You’ve been that customer: You’re in the store, trying to browse in peace, but growing annoyed at the store associate who won’t stop asking how you’re doing. Even when they aren’t trying to push a sale, even if they are just genuinely intent on making sure you are enjoying your experience, knowing when to inquire about your level of satisfaction (and when to leave you alone) is a skill many retail employees haven’t mastered. Pay attention, these experiences do not beget quality feedback.
Like the over-attentive retailer, you want to know how your customers feel. In fact, you need to know what their level of satisfaction is. The trick, the complex art of approaching them for an update, is to do it in a way that makes them feel valued rather than probed.
Checking In Doesn’t Have to Be Invasive
Collecting feedback from your customers is a critical tool for improving your retention and growing your revenue, and by sticking to simple inquiries that ask the right questions, feedback outreach doesn’t come across as intrusive (or annoying.) In short, you want to attempt to ask questions that:
- are easy to answer,
- directly related to their experiences, and
- convey that you value their needs.
Whose Feedback Do You Care Most About?
The business management company, Lee Resources, claims that for every customer who bothers to complain, 26 other customers remain silent.
That unhappy customer is important, though; 56%-70% of customers who complain will do business with your company again if you resolve their problem.
In other words, if your customers feel valued, you are less likely to lose them.
Still, focusing only on an unhappy customer is like giving all your attention to the one aunt at the family reunion who is famous for complaining. Do what you can to help, but don’t lose sight of all the other people at the reunion.
With the right questions, you can encourage the happy customers, resolve and validate the unhappy ones, and make all of them feel valued.
Sample Questions for Quality Feedback
This sampling of questions will work for pretty much any type of business, and they are basic enough to allow the customer to respond easily.
- Do you recall how you found us?
- How easy was it for you to buy from us?
- Do you feel as though we understood what you were looking for?
- Did we listen to your needs well enough?
- Were you comfortable working with us?
- Did you feel the price you paid was fair?
- How happy are you with your purchase?
- Have you ever had reason to contact our customer service department?
- If so, were you satisfied with the experience?
- How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?
- Is there anything else we can do to provide you with excellent service?
Timing and Convenience Are Everything
The best ways to have your attempt for feedback ignored are to wait too long to ask, and make responding a time-consuming (and inconvenient) process.
The simpler it is to respond to you, the more likely it is that they will, and the communication method that is most convenient for them is texting – because that’s what they are already doing.
By enabling customer texting, they not only see your message quickly, they are able to respond immediately.
This increases convenience, but it also gets their attention while you are still on their mind.
Receiving an email two days later will likely go unanswered, because they are busy thinking about other things. Before you know it, that emailed survey or request is buried by the incoming stream of other promotional messages.
Think about it: If you are the customer and you receive an email 24 hours after patronizing one establishment or another, how likely are you to open it? How does that likelihood compare to that of receiving a text? What if they would have called you? Do you answer? If not, do you call them back?
Then, assuming you open and read the email, how likely are you to click on the link to go take the survey? Or, if they call, do you take the two minutes to complete the survey?
What if you they asked a question you could respond to with 3 touches? “How satisfied were you with the service you received today? Please respond with 1-10, with 10 being very satisfied.” It would take 4 seconds to send your response, giving them the information they need but consuming no more of your time than if you’d been caught off guard with a couple of sneezes.
Become More Consumer-Centric
The benefit of asking for customer feedback (and truly listening to it) is that it allows you to hone your business practices in a way that shows your customers that you are responsive to their needs. By responding, you slowly become more consumer-centric.
One important thing to note: When asking anyone for their opinion, you have to be ready to hear the answer. So remember to brace yourself, and recognize that one person’s experience is not a reflection of the worth of your business. Asking for customer feedback (no matter how brilliantly the questions are phrased) is like asking a three-year-old if she liked the birthday present you bought her; her response is likely to either delight or dismay you.
Regardless of the answer, you’re sure to learn something from it.