What are the Best Ways to get Customer Feedback – Methods and Ideas

Your customers are fundamental for your business. If it weren't for them you would end up with no sales, and in time you will have to close down your firm. Therefore, you need to make sure that you know what your customers are thinking about your products or services. You need to gauge their level of satisfaction, or otherwise. If you do not invest in customer care, you will find that your customers will not care about your products or services, and they will most probably start to consider trying out your competitors' products.
Getting customer feedback is an integral part of customer care. If you acquire your customers' feedback you will be able to understand what they think of your products or services, and what are the chances that they will remain loyal to your firm. Likewise, you will also have helpful information on what they think is not satisfactory. This could be in terms of price, quality or after sales service. This information can then be used to help you make amendments and improvements.
There are a number of things which could inhibit you from getting your customers' feedback, or from making use of it. These include:1. Fear of criticism - there are many entrepreneurs who are not willing to hear negative comments and reviews. They prefer to do without it. However, negative comments can be priceless as they can actually help you improve and get many new customers in the long run. If there are unhappy customers who are buying your product or service out of habit, chances are that if you do not improve they will soon get to know of another brand and leave you once and for all. So you need to act quickly and wisely whenever you get any negative comments.
2. Acting on the feedback - another barrier that needs to be surpassed is the lack of willingness to act on the feedback. It is not enough to gather your customers' feedback. You need to make use of it. You have to take the time to evaluate their comments, try to understand them, and come up with ways to rectify any problems. Therefore you need to make sure that you respond to that feedback and try to find solutions.
3. The excuse of lack of time - another common barrier is the unwillingness of investing time and effort on collecting your customers' feedback. Often sales persons listen to what customers say while they are shopping. However they fail to report that information to management. This important information is thus lost. Hence you need to train all your employees to value customers' comments and act accordingly. Motivate your staff to share those comments with you rather than being afraid that they could make them look unprofessional.
Different forms of customer feedback:1. Asking customers - a lot of feedback from your customers can be gathered at the point of sale. Encourage your sales people to ask questions to the customers, and then report what they said. Obviously, this type of feedback has the disadvantage of being somewhat unreliable in some cases. This is because there will be some customers who would not be willing to tell the truth.
2. Mystery shopping - this is a common technique for getting customer feedback. Hiring mystery shoppers is becoming more popular and it can offer you more unbiased insight as to how customers feel about your business. A lot of business solutions can be devised with this information.
3. Focus groups - gathering focus groups is another helpful technique. These customers are given incentives to contribute their views on the firm's products or services. These customers will basically act as representatives of the wider spectrum of customers out there. Their insights will give you a lot of business ideas to improve your products or services.
4. Using questionnaires and surveys - it is quite easy and affordable to set up a survey. The questions that are posed need to be devised wisely so as to gather as much customer feedback as possible. You could offer incentives to customers so as to encourage them to fill in the survey. Make sure to make it interesting, easy to answer and not too long as the majority of people will not spend more than 10 minutes to answer it.
5. Your staff's input - you need to encourage your staff to share any comments customers make. The more they contribute, the better your customer service will be.
Every business, no matter how small or big, relies on customers. Their feedback is of essence as it helps the firm to adapt accordingly. If you do your best to gather your customers' feedback, and use it wisely, you will find that you will not only make more sales and profits, but you will also acquire a good reputation and plenty of loyal customers who will refer several new customers too!