As a business owner, what are you struggling with the most? Is it a new product, service, pricing strategy, or location? In the quest to grow a business, there can be so many things rolling around in a person’s head, it may seem almost impossible to get a full night’s rest!
Amazingly, however, we never think about encouraging customer feedback and involving the people we serve (and seek to serve) daily into the process. Here’s a quick list of both low-tech and high-tech options that you can use today to aid in building a successful business.
1. Utilize your customer’s touch points
How many times daily or weekly does a customer come to your counter, speak with you on the phone, or visit your website? Such actions pose terrific opportunities to interact and seek feedback from your customers.
The great thing is that it doesn’t have to be complicated. Place a simple 8.5 x 11 counter poster on your counter or a sticker on your door or a note on your website requesting a customer to visit your Facebook or Google+ Business Page and leave feedback. You’d be pleasantly surprised how many of them would do so, and not just to complain.
Alternatively, at the end of every phone conversation, asking a few questions to understand the customer or their problems you could potentially fix before hanging up can go a long way.
On your website, you can also create a simple form that pops up after checkout, or you can redesign the checkout thank you page to grade the process.
All these are untapped areas to collect customer feedback, to help you become a selling machine, or better yet, to gain a better understanding of those you serve and the role you play in their lives and businesses.
2. Remove feedback roadblocks
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen clients send their customers on a quest just to leave feedback or air a grievance.
In my opinion, every business owner should be looking to identify problem areas. Left unchecked, these problems can result in costly experiences down the road. Taking a simple look at the processes in place for getting customer feedback can make a world of difference.
You can post a simple email address (email@example.com), for example, on your bathroom stall door or wall. You can leave a number to a voicemail service (Google offers free phone numbers), or just have a simple suggestion box.
Even these simple things can save you a world of hurt later, or even better, bring you great ideas that you can implement or make you aware of much-needed changes that you can incorporate from the people that matter the most.
3. Make #hashtags your best friend
There’s so much noise online, especially on social media that even the savviest media darlings can easily get lost in the shuffle.
Enter the secret weapon of experts and large companies: hashtags.
By simply registering and promoting your own hashtag (for instance, #BrunosBurgers. I made it up, and on searching, actually found a business by that name) or using popular hashtags that may be applicable to your industry, you can cut down the noise online and hear directly what customers are saying about your business.
This is a great way to gain insights and answers on the topics that you are currently struggling with or may not even know about. This could also help you research new services based on keywords and topics that your existing and potential customers are discussing.
Another quick and simple example could be using the hashtag #help in combination with your topic — for example, #computer #help or #accounting #help. If your business is location dependent, you could also pop in a location dependent hashtag, such as #fortlauderdale or #salons, among others.
4. Train yourself and your staff to interact well with customers
It’s amazing how much information you can gather from customer feedback when they don’t feel like you’re trying to sell them.
Imagine a clothing store (or any store for that matter) where apart from the customary “Can I help you?” (and the customer responding with the customary “No I’m just looking.”), you asked about their day, engaged with them in a conversation, and found out the reason why they are using your service or purchasing a particular product.
Such information could yield not only a wealth of information regarding your customer, but it could also help you upsell other products that they didn’t really come in to buy.
Now, imagine for a second that you owned a hardware store. Most projects need multiple supplies, all of which you may not have or may not be the most price-competitive with. Knowing this can assist you in your pricing strategies or stocking and inventory practices.
The more you know about each customer and their visit to your place of business or website, the better you can tailor your services to suit them. Plus, sometimes for convenience, if you can meet all their needs at that time, the price will no longer be their main decider, but convenience will.
5. Work on ways to develop a community
Facebook and almost every other social media platform that exists today began as a simple idea to bring people together around a particular topic. You can do the same thing around your business.
Find creative ways to educate your customers and encourage camaraderie between them. Many businesses and “solo”-preneurs have found this to be a very effective tool. A simple free Facebook community page or a LinkedIn Community Page can do wonders.
Gathering your customers around a topic they love or educating them on your industry and business via a community you’ve created can yield untold value for your business and brand in the long run.
To sum it all up, a successful business sprouts from a happy client and a pleasant customer experience.
So, take the time to listen to what your customers think or want. Encourage customer feedback, whether through face-to-face interactions, over the phone, via the web, or with that good old-fashioned comment box (or a combination of all). In the long run, such small steps could propel your business miles up that success ladder.
The wonderful thing is most businesses don’t and won’t do many of these things, so the small steps you take today will put you well ahead of most.
Three indispensable books that I’d advise you to read are:
These 3 videos are also great teaching tools:
Here are some other resources to further help you out: