Gauging the performance of your products and services in the eyes of customers and employees can give your business a competitive edge. And you can make it easy. From social media to online surveys, options abound for discovering what people think of your business. The benefits are numerous.
“Feedback engages customers in the conversation — it’s not just about the transaction — and it makes you better at what you do,” says Marcus Fischer, CEO of space150, a Minneapolis-based digital marketing agency. “You can attune your products and services to fit in line with customers’
Review these simple suggestions, and discover what people really think of your company.
- Develop a strategy. Just as you create business and marketing plans, you need a digital strategy for assessing customers’ opinions and experiences, Fischer says. If your strategy includes collecting as many Facebook fans as possible — people who will review products or make comments about your services — then stick with tactics that help you land them.
- Start with the basics. It’s never been easier to hear opinions about your business — and for customers to see and share those appraisals — thanks to social media. To get in on the conversation, set up a page on Facebook where people can make comments. Then check other social media sites like Foursquare, Yelp, Google Places, TripAdvisor and other industry-specific sites to see reviews and customer commentary, says Fischer.
- Keep it simple. When doing a survey, limit your questionnaires to the three or four most important things you want to know. People will give only so much of their time — so make it count, says Patrick Riley, CEO of Modern Survey, a Minneapolis company that helps businesses survey their employees and customers.
High points include asking customers how satisfied they are, if they will come back, and whether they would recommend your business. Asking an open-ended question also allows people to chime in with other thoughts.
- Ask your employees. It’s equally vital to assess the mood, engagement and motivation of employees. Engaged employees translate into loyal and satisfied customers. “The most important asset you have is your people, so it’s as important as ever to understand what your employees think and whether they engage and align with your strategy and products,” Riley says. “Customers can feel employees’ passion. And if customers believe in your business passionately, that will correspond to their loyalty over time.”
- Stay positive. When you get feedback on the internet, don’t get defensive, cautions Fischer. Whatever you say is public and can be read by current or potential customers. Stay detached, calm and professional when responding to criticism — and don’t take it personally.
- Respond. If you ask customers to give you feedback, monitor it daily if possible — weekly at a minimum — and get back to people quickly regarding any issues. Otherwise you run the risk of looking uncaring and unresponsive, advises Craig Key, senior media planner at space150.
- Protect privacy. Choose a survey platform that safeguards customers’ and employees’ privacy and gives people the freedom to speak their mind, Riley says. If not, you might get half the truth — or break their trust.
Hearing criticisms from employees and customers can be a great early warning, helping you address issues and fix systemic problems before they blow up. “Ultimately the companies getting the best results understand employee and customer engagement and how they work together as a system,” Riley says. “Those companies will continue to do well because that engagement results in passion and loyalty around their brand.” And who doesn’t want that?