint.
Apologize for any inconvenience you may have caused them. Offer a solution.
Let them know that you value them as a customer and that you’ll make improvements to ensure this won’t happen again. Thank them for reaching out to you.
Here’s something else to keep in mind. Don’t be discouraged by negative comments.
You should be thankful the customer told you about their poor experience instead of leaving without saying a word.
In fact, only 1 out of 26 customers will complain if they are unhappy. The other 25 will just give up on your brand and stop buying.
When a customer gives you negative feedback, you still have the opportunity to make things right. Not all is lost.
You can turn a negative experience into something positive by mending that relationship.
4. Third-party reviews
Your business is on websites such as Yelp, Google Local, and TripAdvisor.
Just because you don’t control those websites doesn’t mean you should ignore them. Make a habit of checking those listings weekly, at a minimum.
If you are getting tons of reviews, consider checking more frequently.
For starters, you want to make sure the information listed on these sites is accurate. I’m referring to your hours, phone number, menu, pricing, etc.
But you also need to consider the customers who willingly took the time to write about your business.
Good comments. Bad comments. You want to pay attention to all of them.
All too often when we talk about customer service, it seems like businesses automatically jump to the negatives. While it’s important to be proactive about those poor experiences, it’s also necessary to keep track of the positive ones.
This will reinforce what you’re doing right. You’ll know what you should continue doing instead of changing something that customers are happy with.
5. Live video broadcast
Facebook. Instagram. YouTube. All of these marketing channels have live streaming features you should be taking advantage of.
While this tactic isn’t quite as intimate as a focus group, which we’ll discuss shortly, it gives you the opportunity to reach a high volume of customers at the same time.
Here are some of the top benefits of live video streaming, according to brands, retail companies, agencies, and other marketing executives:
As you can see from their responses, a more authentic interaction with the audience ranked first on the list.
This authentic interaction is great for getting customer feedback. That’s because customers can comment in real time while you’re broadcasting live.
Everyone else watching can see those comments as well. Respond to comments.
Depending on how many people are watching your stream, it can be overwhelming to keep up with comments. That’s okay. Take your time to go through them.
The great thing about these live streams is you can save them and refer to them at a later time. Read through the comments, and take notes. Group similar statements so you can prioritize what needs to be addressed first.
Live video is great for customers as well. They can watch it on their smartphones from the couch as opposed to being bothered when they are in your store.
6. Focus groups
Focus groups aren’t nearly as popular as some of the other feedback methods. This is mainly because the logistics are more complex.
But that doesn’t mean you should ignore this option. Even if it’s not your top choice, conducting a focus group should still be in your arsenal of potential ways to get feedback from your customers.
An ideal focus group is conducted in person, with all the participants in the same room. Groups of six to eight customers should commit between 30 and 60 minutes of their time to participate.
Being in a room together will allow them to feed off each other.
One person could say something that another customer may not have thought of. As a result, it could trigger a response based on that customer’s experience.
Focus groups are great for testing new products and ideas. Allowing your customers to be part of the innovation process will make them feel valued, the importance of which I have already talked about.
Customers who participate in focus groups should be compensated much more than those who fill out a survey online.
Your customers who complete a survey may get 20% off their next purchase. But it’s not unreasonable to provide a $50 or even $100 gift card to customers participating in focus groups. You should also provide them with some food when they arrive.
7. Follow-up emails
After a customer makes a purchase, you should send them a follow-up message, asking for their feedback.
I’m sure you’ve seen these before. Here’s an example of a short survey from Venmo embedded directly into an email:
As you can see, this survey is directly related to customer service.
In addition to embedding the survey into the email, you could also provide a link for the customer to provide feedback through a platform like SurveyMonkey, which I talked about earlier.
You may even decide to send a link to the comment box on your website I previously mentioned.
Just realize that any additional steps a customer has to take to give you feedback will decrease the chances of it being completed.
Don’t be annoying. All too often I get three or four emails from a company asking me to provide feedback for my most recent purchase, flight, etc.
You don’t want to be that person.
If they don’t respond after the first message, you could send one more reminder. But that’s it. If they still haven’t given feedback, you could always try again in the future after their next purchase.
8. Social media comments
You need to stay active on social media.
But in addition to posting content on a regular basis, you also have to track what your customers say about you.
Don’t ignore your notifications. Read through your comments and direct messages.
Do this on all platforms. Facebook. YouTube. Instagram.
Use the Twitter advanced search query to find out what customers are saying about you, even if they don’t tag you directly.
Check out these comments from a post on the Lululemon Facebook page:
The first comment is positive, and the second comment shares some criticism.
But do you notice something they both have in common? Lululemon responded to both of them.
As I said before, you need to treat both positive and negative feedback the same. In both instances, you want your customers to know you value them.
More than half of consumers say they expect brands to respond to their feedback. If their comments are negative, that number jumps from 52% all the way up to 72%.
If you can’t keep your customers happy, your business is going to struggle. It’s a fact.
Customers care more about customer service than they do about the quality and price of what they’re buying.
That’s why it’s so important for you to find ways to get their feedback. But there is no one-size-fits-all way to do this.
Not all customers will respond to all tactics.
In order to get responses from as many customers as possible, you’ll need to try different approaches. This will also help you get accurate results.
Refer to this list of my favorite 8 ways to get customer feedback. Ultimately, this will help you provide enhanced customer service.