You’ve started your small business. Your marketing campaign is working well and you’ve got all the business you can handle. The question then is will those same customers be back again and again?
How can you make sure your customers are happy with your products, your customer service, your company? If you are interested in finding out the answer to these types of questions, read on for several methods of tracking and responding to customer feedback.
1. Track Reviews on Your Social Media
If you’ve got a successful business there is a very good chance that you already know about how a social media presence can lead to manufacturing sales growth. The other side of social media however is the ability to track what your customers are saying about you.
One of the most important parts of social media for both creating sales and for controlling your business image is engagement. When people leave good feedback on your accounts make sure to thank them sincerely and quickly.
If someone leaves a negative comment, it is even more important to address it quickly. Most people have seen the Twitter accounts where there are strings of negative comments and canned replies stating “we’re so sorry you had an issue, please contact us at…” followed by a generic customer service email. This is not the way to manage your image.
Other customers don’t see a quick response, but possibly a generic bot and no one on the other end. If you truly need to take it offline, have a real employee respond with their business contact information. Better though is to work through the customer’s pain point and reach a resolution right there on social media.
The world is watching and if they can see that you have taken care of a customer and solved their problem, they will remember it in a way that they won’t a generic response.
2. Search for Mentions on Other’s Social Media
Not everything people say about you and your company will come directly to your own social media. On platforms that use hashtags like Instagram and Twitter, you can simply do searches for hashtagged mentions.
Look for the name of your company but also of individual products you sell. This isn’t a bad way of searching for mentions of your competitors as well. If you see that your competitors are creating a standard pain point for which you can solve, get out there and respond to those unhappy customers, recommending your products as solutions.
However, not all social media platforms rely on hashtags, and even those that use them extensively will have mentions without tags. Sometimes this is because customers forget, but often unhappy customers will avoid tagging you so that it doesn’t drive business your way.
No matter the reason, there are ways to find mentions of your company and products across social media from Facebook to individual blogs.
These small business tools are aimed at your social media listening. Social listening is this whole process of finding mentions of your business and products, but the apps available are able to automate a great deal of the process and can crawl through huge amounts of text to find mentions even if they aren’t marked.
3. Create a Process for Feedback
Social media is great for creating a loop of interactions and showing the real people behind the business, but one of the best things you can do for your business, and the easiest way to find out what people think about your products is to create a process around getting feedback after a purchase.
It used to be that people went to their friends and neighbors for recommendations but the new neighbor is the internet. Not asking your customers for reviews means you are not only not getting direct feedback but you are missing out on testimonials that others rely on to make purchases, and that you can parlay into business loans and investments.
Start developing an automated process that will email customers after their purchase and direct customers to leave reviews directly on your website so you have immediate access and the opportunity to respond.
That means getting their email address when they complete a purchase, even if it is at a brick-and-mortar location. You should have an option for people who are willing to give feedback but don’t want to be added to an email list.
Next, consider how you want your response. If it will be a free-type area, make sure that you ask the customer to list the name of the product they bought and specifics about what they like.
Another option is to ask several rating questions about the product and your service, winding up with a small free-type area. No matter what, with free typing, always give the customer a prompt, asking for specific feedback.
Consider the timing of your review request. If your product guarantees whiter teeth in 30 days, don’t send a feedback email in a week. Give the customer time to try your product. Reviews that say products are okay so far, but they haven’t had enough time to test the products aren’t worth anything for you or your other customers. Once you have established your questions and timeline the easy part of the battle is done.
The fact is that getting customers to leave positive reviews can be difficult. You will certainly hear from unhappy customers, but satisfied customers are less likely to leave feedback, and you need that feedback.
If you have negative reviews, the positive ones are even more critical. One workaround is providing a stellar customer experience. An experience that’s beyond satisfying is more likely to result in feedback. The good news is that even if you just have average customer service if you take the time to ask for a review many customers will respond. If you are still unable to get feedback with an email request for a review, send a second a week later.
Another option is to offer a discount on future purchases for a thorough review now. Sometimes customers feel like they are taking the time they don’t have to spare when they are asked to review products. By creating value around their time they are more likely to respond to your request.
Just like your interactions on social media, it is important that you quickly engage with your reviews. Thank reviewers for their positive feedback. If you receive negative feedback always acknowledge the customer and take responsibility for the problem, even if you are not directly responsible.
4. Make the Most of Negative Feedback
You’ll never make every customer happy. Sometimes the product just isn’t the right fit. While it is hard to read or hear negative feedback about your products, use it to your advantage.
The first thing to keep in mind is not to take negative feedback as a personal attack and react as such. Beauty component maker Z Palette was pulled from retail partners and lost business after the owner attacked customers leaving negative feedback. The impact of poor self-control over negative feedback can be immediate but also long-lasting.
Instead, use negative comments to create potential future customers and to improve your products.
First, acknowledge the customer’s issue and thank them for reaching out. Try to understand the customer’s pain and see if there is something you can do to fix their issue. Even if the fix for their issue is sending them to a competitor, everyone who sees your commitment to customer service will remember you, not the business you recommended.
Next, if you see the same type of issues again and again in your feedback, it is time to apply that information to your next product iteration. If you make software this can be a bug fix or upgrade. Let customers know that you’ve heard them and are making fixes to your products, or adding features they’ve requested.
For physical products, you don’t need to send out new products based on recommendations but you may want to offer customers a new product if their issues were with bugs in the product design. If you do offer to replace their products, make sure you give them a timeline of when an upgraded or repaired product will be available to them.
Remember that with a team of employees, not everyone will see feedback. If you are the one dealing with reviews and requests, it is important that you speak for the customer within your company. Don’t reassure a customer and then forget about it.
Take concerns and requests to the appropriate people in your company, being the voice of the customer and explaining the situation from their point of view. Your designer may not have the same point-of-view as the stay-at-home mom who is your customer. Follow up with your team regarding what can be done and then take that information back to the customer. Closing the loop can turn one bad experience into a customer for life.
Tracking feedback from your customers across your own website and social media will ensure that your success carries over from today well into the future. With the right attitude, you can keep your customers and create new ones all with a single response.
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Paisley Hansen is a mother of three and a small business owner. She spends her time caring for her children and taking her business to the next level. When she’s not busy working or taking care of her kids, you can find her at the gym or curl up with a good book.