Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. – Bill Gates
There are countless times I’ve sat in an executive or owners meeting where the team says they know their customers and what they want. They extrapolate around their beliefs going into great detail as if they are walking in their markets shoes. Although these conversations can be fun raising the passion and energy in the room, but they really are outright guesses. It’s time to stop the postulating to get at the real insights found within customer feedback…and beyond.
First things first, you need to ask yourself a few critical questions prior to taking up your audiences precious time.
- What do you want to know?
- Why do you want to know that?
- Who are you talking to exactly?
- What value does that knowledge bring?
- How are you going to use what your learn?
- When will you implement change?
There are also some best practices to keep in mind when you are getting customer feedback.
- Keep all the data you can (you never know when you want to mine back data)
- Create feedback tools that connect (build from one another)
- Make this a part of what you do (i.e. be consistent)
- Use multiple channels to gain feedback (using one tool is myopic)
- Be respectful and thankful to your customer participants (don’t miss this point!)
Let’s quickly review the yummy benefits of making this effort when it comes to customer intelligence.Yep another list.
- Increase customer satisfaction
- Raise customer retention/loyalty
- Reduce churn
- Better, faster decision-making
- Strengthen positive word-of-mouth
- Dampen poor reviews
- Improve product and service innovation
Let’s look at what customer feedback channels might best serve this new endeavor of yours. We’ll keep it simple by starting with three.
- Online surveys are an excellent avenue to distribute and collect customer feedback effectively. My favorite tool: Typeform
- Customer research done by an outside, professional party is an absolute joy. My favorite tool: Gutcheck
- Direct customer feedback is received when you ask during a visit, after a call, through social media, etc…no time like the present.
Building your business means tuning into the people who keep you going. Your customers. Don’t leave their voice out of the equation when you are determining how to best serve them. Ask. Then ask again. And again. When you do this you quickly not only find yourself ahead of the curve but also the competition.