Understanding Customer Feedback and How to Use it Effectively for Your Business
What is Customer Feedback
Within every professional establish, whether it be a company, business or start-up, one thing is always left in common, and that is client or customer feedback. Most companies or businesses either cater to other businesses or to consumer customers, but no matter who you are selling your product or service to, you will always some form of a client. One of the most beneficial aspects of clients is not only having an audience that invests into your business, but also gives you genuine reviews and feedback as to how you perform as a business (i.e., how well your services perform, or how well your product performs).
Different Kinds of Customer Feedback
Contrary to what people believe, customer feedback comes in many different forms other than just reviews or commentary. Although written reviews are a great and helpful form of customer feedback, there are many different ways to acquire them, and the way in which these are collected can result in different answers and perspectives brought mainly based on the nature of how they are collected. Below is a list of the common ways in which customer feedback can be collected.
Reviews and Ratings
One of the most popular forms of customer feedback, reviews and ratings are a simple and straightforward form of customer feedback that relies on your customers and clients leaving genuine and honest reviews about the quality of your services or products. Alternatively, your customers or clients can leave ratings out of a numerical value (5 stars, a number out of 10, etc.,) which can help provide a more numerical, or percentage customer feedback value that is helpful for analytic reports and observing larger numbers of customers and clients without having too much written content.
Interviews are a great way to get in-depth information and understanding of your business and products. Unlike other forms of customer feedback, the benefits of interviews lie in the fact that you can control the type of questions being asked about your business or product. For example, you can ask specific questions about specific parts and aspects of your business or products and receive specific answers that help give you the insight you need for the parts of your business or product that you need the most. Additionally, not only can you control the type of questions asked, but also the way in which they are answered (words vs. a numerical value). One of the most helpful aspects of conducting interviews is that rather than just receiving reviews from random customers or clients, you can control the target audience in which you conduct your interviews with, in order to receive results from a niche group of your customers or clients. This can help your business understand how it performs with certain groups within your customers and to see where your product or services perform better or receive more positive results. Not only will this help benefit your product performance but it can give you great insights into how you can change or improve your business to better suit the needs of your target audiences.
Discussion forums are typically forums or online chatting boards where users online discuss their feelings about a topic under an account online. One of the major benefits of acquiring customer feedback from discussion forums is that although you cannot control or ask the questions you need or want from your customers or clients, you can get unfiltered, genuine, and raw responses and insights as to how your customers and clients feel about your product. The value of genuine responses and opinions of your business or product lie in the fact that interviews or reviews can sometimes come from a more biased opinion, especially when your customers or clients are offered incentives or feel any amount of pressure to leave a review.
Sometimes when clients or customers leave customer feedback, they will give their experiences, stories or thoughts about your businesses or product performance, but lack in offering any helpful suggestions in ways that your business or products could improve. Although there is value in hearing your customers’ or clients’ reviews and experiences, it’s hard to suggest proper improvements for your business without exactly knowing which aspects your clients would like to see improved or changed. In this way, directly asking for suggestions, rather than reviews or experiences, is a great way to get customer feedback that reflects the exact changes they’d like to see integrated into your business or products.
How to Get Good Customer Feedback
Understanding customer feedback is pretty self-explanatory, but one of the most difficult parts of customer feedback is learning how to effectively receive and get good customer feedback. There are a number of reasons why certain businesses or companies don’t effectively receive the projected amount of customer feedback that they’d like or need to understand how they are performing, and a lot of this lies in the lack of strategy or effort taken when reaching out for feedback. Below is a list of some of the most effective ways to get good customer feedback.
One of the most popular forms of customer feedback is to conduct customer or client surveys. The appeal about using surveys is that your business can choose the exact questions that you’d like answers from about your business or product. Not only can you choose and create the questions you need for the answers you’d like, but you can also choose the form of answers you receive. For example, a portion of your survey can be done in written form if you need more context about the answers you’ll receive, whereas another portion of your survey can be done through a ranking system or numerically if you prefer more analytical results from your survey.
A more intimate form of collecting customer feedback, interviews are a great ways to get super detailed and thorough answers to your business or products performance. However, interviews can be slightly daunting to customers as they feel pressured to leave sugar-coated reviews, therefore, in order to get the most accurate and genuine responses from customer interviews, we recommend that you conduct customer interviews in group settings our with a loyal list of clientele who you’ve developed a comfortable and trusting relationship. Picking a group of random customers or clients could result in overwhelming them and actually scare them off from your business. No matter the situation, it’s always best to think foremost about your customers or client’s comfortability and privacy.
