Ask not what your customers can do for you; but what you can do for your customers.
Here's a home truth you won't often hear: the key to business success is swallowing your pride. Today, tomorrow, and forever. When sales shoot high, keep your cards low. Or, better said, hold one foot in reality, no matter how tempting it is to jump headfirst into the numbers game.
As a business owner, you don't have to look far to find reality – your customers will bring it to your doorstep (or storefront.)
While you're busy taking stock, counting website visits, and hedging pitches – your customers are living the real thing. You may be hyper-focused on every line of code; they're clicking the buttons.
So surely they'll let you know their opinions? Not always.
In fact, many customers will simply slip away after one visit or purchase. Although benchmarks vary from company to company, About 5%–10% of consumers write reviews overall. These reviews significantly influence what slice of the $1.7 trillion tech industry pie you enjoy.
84% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations from friends, while 82% of shoppers specifically seek negative reviews.
But what if customers felt like they could go directly to you? What if they felt like you were always listening and that their input would bring about meaningful change?
That's when everything changes.
It's also the pinnacle of smooth customer feedback.
Let me explain why audience feedback is essential for your business
Product & Service Improvement
You've done the market research, you've asked all the right questions, and now you have a product/service you can be proud of.
However, no matter how perfect it seems in your hands or head, once released to the market, it's subject to the keen, detailed eye of the consumer public.
They're not to be feared. Instead, they're to be asked their opinion. What are the highs and lows of using your product, and what would they change or keep?
Without fail, you'll find consistencies. Maybe your load speeds left people tapping on tables and checking their watches. Perhaps what seemed like an intuitive interface is really a mind-boggling maze.
All-in-all, now that you know – you can fix it.
Measuring Customer Satisfaction
There's a reason why customer satisfaction goes hand in hand with financial performance. The variable is directly linked to many benefits, such as increased market share, lower costs, or higher revenue, with the backing of many studies. So knowing whether or not your customers are fulfilled with what you have to offer is an indispensable asset.
Forward-thinking Data Collection
Eighty-three percent of CEOs rely on customer feedback to make business decisions. That this number isn't 100% is mind-boggling. Making loose business decisions is a losing game.
Using data-collecting methods such as surveys and ratings allows you to pinpoint precisely which thought process you should be avoiding.
As mentioned above, consumers have moved from trusting commercials and expert advice. Instead, they're looking towards their peers for the go-ahead on what's hot and what's not.
In covering this base, you kill three birds with one stone. The first being you know if you're what's hot. Secondly, you can directly provide potential customers with reviews from previous customers, raising targeted lead conversion. Finally, you show your customer's opinions matter to you and your business.
Diversify & Enhancing Your Content
Leading on from the previous point, not only will audience input help you to curate targeted content, but you can also turn your feedback strategy into a content form.
Recently, the ability to successfully remodel questions, ratings, and surveys as a fun form of interactive content has been a hit for multiple companies. So much so, it's now a running trend that's expected to become the norm.
A quick fact: You have about 8 seconds to capture your audience's attention with any new feature. Make it worth their time, and you'll strengthen and diversify your feedback loop.
And last but not least – beating out the rest. This is perhaps the most popular benefit of customer feedback if we're being realistic.
Since 2007, the number of tech start-ups has increased by up to 47 percent. From 116,000 establishments in 2007 to 171,000 in 2016, these start-ups are tech-based. In 2020 alone, 20,000 tech start-ups got off the ground.
Why so many?
Expanding cloud services, high accessibility, and cheap open-source software is the grossly over-simplified answer.
What can you do about it?
The red-hot competition requires a red-hot approach to customer onboarding and retention. Unfortunately, the reason many tech start-ups fail within the first five years (90% to be accurate) is their keen focus on the former to the detriment of the latter.
Microsoft, Google, and other big industry names have something few tech start-ups will have in their fledgling stages – customer trust and recognition.
So, while growth is always welcome and brings about thoughts of success beyond your wildest dreams, it should always come with the question, "How sustainable is this?"
By maintaining an open, cross-platform conversation with your audience, you create an accessible and clued-in image that's vital for building lasting customer-business relationships. Not only that, your audience will feel free to share their undeniable valuable insights into your customer experience. Consequently, you'll be able to make significant changes for the better and also fine-tune minor problem areas.
