Generating and Utilizing Customer Feedback
In our previous blog, we talked extensively about the importance of customer service and a bit about how customer feedback – especially negative feedback – can help to improve your business’ service, and, therefore, profits.
How to Generate and Use Quality Feedback
There is a gold mine of data out there, all of it relevant to your business somehow, if only you could capture it. Large brands spend millions chasing this stream of gold down through a dizzying amount of channels, all to influence the direction of the company through tiny tweaks and earth-shaking moves. For your business, gathering this data doesn’t have to be a dream; you can capture customer feedback in a few simple ways.
Okay, sure. You could always just ask. I mean, why didn’t anyone think of this before? Genius advice, right? Well, all joking aside, this is still one of the best, and most effective methods for receiving pointed feedback. Today, we ask customers and clients for feedback in a number of ways, including the following:
- Actually verbally asking customers at the end of a transaction
- Surveys attached to receipts, mailed out, sent digitally, etc.
- Email marketing campaigns
- Social media campaigns and ongoing management
- Follow-up calls after service
- Loyalty/rewards program blast communications
- Website contact forms and comment boxes
- Creating an online review site profile (Yelp, Top Rated Local, etc.)
Any of these, and more, are great avenues to simply ask your customers for feedback. Often, just making your business available for feedback is enough to receive a steady stream of it from pleased or less than pleased customers. Just be warned: Ask you and you shall receive; be ready for positive feedback and harder-to-hear negative feedback alike. As we mentioned in our previous blog, you should see the negative feedback as your biggest opportunity and strive to convert each unhappy customer into a raving fan; but you’ll only find them by asking and looking.
If you’ve ever read into the power of social media marketing and management for brands big and small, you’re no doubt aware of the necessity, expectation, and opportunities associated with a simple, well-crafted response to customer feedback. Often, a simple “We’re sorry to hear that, stop in and mention this comment and we’ll make it right,” or “Hey! Thanks for the kind words, our team appreciates it more than you know!” can go a tremendous distance toward mending and/or maintaining the relationships with customers that care enough about your brand to post or comment about it. Tailor your responses to the situation and always try to keep the response from becoming a back-and-forth dialogue that is visible to the public; regardless of the review’s location, always refer people to speak with you or your team directly, stop in, or otherwise settle the matter professionally. For private feedback – in-person, online, email, etc. – be sure to thoroughly thank the person for their feedback and the opportunity to make your team better by reinforcing what you’re already doing or learning from the mistake; your goal with feedback responses should always be to make the customer feel rewarded for their insight, not simply appeased. And, of course, always respond in a timely manner, with the goal in mind to have some sort of direct response within 24 hours or less. Any response that takes longer than a day loses much of its impact and makes your company look inattentive.
Make the Changes
After reaching out to the person directly within a day, be sure to take the feedback to your team to make the improvements you mentioned in your private response. Then, once you’ve had a meeting or addressed the matter in detail with the team, report back to the person again to tell them about the actual steps you’ve taken in light of their issue, thank them again for their feedback, and ensure they understand the thorough enthusiasm that your team takes from the opportunity to improve their service. If you take these steps, you’ll never need to say a placating line like “We hope to win back your business,” or “Again, we apologize for the inconvenience.” Instead, you should focus on thanking them and making them feel as though their feedback served a higher purpose; apologizing reinforces that your team screwed up and that you now owe them, which makes them consider that to be your reputation going forward, while thanking them and implementing changes based upon what they said will earn you no small amount of respect in most people’s mind and give you all the opportunities you’ll need to win back their business without ever saying so. Plus, this has the added benefit of disarming the argument they have against your brand, which will keep them from becoming a negative brand advocate to having a positive last interaction with your business. Now, if a friend asks what their thoughts are on your brand, they’ll likely say they respect your ability to correct a problem, not dwell on the problem itself.
The best way to generate feedback is to open your business up to your customers as much as possible. Show them a glimmer of what goes on behind the scenes and make them feel as if they have a stake in how the place is run as well as what they experience whenever they stop in. One fantastic and simple way to achieve this is with an advanced retail POS system. By upgrading how you manage inventory and ring-up purchases, you can bring your business out from behind the counter and onto the sales floor. Additionally, powerful retail POS systems like ours at Teamwork Retail allow you instantly connect with customers long-term through a deeply-knowledgeable CRM (customer relationship management) suite, customizable retail mobile rewards app, and even email marketing software to stay connected long-term. By combining all of these elements, your software can quickly translate into customer-brand interactivity and improved relations, which will mean more high-quality feedback and plenty of chances to use that feedback to improve your service – and your sales.
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