Smart businesses know that customer feedback is key to success.
McKinsey reports that marketers who put customer knowledge at the center of marketing decisions improve their marketing return on investment by 15 - 20%. And a 2013 Aberdeen Group study of 347 businesses saw that top-performing companies across all industries rely on customer knowledge to drive their sales and marketing initiatives.
These businesses understand that regularly gathering customer feedback strengthens customer relations and improves overall business performance, helping them address problems which could undermine loyalty and lead to unsatisfying experiences.
The following are five specific ways surveys provide businesses with clear solutions, offering smart and efficient methods for building and maintaining a solid competitive advantage in today’s marketplace.
1/ How to improve your product or service
Part of measuring the satisfaction of customers is determining whether your product or service meets their expectations which, according to a Forbes study is a “must-have” factor for 48% of consumers. If many customers are leaving the same negative feedback, this may be an indication that your product or service is missing a key element or needs improvement. Survey your customers to find out what they need from you. Gather insights into:
- What they’re buying from you, and what they value most about your product of service.
- What you could do to make your product or service more useful or valuable.
- What would encourage them to buy more.
2/ How to more effectively promote your product or service
Customer feedback is marketing gold. According to a Nielsen study, 92% of consumers around the world trust word-of-mouth recommendations above all other forms of advertising while another study shows that 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site which includes user reviews. Clearly, you should use feedback to not only improve your business, but promote it. Leverage your feedback by placing unedited comments prominently on your webpage or blog, or share it on Facebook or Twitter. Consider asking:
- What first comes to mind when customers think of you.
- What makes you unique from your competitors.
- What you do better than anyone else.
3/ How well you are living up to your promises
Ask customers if you are living up to the promises you made when they agreed to do business with you. If they say you aren’t, ask how can you do better. Using feedback surveys to gauge if you are delivering on promises will increase your chances of holding on to customers. And considering that the probability of selling to an existing customer is as high as 70% (versus 5% - 20% for a new customer), finding out what they think is worth your time and effort. Consider asking:
- How they would rate their overall satisfaction with you.
- How likely they are to recommend you.
- How likely they are to continue doing business with you.
4/ How to improve your customer experience
If customers think you aren’t prioritizing or delivering excellent service, it’s going to cost you money and customer loyalty. As Oracle has recently discovered, almost 9 in 10 customers have abandoned a business because of a poor experience. But just as bad customer service can be a huge loss for your business, the same study finds that great service can be a huge win, with 86% of customers willing to pay more for a better experience. Therefore, reducing friction is imperative. Surveys can help you identify – and eliminate – hurdles that get in the way of a smooth customer experience. Find out:
- How satisfied they are with the quality of support you provide.
- How easy it is for them to complete a transaction or how accessible you are when a problem arises.
- How well you understand their needs.
5/ How to plan for the future
How will you keep up with changes in the market? New and emerging competitors? Your customers’ needs? Asking your customers for feedback on your business performance will help you to identify where improvements can be made to your product or service. Without this feedback, any future improvements you make are likely to be the product of guesswork. Consequently, your chances of actually solving critical problems that keep people engaged will probably be severely reduced. Therefore, consider asking about the following:
- How satisfied they are with your current range of products or service.
- When they find it necessary to look elsewhere to meet their needs.
- What they think you could be doing better.
Customer feedback surveys play a crucial role in running a healthy business. Surveys help measure satisfaction – and dissatisfaction – with products and services, build customer trust, and provide a business with opportunities to evaluate its overall performance. For all of these reasons, your business needs customer feedback to understand how well you are performing in the marketplace.
And the best part is that customers are happy to help you. As Accenture has discovered, customers want you to take their feedback into consideration, with nearly half of all surveyed consumers stating they are willing to share their insights to receive a better experience. You just need to ask.