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How to gather customer feedback (and the tools to do it)

4 Sep 2017

 

Gathering customer feedback is an essential part of running any business. It allows you to tailor your product and service offering, can encourage repeat business, and can help improve the image and reputation of your business (provided it’s mostly positive).

 

Many ecommerce sites have simple and powerful tools to help businesses who use their services to gather customer feedback. The added benefit is that such feedback can help inform the purchasing decisions of customers who use the services. Many sites have their listings organised by highest customer rating by default rather than price, which shows just how important and how much purchasing weight is put towards the quality of the product and service being offered instead of just price alone.

 

Check out this blog by Superoffice which provides 32 Customer Experience Statistics You Need to Know for 2017.

 

I’m certainly the type of person who’s purchasing decisions are driven by the views of others. The purchase of any product I find online, from Amazon to Autotrader, is decided by the feedback left by others. I can certainly ignore the odd gripe; however, serious complaints cause me concern, and repeat offences just displays an unwillingness to want to improve the way they do business.

 

Quite simply, I’d much rather pay a premium for a quality service, than risk the hassle of dealing with a business which is not customer-centric.

 

Anyway, personal shopping habits aside, how can businesses gather customer feedback where there is no existing review platform readily available?

 

Live chat services

 

Live web chat is now a common feature of many websites. If a significant portion of business goes through your website, consider implementing a live chat service where you can address any customer questions or concerns.

 

One of the easiest ways of ensuring customer satisfaction is by clearly stating the terms on which you do business. However, many customers don’t have the time (or inclination) to go over 12 pages of terms and conditions or trawl through your website in search of delivery times or returns policies (both a common source of complaints).

 

A live chat service, partnered with clear and easily accessible frequently asked questions, helps customers quickly understand the way you do business. The sooner these questions are answered, the more likely the customer will have a positive experience through their purchasing journey.

 

Live chat services may already be available to you depending on the web platform you use, if not, there are plenty of options available packaged in different ways. Some are free, and others are more premium services.

 

Here is Capterra’s list of 20 of the most popular live chat software packages.

 

Website feedback forms

 

If implementing a live chat service on your website is not option, then a dedicated feedback form can be just as effective. Again, this should by coupled with a method which allows customer questions to be answered prior to them making a purchase.

 

Data gathered from the feedback can help drive business decisions. They can show your strengths and competitive advantage, and can help you improve areas which have been pain points for customers.

 

Feedback forms can be used in conjunction with an auto-responder, allowing the customer to know that their feedback has been acknowledged and being investigated. This is particularly important for complaints, as the last thing a customer wants is being ignored once a complaint has been made. Addressing complaints face-on (and resolving them) is a sure way of turning a negative customer experience into a positive one.

 

If your web platform does not provide form functionality which allows you to gather the information you need, there are plenty of third party offerings. Surveymonkey and Smartsurvey are commonly used by businesses, however it’s a pretty big industry with lots of services which may be more cost effective depending on your needs.

 

Call your customers

 

Whilst at marketpreneurs we tend to advocate automating processes where possible, in many industries, it’s not uncommon to be in regular phone contact with your customers. As part of your regular service offering, you could include a further stage in your process which includes a closing call to your customer.

 

This can be a simple and cost-effective way of gathering specific and succinct feedback from your customers, and potentially deal with any issues there and then.

 

For businesses with a larger budget, there are many services out there that will carry out this stage for you. As part of their service, they can gather anonymised feedback, summarise, report and suggest improvements to the way you handle customer transactions. They are generally known as customer management feedback services / enterprise feedback management, and provide software or call centre services to gather the initial raw data which they use to provide meaningful customer insights.

 

This review by G2 Crowd analyses some of the best feedback and analytical software packages currently available in the market.

 

Don’t let your customers suffer in silence

 

Gathering feedback is one the best ways of improving your service offering to your customers and in turn, can help improve your competitive advantage.

 

We have covered just a handful of some of the options available to businesses. However, it can take time to find a method that’s best suited to your business model. Provided you have a method for customer to easily get in touch with you, then you are half way there. Making the process simple and seamless will allow you to make the most of the feedback gathered from your customers.

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