How to Use Customer Feedback to Boost Small Business Growth

Learn how to get the feedback you need and what to do with it in this detailed guide.

Customers are speaking up. Is your brand listening and turning their words into actionable strategies to grow your business? On this page, you’ll learn how to find and solicit customer feedback and what to do with the information you learn to boost your business growth.

What is Customer Feedback?

Customer feedback refers to the information clients share about a business and their experiences with it.  It’s often split into two categories: unprompted and prompted.

When the business doesn’t ask for the feedback, it’s considered “unprompted.” This is often the case with customer reviews left on sites like Yelp or Google.

When the business requests information, it’s called “prompted.”  Surveys businesses send to clients to gauge their overall happiness are a prime example.

Benefits of Gathering Customer Feedback

There are lots of benefits to gathering customer feedback. We’ll explore a few below.

Learn More About Your Audience

The data you gather can help you understand the needs and wants of your customers better so you can tailor your offerings to them and ensure your marketing efforts resonate with them.

Understand Customer Happiness

Depending on how you gather data, you can either get a holistic view of customer happiness, which often indicates the likelihood of long-term business success, or you can identify the churn risk for specific customers and take steps to boost their happiness before they leave.

Train Your Team

Customer feedback can reveal issues with quality and service. You can then take steps to improve the customer experience and train your team to create a more customer-centric culture. Feedback can also be used to celebrate wins and demonstrate what a great experience entails. This is a great way to boost morale, too.

Improve Products or Services

Often, customer feedback includes ideas to improve your products or services or highlights pain points the team can brainstorm on and address when enhancing your offerings.

Kickstart Discussions and Improve Issues

Each time a customer speaks, it presents an opportunity for your brand to hear them out and address their concerns.

How to Gather Customer Feedback

There are lots of different ways to gather customer feedback. We’ll review a few below.

Review Sites

In all, 38 percent of people leave reviews after a positive experience, ten percent do so after a negative experience, and 25 percent do so after both positive and negative experiences, per BrightLocal surveys. In other words, people are already leaving you feedback that you may not be seeing.

Be sure to claim your profiles on sites like Google Business and Yelp so you’re notified when someone reviews your business and participates in the discussion.

Social Listening

Mentions of your brand can appear anywhere on the web. Use a social listening tool to monitor for your company name, products, or other branded terms so you know what’s being said. For instance, Google Alerts is a free service and will notify you when any terms you select appear in Seach.

Surveys

Surveys are a simple way to gather prompted feedback. If you go with a lengthier survey, be prepared to incentivize users to increase completion rates. Shorter surveys can be equally helpful and will likely have higher completion rates. A few of the most popular short surveys are covered below.

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Survey

The CSAT survey asks a single question: “How would you rate your overall satisfaction with the [goods/service] you received?” Respondents are asked to provide a rating between one and five, with five being extremely satisfied and one being very unsatisfied.

Once you gather up all responses, add the total number of four and five ratings, then divide it by the total number of responses and multiply by 100 to get the total percentage of satisfied customers.

Average CSAT scores vary by industry and business. You can partner with a survey company that’s familiar with your industry or manage the survey independently, monitor how it changes over time, and focus on continuous improvement.

Net Promotor Score (NPS) Surveys

NPS surveys work similarly to CSAT surveys, but they measure customer loyalty. The NPS survey also asks a single question: “How likely is it that you would recommend [this organization, product, or service] to a friend or colleague?” Respondents are asked to provide a rating between zero and ten, with ten being extremely likely and zero being very unlikely.

Those who provide an answer of zero through six are considered your “Detractors.” They’re unhappy customers who may damage your brand and slow your growth through their negative comments. Those who provide scores of seven or eight are considered “Passives.” They’re satisfied but aren’t enthusiastic about your company and may be vulnerable to competitors. Lastly, those who score nine or ten are your “Promoters.” These people will likely spread positive sentiments about your brand, refer others, and help your company grow.

