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Six Ways to Get Million-Dollar Feedback from Your Customers

Customer feedback is vitally important to organizations of all kinds. It gives you direct knowledge about what your customers want from you and what they think about your organization. It can tell you what you need to do to keep customers coming back. And, in challenging economic times, a steady flow of accurate customer feedback could be the difference between a healthy business and no business.

So here are six suggestions to help you and your organization get better feedback from your customers.

1. Have your employees get the feedback.

Your customers do business with you and your employees. The better your relationships are between your employees and your customers, the better feedback you can get. So let your employees handle this. Consultants and survey companies will never have these quality relationships with your customers (why would you want them to?).

2. Make it ongoing.

Things are constantly changing. This includes your business, your customers and your market. What you learn today from a customer might be irrelevant next quarter. Doing an annual survey or making quarterly phone calls might not be enough. You’ll get better information if you stay in touch with your customers on a regular basis.

This also helps you keep your questions short and fast. If your only attempt to get customer feedback is an annual survey, you’ll be tempted to ask them too many questions. Then you’ll get fewer responses and your information will be less valuable.

3. Keep it informal and unobtrusive

Put the clipboard down! Most people do not like surveys or formal interviews. And even if they do them their answers often vary. There is something about the formal setting that causes many people to behave differently. (We don’t even realize we do it.)

The best feedback comes from natural , informal situations when the customer is being genuine. They’re not thinking about how to answer, they are just responding. If you have regular and ongoing contact with your customers, use those points of contact as opportunities to ask how they feel and what they think. And do it in a normal, conversational way. Leave the clipboards for the consultants.

4. Make it easy and convenient.

We’re all busy. (Just ask anyone, they’ll tell you!) So if your feedback attempts take too much time or are a hassle then they will fail. Don’t make people jump through a lot of hoops. Keep your questions short and few. And make it easy for them to respond.

I recently requested feedback from people who read my Daily Dose of Amazing Service newsletter. It was a short email with five questions that could be quickly answered. In fact, I answered them myself and it took 38 seconds. The response rate was phenomenal. Over 35% of my readers responded. I was thrilled because it showed me people are willing to help you with their feedback. But you need to make it easy.

5. Thank them.

Say “thank you” to everyone who gives you feedback. I know this sounds trite. But it’s not as common as it should be. Say it more than once. Thank them in a way that they know you mean it. Tell them why you appreciate your feedback.

6. Do something with the feedback.

Perhaps the best way to thank your customers for their feedback is to do something with it. This doesn’t mean you’ll implement every idea they give you. But don’t ignore them either. Keep track of what customers tell you. And even if you don’t use it, let people know you’ve considered what they told you. Tell them (or show them) how you have used their suggestions. This will make them more willing to offer feedback in the future. And it will make it more likely they’ll stick with you because you’ve engaged them in a way your competition has not. You’ve brought them closer to your business.

So how does your organization get customer feedback? Is it once in awhile or a regular, planned process?

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