Over the past years, businesses have seen a huge revolutionary change in the way that they gain customers and clientele. As traditional methods of marketing and advertising have shifted into more modern and digital methods, social media has taken over as the main method for marketing and exposure to consumers. Social media is a powerful tool that can help businesses and companies learn a lot about what their customers or clients are thinking are about their services or products as social media provides the open ability for others to share their thoughts and feelings with their online peers. A smart way to get real results in client or customer feedback is to keep in touch with your social media engagements and check hashtags, keywords, and search results to see what others online have to say about your business or products to others. Because the online world is so unfiltered, users are more willing to share their genuine and sincere thoughts in order to give real and helpful reviews to online audiences, which means that any customer feedback gained online will help you make the rights and honest changes or improvements to your business.
A feature that most businesses should have on some part of their website, comment boxes a helpful way to incite your online audiences to voluntarily leave comments on your content that they like to see. Even if your comment boxes are necessarily attached to a certain aren’t of content on your website or social media, leaving a comment box of a main portion of your website where there is high visibility shows your online audience that you encourage discussion, comments, and questions about your business or services. Although comment boxes are hit or miss in the likelihood of frequently receiving customer feedback, it is still a good option to leave on your website to show that you are open to the opinions of your audiences and customers.
How to Effectively Use Customer Feedback
When receiving any form of customer feedback, it’s best to always document the comments and suggestions you receive. A smart way to analyze your client or customer feedback is to keep a date on to when you received the comment and compare it to the customer feedback you receive within a weeks or months time to see whether your business or performance has improved over time. Below are some more ways in how you can effectively use customer feedback to improve your business.
Listen and consider
Whether you’ve done interviews or are analyzing the results that you’ve gathered from multiple sources of customer feedback, it’s important to thoroughly listen and consider any comments, criticisms, and suggestions and reflect on your business model or performance. Consider what you provide to your customers and clients and try to take in their perspective to see how your business performs or services them. You’ll find that taking in their perspective will reveal more to you about how your business actually performs rather than just how you think it does. Consider the suggestions your customers make and evaluate the pros and cons of how your business will be affected if you took these changes or suggestions into account. From there you can see what drastically needs to be changed or improved, or what small changes can be made that will increase satisfaction in your customers and clients. What is most important in this process of considering changes is to understand why your clients feel the way they do and why they suggest these changes.
Thank your customers
It’s always important that when receiving any form of client or customer feedback, that you take the time to properly thank your customers and clients. Not only do your customers provide you feedback and reviews on your business or product, but they also take their time to consider and think about how your business works as an establishment, or how your product works as a solution to a problem that people face daily. Thanking your customers for their time taken in leaving feedback is also not only great for providing thoughtful customer service that your clients and customers will appreciate, but is also important for making sure that your customers feel appreciated and that their comments, feelings, experiences, and suggestions are taken account for and are important to the business. This can help increase the lifetime value of your customers and clients and give them a positive perception and experience with your business.
Re-evaluate your business model and make improvements
Finally, one of the most proactive actions you can take to effectively use your customer feedback is to re-evaluate your business model and make improvements to your business overall. No matter how small the comments or criticism you receive from your customer feedback, you can always find ways to improve your business or product. Take a step back to observe your business model as a whole and see where any possible liabilities can lie and how this can negatively affect the performance of your business or product and how this changes and alters the experiences of your customers and clients. Through making significant improvements, you can observe how your customers and clients feel and if your changes were helpful to your business’s performance and reviews.
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Article Author: MAKO Design + Invent
MAKO Design + Invent is a full-service consumer product development firm servicing both high-growth corporate manufacturers and invention startups. With a 25-person team across 3 offices (Austin, England, Toronto), MAKO has complete in-house industrial design, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering design and prototyping services. To assist our start-up inventor clients, we also have a subsidiary branch called Mako Invent that, in addition to above, helps start-ups with patenting, strategy, marketing, and sales/distribution for all consumer product categories. For our corporate clients, MAKO Design develops world-class consumer electronics designs through our industrial, mechanical, and electrical design teams.
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