The Simplest Way to Get Customer Feedback: Ask for It

While your customers are not the expert on your business, they are the authority on what makes them happy and what will keep them coming back or referring you to a friend or colleague.  Regardless of the industry you are in, customer input and feedback is a critical piece in your customer service strategy.

The simplest way to get the information you need is to ask. Talk to your customers while they are still in your store, your hotel, your restaurant or your attraction.

Getting this feedback before they leave your business has two distinct advantages:

  1. They won’t have had time to talk themselves out of giving it.  If you’re looking for suggestions on how to make their visit even better the next time, the customer won’t have time to tell themselves they are probably the only one who feels that way so it’s better to just keep quiet.
  2. If there is a problem, you have the opportunity to address it before they leave and stew on their disappointment.

Some tips for improving customer response rates

  1. Know what information you need to know and develop questions specific to that need.  If you are looking for specific ideas or opinions, ask specific questions. For example:  “Did you find our new signage easy to follow?” or “What kind of interactive activities would make this exhibit more interesting for you?”  Don’t use this as an opportunity to get answers to every question you’ve ever had. Nobody wants to be hijacked by a clipboard bearing zealot. Keep the questions brief and to-the-point.
  2. Speaking of clipboard bearing zealots … lose the clipboard and have a conversation with the customer.  After you’ve developed the questions, practice, practice, practice with your team.  Role play various scenarios and let them become comfortable with the questions before sending them out to interact with your customers.  These conversations with your customers should be seen by customers as a conversation, not a list of questions on a clipboard.  How the questions are delivered will absolutely impact the quality and quantity of responses.
  3. Follow-up on the information you receive.  Depending on your business, you may already have their contact information.  In some cases, you may need to ask for it.  If you have that information, send  a thank you note or email.  Let them know you appreciate the time they gave you and let them know what you are doing with the information received.

Of course, there are some customers who simply don’t want to share their thoughts, ideas or opinions in person. For those that prefer a less direct form of communication, be sure to have alternate methods available, such as a comment card or on-line survey.  As with the conversation, keep the questions focused, easy to answer (in other words, no essay responses needed!) and follow-up.

Creating an effective customer feedback strategy is important. The more information you have on what makes your customers happy or unhappy, the better off you are.

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If you’re interested in finding out more about customer service strategies, I’d be happy to talk to you!  Feel free to sign up for a free consult here or email me at lbarkman@servicedge.ca or call me at 204-995-5836.

Create an Inspiration Board at Work

Wednesday’s blog (click here to read) focused on ways to encourage creativity in your team.  The next step is providing team members with different ways to share their ideas or their customer’s suggestions.

Some team members will walk right up to you or willingly speak up and share at a team meeting.  Other team members prefer a less direct method of sharing their ideas and if they don’t have another avenue, you may miss out on some great ideas.

One suggestion is to create an inspiration board.  Post it in a highly visible place and make sure post-it notes and a pen are close at hand. You may even want to place it somewhere accessible by your customers.  After all, they know better than anyone what would make them happy.

Review the notes daily, thank each team member for their contribution, ask questions to clarify understanding and then share and discuss all the posted ideas at the next team meeting.

What are some other ways to make it easy and comfortable for team members to share ideas?  Please share your suggestions below or on my Facebook page.