How many times a week do you get this email? “Will you please take a few minutes to fill out our survey?” My personal email inbox currently holds requests for survey feedback from more than 10 companies. Apple’s in there, a hotel, two retailers, a car company, etc.
The key to success for any business is to keep your customers happy. Yet, measuring customer happiness can be a challenge. For over a decade I’ve worked with various methods for measuring customer happiness including surveys, public support forums, phone calls, the Net Promoter Score, etc. Over time, I watched my customer engagement rates decrease dramatically and the feedback become less and less relevant.
They main issue I’ve discovered is that customer satisfaction surveys rarely provide you the data you need to improve your business. Surveys are time consuming to administer and time consuming for customers to complete. Furthermore, the data gathered isn’t actionable because it’s often aggregated and the responses come in too far after the touch point with the customer.
So what’s a company to do? Our suggestion? Ask the right question at the right time. Here are some tips for effectively gathering customer feedback.
The first tip – ask one question and one question only. It’s always tempting to ask more, but why ask more when one will do? Ask one question with a simple answer choice and allow your customers to leave additional details if they want.
Tip number two – ask specific questions about a person or a product, not a general “how do you like our company?” General questions are too vague and are better suited for things like the Facebook ‘Like’ button. Asking specific questions about how one of your employees did resolving an issue or how your new product performed, provide you with much better feedback.
My third tip – ask the question at the right time. There are several touch points you have with your customers that offer excellent opportunities to ask for feedback. For example:
After a product demo or training. It’s always good to get feedback after a demo or training to make sure your audience understood the information presented.
After initial set up. Once a new customer is up and running with your product or service, it’s an excellent time to ask for feedback. Talking to a new customer here can help overcome any initial frustration that might naturally exist when getting started with something new.
After the first 30 days. After your customers have been using your product or service for 30 days they should be in full swing. This is a great time to get initial impressions. If there are any issues, you’ll be able to address them quickly without the risk of losing a new customer.
After any phone call. Any time you speak with a customer on the phone, especially if they’re asking a question or reporting an issue, it’s always a good idea to send them a follow up email. In this email, give them assurance you’ve understood them be summarizing your discussion and take this opportunity to ask for feedback.
After cancellation. Losing customers is not something anyone wants to talk about. But let’s be honest – it happens. When it does, don’t run from it. Instead, take it as another opportunity to improve by asking for some final feedback. Who knows, you might just win them back!
My final tip – provide your customers with a way to provide you real time feedback at their convenience.If you’re just asking customers for feedback when it’s convenient for you you’re missing a lot of opportunities. Be sure the mechanism you’re providing delivers customer feedback to you in real time and that you follow up in a timely manner. This helps your customers know you take their issues seriously.
Asking the right question at the right time gains you invaluable insight into your customer happiness. You’ll learn things about your customers, products and services that have a major impact on your business as a whole. So start asking your customers for more feedback, at the right times and start improving your customer happiness.
Guest blogger Jason Lander is the Founder and CEO of Hively. Hively lets your customers give you real-time feedback with 1 click, at their convenience. Ruby® will soon be incorporating Hively’s interface into our Problem Solver & Happiness Makers’ email signatures to get real-time feedback on how we’re doing. We asked Jason for his advice on what other small businesses can do to get stellar feedback.