Business Growth through Honest Customer Feedback

April 27, 2015


Honest customer feedback is often a key factor in determining flaws in a business process or forming the kind of customer relationships which endure marketplace ups and downs.

Here are a few approaches to obtaining relevant feedback and making customers feel both welcome and appreciated.

Create a Feedback Process

When creating a customer survey or asking for feedback, the process should be clearly defined. First, identify a specific set of customers to be queried and the questions you will ask. The Net Promoter methodology is a good place to start as it is so simple and you don’t involve your customers with too many cumbersome questions.

Once those responses have been tabulated, determine whether or not corrective action will be taken and by whom. The process ends when surveyed customers are notified of any changes which resulted from their feedback, making them feel their feedback was valued and acknowledged.

Include both your salespeople and customers in the process from start to finish, and the likelihood of business growth through meaningful change is increased.

Study Demographics

Pay attention to the needs of different demographics, and don’t use the shotgun approach to business. People have different preferences that fall into categories like age, sex, or gender, and customer feedback surveys are an opportunity to gather demographic data you might not otherwise receive.

Checking out the competition is another way of discovering competitive advantages for your company. When surveying customers, find out where else they would–or do–go for similar products or services. Why do they keep coming back to you? How do other businesses drive them away?

Maximizing Honest Feedback

Many feedback devices focus on the speculation of what a customer might do instead of what a customer can do, wants to do, or has done–all of which are better indicators of what a customer actually will do in the future. According to some studies, questions about the future often result in inaccurate data collection, while research reveals that a percentage of people will lie when responding to questions about their own behavior or beliefs.

In order to gather feedback which inspires honesty, keep a few things in mind:

  • Brevity. Neither the questions nor the survey itself should be long-winded. The shorter the survey, the more likely it is that a customer will respond with honest feedback.
  • Editing. Each question should have a singular purpose, and any of your managers should be able to read the question and know exactly what kind of information you want, and why. If they can’t, then ask the question a different way or not at all.
  • Use different methods. Provide pen and paper in a brick and mortar store, send email surveys with accompanying incentives, offer short surveys through social media, or ask a customer in person. Figure out which method works best for your company.

Business growth through honest customer feedback is an art form and takes some testing to get right. Listen to your customers, refine your approach based on their answers, and be attentive as to whether or not they promote you to others — probably the greatest positive feedback possible.