Customer feedback is everything. While you can gauge your success, at least to some degree, by a bottom line, a better litmus test is the overall satisfaction of your customer base. Why is customer feedback so important? Not only does it give insight into how your brand is perceived, but customer feedback and reviews are an integral part of a comprehensive (e.g. successful) digital marketing strategy. Are you getting enough feedback? More importantly, are you acting on it?
Listen to Your Customers
Reviews, interactions, and feedback are all perfect ways to gauge whether your product or service is a hit with the audience. You might think you know what customers want, but a disconnect in perception can lead to emphasizing the wrong things. As a general rule of thumb, you should have lines of communication open from the beginning.
According to RightNow Technologies, 86% of customers are willing to pay up to 25% more for a better experience. But what makes the experience better? Optimizing it to their preferences based on their feedback! At least from a marketing perspective, what your customers say in reviews can help guide your strategy. Not only can you publish reviews in a more visible space, but you can also produce compelling ads that illustrate consensus on a superlative brand attribute.
The most important part of listening to your customers is acting on their feedback. Almost 9 out of 10 customers read how businesses react to customer reviews. They’re looking at whether or not businesses are being transparent and professional, as well as whether there are repeat issues being ignored. But 73% of customers only pay attention to reviews written within the past month. That stat proves the importance of making sure you’re getting enough feedback. What can you do to facilitate more open communication?
How to Open up the Lines of Communication
First and foremost, let’s take a look at where customers read reviews. With over 158 million visitors a month, Google My Business is far and away the most important space, followed closely by Facebook. Keep your SEO strategy sharp to be easily found on Google, and keep up a regular posting strategy on social media so your audience knows you’re monitoring it.
You don’t necessarily have to respond to every comment or review. However, it helps to thank the poster for his or her business and honestly address their feedback. If it’s negative feedback, don’t try to argue or hide the review. Again, thank the poster for their honesty, and address what you can do to right the wrong. Remember, honest effort goes a long way.
When Customer Feedback Matters the Most
At face value, customer feedback helps businesses ascertain where they do well and where they can improve, as well as guiding decision-making for potential customers. But where customer feedback really proves invaluable is in guiding new product or service launches or developing a new marketing strategy. The best way to gather feedback depends on your line of business, but typically involves a mixture of qualitative and quantitative research.
Those might sound like fancy buzzwords, but the reality is much more simple. Develop a survey, hold a few short focus groups, or analyze competitors’ content or online reviews. Your findings should provide guidance in not only determining what features to include but how best to advertise! While it can be tough to get enough folks to fill out a survey or attend a focus group, find a way to incentivize folks. Something like a gift card lottery is a great way to get a lot of respondents, but make sure you’re screening properly and accounting for the proper margin of error.
Ultimately, there is no bad time to get customer feedback. In a perfect world, your customers leave happy reviews every time they enjoy your product or service, and everyone sees those reviews and follows suit, and everyone lives happily ever after. In reality, keeping lines of communication open is just as difficult as keeping your customers objectively happy. The best course of action? Work hard, listen to your audience, and be transparent.