The result: a well-oiled business machine with a steady supply of oil that never stops giving.
Implementing Customer Feedback into Business Strategy
Forget for a moment, all of the pretty verbs and adjectives you've heard applied to the "perfect" business plan. Sure, we want the very bones of our pride and joy to be reliable, water-tight, and optimized. That's 2D thinking. And whether we like it or not, or businesses move in all three planes.
So, there's only one word you'll need for now: Dynamic.
A dynamic business strategy acknowledges there's always room for improvement and growth. It takes the flux of market opinion into account and isn’t afraid to swallow its pride, consider feedback, and change accordingly.
Think you're up for the challenge?
Here's How You Can Make Customer Feedback A Priority
Social media is a goldmine of customer feedback, one that Elon Musk can offer a masterclass in. Voted top CEO in 2020, Elon Musk fulfilled his title for all to see. A Tesla owner took to Twitter to voice concerns about availability at Supercharger stations. Within hours, Elon Musk shot back a reply, acknowledging and validating the complaint, before ending with a simple yet reaffirming "Will take action."
And he did – 6 days later. Take notes.
Monitor mentions of your and your competitor's brands. By taking part in social listening, you can see when your brand name is discussed on social media. In doing so, you can offer immediate customer support or feedback to customers, even though they haven't directly contacted you.
Better yet, you can observe what's being said about your competitors, potentially allowing you to capitalize on unsatisfied customers by offering an alternative (and better!) solution to their problems.
Surveys & Polls
Almost every major social media platform from Instagram to Twitter now offer survey and polling options. Now, you can even create a pool directly from LinkedIn’s homepage. So, the groundwork is covered. All that's left for you to do is decide what you want to ask, when, and what you'll do with the results.
Be sure to make the questions worthwhile. You've probably noticed that many successful brands such as Uber mask their business strategy questions alongside more trivial and fun alternatives to boost all-around engagement and start a conversation.
Note: Don’t ignore questions after you’ve asked them. Customer trust is built on consistency and building a narrative around your brand.
However, for use on personal or brand websites or even for linking to social media, you also have the option of creating custom-made customer surveys. Consider taking advantage of customer survey templates if you don’t know where to start yet.
Direct messages are no longer the sole realm of friends, family, and whatever stranger happens upon your profile. These days, in a customer-centric economy, brands are opening their DMS wide for customers, clients, and potential collaborators alike.
So, be sure to welcome your customers into your brand's DMs by mentioning it in posts and responding as frequently as possible. Consider asking customers if you can use their DMs in stories or posts as a visual representation of your willingness to receive and reply. As an extension, you cultivate an open and fresh image around your business that’s crucial in today’s market.
Social Media Contests
Encourage your audience to get creative with your product/service by hosting competitions. Or, ask them to write what they enjoy most about your brand with a prize up for grabs for the winning submission.
In hosting competitions, not only do you create a sense of solidarity and belonging among your audience, but you also secure audience-generated content, which can then be used in future content marketing strategies.
Be sure to keep any contests on-brand and true to your image. Deviating from the norm during competitions suggests it’s for sponsorship or third-party deals.
Never stop asking
Every time you release a new product or service, the customer feedback loop should be set in action again. However, perhaps more importantly, while still at the drawing board, you should ask what your customers want. That way, you can use customer input to optimize output pre-emptively.
Instagram is perhaps the best platform for diving into this illuminating endeavor. When creating a story, experiment with their stickers. For example, poll stickers are fantastic for helping with business decisions, while question box stickers allow for more detailed answers.
Customer retention is the bread and butter of the business. Without it, revenue drops, and soon after, your business flops. As the foundation for future and meaningful growth, it should be at the forefront of your business plan. Fortunately the customer retention equation is simple: consistency + change = retention. While that may sound contradictory, as we’ve learned from above – it really makes perfect sense.
By consistently taking customer feedback into account and changing to suit their needs/preferences, you gain customer trust, a reliable brand image, and secure engagement. Before too long, the sales follow suit. They trust you with their time and money because you cater to them and offer value they won’t find elsewhere.
So, be sure to leverage customer feedback strategies and features wherever you find them – it’s what you, your brand, and customers deserve.