Feedback Isn’t Just Words, It Is The life of Yours Business
Every entrepreneur wants to succeed in business. Beyond the excitement of having a novel idea, we all desire to enjoy public acceptance of such ideas as well as products and services created from them. The acceptance is what guarantees patronage that translates to sales and yields good returns on our investments. However, it is hard to gain acceptance from target customers if products and services do not meet their immediate needs or solve a pressing problem for them.
Many entrepreneurs claim to know what their customers want/need, but indeed, such knowledge is a figment of their imaginations. Lots of business owners would rather keep focusing on the products they think are sellable rather than trying to find out what the customers want to buy, in line with their needs. This explains the shallow patronage experiences that frustrate many out of business.
You cannot know people’s needs based on assumptions or your personal experiences. The best way to find out what customers want; and how they want it is by asking them. It’s always safer to hear what customers think about your products or services because the customer is king. You need his/her money in exchange for the value your business provides. Without the customers, you would be out of business, so, their opinions matter.
The launch of a new product should be preceded by opinion sampling of customers; this is called a market review. After launching the product, there is a need for continuous opinion sampling of customers to guarantee customer retention and business sustainability. This is called feedback.
Every business owner desires to provide a ‘wow’ experience through their products and service; one so unforgettable enough to make customers coming back for more. We want our customers to be loyal to us and refer other customers. The only way to ensure this is through Feedback.
Unfortunately, a large number of SMEs do not pay attention to getting quality feedback from their customers while others don’t know how to go about it. There is also a category of businesses who fear customer feedback so much that they avoid it totally because they think it is synonymous to negative remarks. Others simply think feedback is an opportunity for customers to praise their products and services.
Feedback is essential in business for the following reasons:
1. Feedback is your performance review
Think of feedback as an x-ray machine that shows you a clear image of where your business stands or how it is rated but your customers’ perspective. From the feedback, you can know what you are doing right, what aspect of your operating processes or service delivery that needs to be upgraded, and why you are not selling huge quantities of your products etc. Overall, good feedback lets you know what you are not doing well; it is a good start to determine how you can do it better.
2. It pushes you to continually explore innovative approaches to make your products or services better.
When customers tell you what is wrong with your business, it spurs you to think out of the box for possible ways to make it better. Feedback is a tool for continued learning about product development and industry trends to guarantee customer satisfaction. The desire to satisfy your customers will always bring out the creativity in you. On the other hand, a positive review (a sign of customer satisfaction) also makes you think of how you can sustain the tempo of praises from your customers. Appreciation is a motivating element that encourages you to double your efforts.
3. Asking for feedback from your customers give them a sense of belonging.
We all like to feel like a part of the big circle, to know that our opinion counts. Asking your customers what and how they feel about your business means you value their opinions and suggestions. Feedback is an opportunity for customers to tell you what is important to them about your business and how they want to be served. This would enhance their trust and loyalty to your brand since nobody likes to leave where they are treated right.
4. It enhances your brand reputation
When you request for customer feedback, and you act on their recommendations, they will be happy to come back, buy more from you and even refer their friends. It’s a known fact that word of mouth recommendations grow SMEs exponentially. Also, goodwill is unquantifiable. When customers trust your brand, they can recommend you for bigger opportunities. The reputation also rubs off on the business owner such that if he/she ever launches another brand in the future, support is guaranteed from his customer community. As important as feedbacks are to every business, there is a need to do it right, so that the purpose won’t be defeated. The following are ways to get quality feedback from your customers
1. Don’t burn the bridge of relationship
Many SMEs are only interested in selling: Once a sale deal is closed, they cut off every line of communication with the buyer. This is a counter-productive approach to business growth. It’s advisable to maintain a relationship with your customers; a thank you message letting them know you appreciate their patronage will encourage them to open up about their experiences using your product or service. It’s easier to get a review this way.
2. Don’t feel entitled to feedbacks
As fantastic as getting feedback is, it is not the right of your business. Rudely demanding reviews from your customers after using your product will scare them off. Nobody likes to feel pressurized: you cannot be pestering customers for feedback, let them do it only if they want to, and at their own convenience
3. Feedback channels shouldn’t be cumbersome
As business owners, it’s always advisable to make your processes as seamless as possible. Feedback forms should be easy to fill: avoid too many questions that are irrelevant to your goal for the feedback. If the goal is to improve the quality of your service, make the questions based on service delivery. If the goal for seeking feedback is to rebrand your product, make the questions product-related.
Best Channels For Quality Feedback
1. Phone Calls: Calling up your customers randomly to find out what they think about your products or services is a good way to get them talking. A lot of people find it easier to give their opinions when they do not have face to face interaction. Note that you cannot call people whose numbers you don’t have. This shows the importance of having a database of your customers’ contact details.
2. Emails: Like phone calls, emails are great for receiving quality feedback. You can be sure that your customers will give you their candid opinions.
3. Online Surveys: It helps you to receive anonymous feedback because the forms don’t require personal information from your customers. The best approach is to make the survey as concise as possible because long online forms are a turn off for many people.
4. Social Media: Whatsapp chats, Facebook and Instagram DMs are effective
ways of receiving feedback from your customers.