SCORE Small Business Blog

Are You Really Listening to Your Customers?
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Do you ask your customers what they think about your business, whether in person, by email or online? Great! Next question: Do you listen to their answers? Customers don’t think so, according to a new survey by customer service consulting firm Empathica as reported in MediaPost. Although 85 percent of consumers in the survey say they do give feedback to businesses, just 29 percent think it makes a difference.

Really listening to consumers can be the key to small business success. In fact, 83 percent of those Empathica polled say if they knew a company took their comments seriously, they would be more loyal.

So how can you poll customers and make sure you act on their responses?

Go online. 67 percent of customers prefer to give feedback online. Face-to-face feedback, the next most popular method, was chosen by just 13 percent of people. You can use online survey tools (many are available for free), poll customers on your own website, or ask them questions via Facebook.

Pick up the phone. Phone feedback can work great for business-to-business companies. Have someone on staff contact customers on a regular basis to ask about complaints, problems and solicit positive feedback. By digging deep into what customers like (and don’t like) about your business, you can discover ways to serve them better, or offer products or services that could help them.

Acknowledge it. Encourage feedback by responding to it, whether online or in person. Acknowledge what customers have to say, whether their comments are positive or negative. There’s nothing worse for a customer than complaining to a deaf ear.

Empower employees. Front-line workers are often the ones who hear the most customer feedback. Make customers happier by empowering your team to make decisions without having to check with you every time. (Of course, you’ll want to set some parameters here.)

Act on it. If customers regularly bring an issue to your attention and you don’t make changes, they will feel ignored—and take their business elsewhere. If you can’t make the changes they suggest, explain why. Asking for feedback is only half the game. You’ve also got to do something about it.

Want more ideas on getting and using customer feedback? Your SCORE Mentor can help. If you don’t have a mentor yet, visit SCORE’s website to get connected with one and get free business help 24/7.

Rieva LesonskyCEO, GrowBiz Media
Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She was formerly Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship.
www.growbizmedia.com | @rieva | More from Rieva

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