To calculate your NPS, subtract your total percentage of Detractors from your total percentage of Promoters.

Again, each industry is different. For instance, health insurance companies score an average of 7.1, while wireless providers score an average of 18.7, per Qualtrics. You may want to partner with an experienced survey company or send NPS surveys periodically to monitor your progress.

Customer Effort Score (CES)

CES surveys measure your customer experience and are a little more versatile. For instance, they can help you identify the ease with which customer service helps someone solve an issue, how easy it is to find information, or how easy it is to use your products or services. This survey may be useful because ease is a strong driver of loyalty.

CES uses a single question as well: “[Organization] made it easy for me to [issue being addressed].” For instance, “XYZ Widget Co. made it easy for me to exchange my product” or “XYZ Widget Co. made it easy for me to order widgets in bulk.”

Respondents are asked to provide a rating between one and seven, with seven indicating they strongly agree and one indicating they strongly disagree. Average scores can be tracked over time to help gauge the experience your brand provides.

Follow-Up Calls

One of the best times to gather feedback directly from customers is a short time after their order is fulfilled. In this case, a member of your team calls to ensure things are going well, asks a question or two of your choosing, and provides assistance if needed. This approach is labor-intensive, but it also allows you to solve issues and identify opportunities for improvement proactively.

Focus Groups

Focus groups involve gathering a group of current customers or people who share traits with your customers and requesting their feedback. Feedback analysis from focus groups is often used when developing new products or services to help ensure the approach is a good fit for the market.

Exit Intent Surveys

Exit intent surveys occur on your website and are generally triggered by the user as they move their mouse to the toolbar at the top – a sign that they’re leaving. These give you the opportunity to find out why someone is visiting your website and identify how well your site is meeting user needs.

How to Grow Your Business with Customer Feedback

Now that we’ve explored some ways to gather customer feedback let’s examine how you can use that information to grow your business.

Improve Products or Services

Nine in ten people say companies should fuel innovation by listening to customers and buyers, SurveyMonkey reports. Develop a system for shortlisting ideas and adding them to your implementation roadmap. For instance, an idea that can be implemented almost effortlessly will likely land near the top of your list, while one requiring more resources will be earmarked for later implementation. The number of requests for the improvement and perceived benefit of implementation should also be considered.

Strengthen the Customer Experience

If your feedback reveals opportunities to strengthen the customer experience, take action whenever possible. You can also use the information to identify gaps in the experience, train your team, and help prioritize feedback initiatives.

Don’t forget to celebrate wins with your team, especially if a person or department is mentioned by name. This can dramatically boost morale, which also impacts overall customer satisfaction.

Improve Your Business Reputation

As BrightLocal data shows, 88 percent of consumers prefer brands that respond to all reviews, while little more than half are likely to use a business that only responds to positive reviews or only responds to negative reviews. For this reason, it’s essential to respond to all reviews.

Develop a process for replying to reviews and ensure the person responding has pre-approved statements that can be used. This way, all responses are befitting of the brand.

Weave Feedback into Your Marketing

Don’t forget to share the news when customer feedback is used to make improvements. Customers appreciate being heard, and your happiness scores are likely to get a boost. Mention that initiatives are the result of customer feedback in emails, on social media, as you send out future surveys, and more.

Feedback can also be shared on your website. For instance, you may wish to develop a testimonials page and share positive customer feedback there. You may also boost conversions by including feedback on action-oriented pages, such as below an order form or contact form.

Get the Capital You Need to Implement a Customer Feedback Strategy

While many customer feedback strategies are relatively inexpensive, you may need a quick cash injection to kickstart a partnership with a survey company, purchase software, or implement ideas you uncover. Invoice factoring can help by accelerating payment on your B2B invoices and giving you immediate payment without putting your business in debt. To explore the fit for your business, request a complimentary rate quote.

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