Understanding how clients view your firm, your product, and your support is invaluable. Feedback from your customers does not just help you make business decisions, but it also points out subtle tweaks which can produce major returns -- and it’s simply crucial for measuring your current customers’ satisfaction. Let’s look at a few ways you can gather insights from your customers.
1. Ask them questions
It’s the easiest way to discover what people want from your product or company -- simply ask them. When a hairdresser asks how you would like your hair, that’s what he’s doing. Unfortunately, most service providers tend to make the mistake of assuming they know what their customers want.
Consider an example from the hotel industry. A group of hotel customers were asked what they wanted for breakfast, and at the same time the serving and catering staff were asked what they thought the customers would want. Comparing the answers, what the customers wanted was significantly different than what the staff predicted they would want.
Always make a point of asking your customers.
2. Use an instant community
An on-demand or instant community is just a place where your customers can come together spontaneously, such as on a social media site or via a forum. They may be created to get the opinions of your customers on a certain project or they might happen on an existing forum.
Compared with focus groups they are extremely affordable and low risk. While they do not provide a large enough opinion base to run a multi-million dollar campaign, they can give you accurate, actionable feedback within days on a shoestring budget.
3. Send out a survey, but make it meaningful
As powerful as surveys are, a lot of people roll their eyes when you mention the word. They’re expecting an "us" oriented survey which never even gets read by the company. On the other hand, if you approach your customers with a customer-oriented survey which really shows dedication to their needs, and make a point of responding to each survey sent in, then you’re almost guaranteed useful information.
4. Spend a day with your customers
The best way to really learn a customer’s business is to visit them. If you’re not sure what your customer’s average day is really like, try and work out a day where you can shadow them. Of course, you won’t want to do this when they’re under tons of pressure and very busy, nor do you want to get in the way, but spending a day in their shoes will give you insights no other method can give.
5. Profile customers on your company blog
If your business model allows you to talk about your customers in detail, try interviewing them for your blog. This will promote their brand, draw attention to your company blog, and really help you learn a lot about them -- all from a quick question-and-answer session.
6. Run a focus group
Focus groups are nothing new but they can reveal powerful insights -- for example London’s Selfridges Food Hall was surprised when a focus group revealed they had not one but three different types of customers. One group were locals looking for personal attention, another group were convenience-seeking after-work shoppers, and the third were tourists who came for something special.
7. Go to your front-line staff
Front-line staff tend to be the most reliable, resourceful, and least costly source of customer feedback. Encourage them to create strong relationships with the clients they serve, allowing customers to freely share their own feelings. Front-line staff then feed back the important information they get to managers and customer care.
Similarly, you should ensure your staff have a high satisfaction level. According to data from Sainsbury’s supermarkets, front-line staff satisfaction and customer satisfaction levels are directly connected. In stores where the staff members are satisfied, invariably the customers are too.
8. Look at usage and sales statistics
Ultimately, people don’t buy what they say they want, they buy what they want. Therefore, the most important and most current information on customer satisfaction is whether they are continuing to buy from you. Just keep in mind that this is no guarantee you are really delivering what they want -- it might just be they see you as the only option, or you happen to be the most convenient or cheapest one.
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