It is so much simpler today to find out what customers want, than it ever was before. Of course, the same things that make it so much easier to find out how best to serve customers can also make these people more difficult to satisfy. Analysis and data can be very helpful, but they simply won’t do the whole job. What is important to remember, and easy to forget, is that customers are real people, not just figurative characters or statistics. Real people have voices, and like to be heard. There is no simpler way to find out what people want than by just asking them. In addition, today, people have so many ways to be heard that it is dizzying. What these people have to say may not always be positive or encouraging, but the fact is, they will probably be saying it whether or not a business actually listens. It’s probably better to hear what they have to say, and maybe even give them a place to say it.
Surveys are a great way to provide customers with a way to give feedback. There are many different types of surveys and ways to present them, but probably the best way is to make them short and optional. Surveys should be easily accessible, but not too ‘in your face’ by popping up in the middle of shopping or ordering. While many people are willing, and even eager to give opinions, some would rather not, and making it something that cannot be avoided is probably not wise. A brief survey with yes/no or always/sometimes/never options are a good start, maybe available after check out in the online shopping cart. Some shopping cart creators such as Shopify even give you the option to add these in right from the start. Longer surveys with more information are useful and can be available as well, but let customers seek them out, rather than pushing them. Surveys can provide straightforward data that can be quickly put to use.
Sometimes a customer has an issue or comment right away, and they may forget it or not bother to put it forward if there isn’t a space ready-made for such a situation. Feedback boxes are a great way to solve this dilemma. Sometimes a survey won’t catch or address a certain issue, and having a dialogue box completely empty which a customer can fill with his or her own words is more satisfying and helpful. There is no need to have a specific prompt, simply, “How can we do better?” and a space for someone to type an answer in as many words as he or she may need.
Social Media and Blogs:
Here we get to the newer methods that make it even easier to gather pertinent customer information. Blogs or sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, etc. are very popular and accessible. Now that the average person is very likely to be carrying a cell phone or mobile device with internet capability, more and more people are connected and active on these sites on a regular basis, and they use them to research products, ask advice, and voice opinions. A company can simply search these sites for references to its business, but it is even better to actually create pages in order to be represented and encourage more feedback. Providing links on the company website to a related social media page is a great way to get even more use out of these. Moreover, a blog can be a direct conversation with previous, current, and potential customers, and a way to provide better and faster customer service.