Genuine customer feedback creates opportunities for companies to earn more loyal customers, those who know that they can speak out about their problems and that they will be addressed.
It also helps to:
- measure customer satisfaction
- improve products and services
- show that you value customers’ opinions
- create the best customer experience
- establish reliable source of information to other consumers
- collect data that helps taking business decisions
Most customers ignore survey requests unless they have something very positive or very negative to say. The main reasons for this are that surveys often reach customers at inconvenient time and the customer doesn’t see any real value for themselves in completing the survey. And even if the customer has taken the survey offered, this often results in very generalized responses, which don’t give you as a company much insight about the customer or what their interests and difficulties are.
The good news is, there are ways to approach your customers as individuals and collect more genuine and informative feedback from them.
1. Ask the customers about their experience, not about your company and how well you did for them
This is an important factor because indeed most of the customer surveys have a similar set of generalized questions. They put the customer in a box and don’t leave room to actually share the customer’s personal experience.
A few weeks ago I faced a situation where I took a flight with an airline company and their team and the service was great. However, there was a man sitting next to me who had a coca-cola bottle obviously filled with some alcohol drink and was sipping from it the whole 9-hour flight. He was so hangover and such a bad smell was coming both from his bottle and his mouth that I was feeling sick and about to vomit the whole flight. Other than that he was a really nice man, smiling and trying to be helpful.
Well, would airline ever know that I had a terrible flight with them? I guess not. The aircraft surveys usually ask about the cabin crew, how well they performed, were they helpful. They never ask you about your neighbors. And sometimes those create the biggest part of your customer experience and you don’t have a means to share that with the company.
So if you really want to know what kind of experience the customer had while interacting with your company, be thoughtful and creative in setting up your survey questions. Give room to the customer to describe their issues.
2. Be proactive and collect customer feedback at the moment
Don’t wait for customer feedback to just roll in. One of the biggest problems collecting customer feedback is that most of the time customer surveys come to you at inconvenient times and they are a pain to complete. The truth is, you can change the customer experience right there and then, in the exact moment you are collecting customer feedback. And this approach is just contrary to the typical approach to customer surveys when they are collected and then only analyzed and maybe even put to action.
When customers are shopping in a brick-and-mortar store, a sales associate can ask them what them what they are looking for and provide help tailored to their needs. In case of online e-commerce stores, targeted surveys can be of help and provide a similar experience to the customer in the digital world.
Also, if your online store has a live chat function, employing proactive chat for this purpose can be a great practice. Modern chat invitations are a convenient tool for asking your customer directly what their current needs are and how you can help.
3. Personalize customer surveys and gather information for future personalized service
Beyond offering assistance at the moment, customer survey data can also enrich your understanding of who your customers are and what they need. In fact, 73% of consumers prefer to do business with a brand that uses their personal information to make their shopping experience more relevant.
While you can learn a lot about a person from monitoring their behavior on your website or recording such attributes as geolocation, referring source, loyalty-program status, etc., sometimes the best way to learn something about your customers’ interests and motivations is just to ask.
You can build stronger relationships with customers by taking the time to get to know them. Customer surveys are a great tool to collect preference data and start tailoring messages and offers to the customers.
With all that in mind, it’s good to remember also to keep customer surveys unobtrusive and easy to fill out. If the customer can have a little fun with it, they will not try to avoid in the future. There needs to be a balance between how much personalized information you get from a survey and how easy it is to take it for the customer. So get that balance right and surprise your customers with the ways you approach them and the genuine questions you ask!