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4 ways to gather customer feedback to better serve your customers

4 ways to gather customer feedback to better serve your customers

Posted on: October 02, 2012
Author: ATB Business & Agriculture

All business owners want to serve customers to the best of their ability. And to do that, you need to know what the customer wants and deliver products or services that meet their needs.

The problem is: you can't make everyone happy. Here are a few ways you can gather and manage customer feedback, and then effectively incorporate it into your business.

  1. Build a comprehensive customer database.

    Knowing your customers starts with knowing their buying behaviour. How often to they purchase? What are they buying? What complementary products or services have they not tried yet? Sales software that incorporates individual customer profiles can gather this information for you.

    Personal information—such as where your customers live—may also be useful, but be sure to consult your lawyer before you gather those details. Privacy laws are strict, and you will have to maintain information security standards for those customer databases.
  2. Talk to your top customers.

    Host an informal feedback session, and ask them for their thoughts on what they like and dislike about your business. If you have close relationships with these people and are concerned they may censor their feedback, you can hire a facilitator from a research company to conduct the session for you.

    According to Gary Friesen, Managing Director of ATB Business in Southern Alberta, being curious and open to criticism is key.

    "Ask your top customers what you do well and what you might do differently to make their dreams come true. The answers may be surprising or challenging to implement, but they will tell you what's important to your customers—and that's really important information for you to know."
  3. Make it easy to comment.

    There are many ways you can gather feedback, some quick and some comprehensive. Including an email address or Twitter account at the bottom of your invoices, conducting a quick in-store survey, or posting thumbs-up/thumbs-down buttons at the end of the online checkout process are a few that would be relatively easy to implement.

    But feedback is useless unless it's heard, so don't let those surveys or emails disappear in a folder. Plan a few minutes each week to review that feedback, and don't be afraid to respond with a well-crafted answer.
  4. Enable BYOB (Build Your Own Bundle)

    One-size-fits-all rarely fits perfectly. By allowing your customers to choose their specific products and services, you will not only better serve their individual needs but also have a better idea which products are in higher demand. This information could help you develop a stronger product line or identify a niche market.

    Bundling can get confusing, so make sure you keep the selection and sales process as simple as possible. Offering a variety of product packages, based on the customer goals you identified in your feedback session, will ensure you don't alienate those who want a simple solution.

Finally, don't forget to reassess and adjust regularly. Customer needs and wants change, and their feedback is one of the best ways to stay on top of those changes.

As Gary points out, your success is dependent on your ability to anticipate what your customers are looking for.

"Regardless of the business you are in, you cannot have everything fit into one glove. The companies that understand what their customers need and want will 'win'. It's up to the provider of those services to adapt to the customer, not the other way around."

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