Customer feedback divides opinion; some businesses avoid it as they feel that it can have a negative impact on morale; disagreeing with the opinion that it is constructive and choosing to be guided by themselves only. Some businesses welcome it yet don’t make the most of it; they like to give the impression that their customers’ opinions are important to them but don’t take the time to build it into future strategy. Overlooking the value of customer feedback is a mistake, as it can help you to grow your business, in fact, statistics show that companies that pay attention to  customer experience outperform those who don’t by nearly 80%.

 

No matter how confident you are in how you run your business, there will always be potential for improvement. It’s important to see customer feedback as a positive, as it allows you to recognise the need for, and make changes, which leads to growth. Customer feedback is a key form of insight; an outsider’s perspective on how your business operates will always highlight issues that insiders won’t have noticed. Your opinion could be warped by a number of things, such as the knowledge of how much you have already invested in your current business plan impacting your willingness to try new approaches. 

 

So, what are the ways in which customer feedback can help you to improve your business? We’re here to shed some light on the topic and encourage you to bite the bullet; face the facts and boost your business as a result.

 

The Feedback Cycle

 

The term ‘Feedback Cycle’ relates to the process of gathering customer feedback, using it to improve your processes, products and services, and, in turn, improve future feedback. It’s a continual cycle of improvement that would benefit any business, large or small. 

 

How many times have you experienced a company as a customer yourself, and thought of simple ways in which their processes could be improved? It’s easy to overlook the small stuff when you’re responsible for the company as a whole, but customers have a more detailed view of the individual aspects they are using, and can therefore point out flaws. Many businesses can’t afford to hire staff purely to give the responsibility of overlooking operations on a more intricate scale to. Asking customers for feedback is a far cheaper alternative that offers the same results and insight. 

 

For example, can you honestly say that you know exactly what your customers experience when they deal with the company your outsource product delivery to? The delivery drivers are going to come into close contact with your customers, without a representative from your own company to oversee the transaction. They will, instead, be acting as the company interface; reflecting the values of your business. Hopefully, they will behave with professionalism, but what happens when they don’t? In this day and age competition is fierce in every sector, so something as simple as the unsatisfactory manner of a delivery driver can be enough to make a customer switch to a competitor, so make sure you ask your customers for feedback on their experience in order to avoid a negative impact on your company’s reputation.

 

Furthermore, delivery workers, being the only face to face contact a customer has with a company, often have to handle complaints and confrontation. This can be difficult even for experienced members of staff who are trained for such an eventuality, so there is a high chance that it may not be handled as your customer would like. This is another reason why you should always ask for customer feedback, as it can help to identify weaknesses in your system, which you can then make improvements on. Perhaps you need to outsource to a different courier service, or maybe you can provide delivery workers with a script to follow that will help them to minimise confrontation and direct customer complaints to a specialised department within the company.

 

Similarly, customer service departments often bear the brunt of the majority of negative customer feedback as they are the main interface through which customers experience your company. However, asking for feedback on these experiences can lead to you being able to make more affordable choices. For example, consistently negative feedback on the customer service your business offers would lead to you research and discovering better alternatives such as outsourcing this function on a pay per minute basis to a ready-made team of experienced experts for a fraction of the price of having a full-time, in-house team. 

 

If you don’t provide your customers with the option of leaving feedback on their experience, an issue such as this will go unnoticed and it will be difficult to identify the resultant reduction in customer numbers.

The Feedback Cycle translates to any aspect of business in any field; whether you need insight into how easy it is for customers to navigate your website, or how helpful they find your customer service representatives. 42% of businesses don’t collect feedback from their customers, which can result in some major mistakes being made, which are so easy to avoid. In contrast, paying attention to the opinions of your customers can really help you stand out from the crowd.

 

How to Encourage Feedback from Customers 

 

So, how do you go about gathering valuable customer feedback? Well, there are many digital platforms already available for you to make the most of. For example, trustpilot.com is a website designed to provide a space for customers to leave feedback on any company they wish, even anonymously. It is supposed to benefit those who are deciding which company, out a few, to use, as it gives them access to other people’s experiences first. However, it is open to the public which means business owners can also check out the kind of reception their business has been getting.

 

Reading customer feedback can be a daunting prospect at first, particularly for those business owners who rely on their business’ success, but it is very important to do so. That said, be prepared to take some opinions with a pinch of salt; just like with any public platform they can attract those who may not have the best intentions. If you’re unsure as to whether you’d like to see the results of this level of exposure, another option is to create a customer feedback page on your own website. This allows you to have more control over the kind of opinions that are being shared, as you can guide customers with specific questions. This is also handy if there’s a certain area of your business that is underperforming, which you would like to make improvements to. 

 

You could ask customers to give certain aspects of their experience a rating, for example asking them to rate how their complaint was handled, out of ten. This allows you to identity areas in need of improvement, without having to face potentially offensive detail. Alternatively, you could provide tick boxes or sliding scales through which customers can voice their opinions in a non-confrontational way.

 

How Customer Feedback can Help with Promotion 

 

As well as using customer feedback to make improvements, it can also be used to encourage new interest in your business. There are many ways in which you can use feedback to promote your business, but a particularly popular option is featuring case studies on your website. 

Customer case studies are examples of positive experiences that your customers have had. For example, you could provide a quote from an email you have received from a happy customer, that shows just how effective a product or service is. Case studies are also a great way to let existing customers know that you welcome feedback. 

 

When choosing which case studies to include, it’s best to opt for those based on the most relatable customer experiences. For example, the average customer will be most interested in things like product quality, delivery speeds and help platforms. Just think of the kinds of things you look out for as a customer yourself when considering whether to work with a company. Buyers require an average of at least 40 reviews before believing a business’ star rating is accurate, so make sure you include as many as you can.

 

Another way in which customer feedback helps to promote your business, is through recommendations. For many people, part of the process of purchasing products is researching what’s on the market. The impression you put across when presenting your company, with the help of things like customer case studies, can lead them to mention you in discussions with others looking for similar products. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools out there, and it’s completely free, so make the most of it.

 

Are All Reviews Reliable?

 

Unfortunately, some companies hire the services of businesses that specialise in creating fake reviews; posing as real customers and saturating the review platforms with unrealistic reflections of products and services. You can easily see what the benefits of this are, but it’s a practice that is frowned upon and it’s a risky manoeuvre as if the public become aware of it, your reputation will plummet.

 

It can be quite easy to spot false reviews. For example, they are often overly positive, word perfect, and offer no real insight into the product or service in question. While it is possible to receive real reviews like this, try to share reviews that do offer what false reviews lack, such as authenticity and a range of opinions, in order to avoid being mistaken for their deceptive counterpart.

 

Hopefully we’ve opened your eyes to the benefits of gathering customer feedback, and the many ways in which you can go about doing it. It can be a daunting prospect; facing the opinions of your customers on a company you’ve worked so hard to build, but every business has room for improvement and pros far outweigh the cons. Through welcoming and acting on the feedback you receive, you can become a progressive and enlightened company that is a step ahead of its competitors, and the more improvements you make, the more positive your customer feedback will become.

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