What do people really think about your product or service? What’s their honest opinion, perspective, desire for how you might change things up in the future? How would they describe your business to one of their friends? All those awesome (and…sometimes awful) insights are available to those willing to dig up and digest a little customer feedback.
Customer feedback offers one of the most valuable insights into how your business is performing and, perhaps more importantly, how your business will continue to perform in the future.
This article is about how businesses can find, collect, analyze, and act upon their customers’ feedback.
Finding Customer Feedback: The “Obvious Sources”
Social Network Platforms
Social media is usually a good place to start, especially Twitter. Unlike other social media networks, Twitter is an open platform; anyone can access the information, regardless of whether they are a Twitter user or not.
A simple search for the business name or a hashtag search related to your business might reveal some interesting feedback you would miss otherwise.
Facebook is another platform that small businesses may find useful, especially as it is the most common network for customer feedback. 66% of customers are most likely to use Facebook to share their views about a particular business.
Facebook groups relevant to your industry or location are well worth checking out, but for more up-to-date, real-time information, a direct search may be more valuable. Searching for the business name, filtering by ‘posts by everyone’, will display all mentions of the business made by Facebook users, which may include reviews, check-ins, or images.
Basic tools such as setting up Google Alerts, will notify you when the business, brand, product, service, or any other relevant data is mentioned online, through pretty much any resource.
If you’re using Google Alerts, think outside the box when it comes to search terms. You may find it useful to add terms relating to your direct competitors, especially if you are a start-up that doesn’t yet have a solid base of consumers/clients. In general, this can show you what is your competition doing right and wrong and you can use this data to your own advantage.
- Online communities such as Baby Center (great for family-focused businesses) and Reddit
- Dedicated review websites like Fit Small Business and Capterra
- Local listings (again, Google Alerts can be useful here)
Sales and Support
You will always have someone who is in a direct contact with a current or potential client (especially in the B2B setting) and they should be able to pick up some useful hints that will help you analyze what is essentially your target audience.
Finding Customer Feedback: The Not-So-Obvious Sources
Sometimes, it’s necessary to look for ‘hidden’ feedback. It’s important for small businesses to remember that not every customer will leave feedback that’s glaringly obvious. In fact, only 50% of those that are asked to leave a review will actually do so.
On top of that, feedback doesn’t have to be something that is written or voiced. Sometimes, actions speak louder than words.
This means that just looking at the online behavior of your customers can give you some interesting insights.
Online behaviors leave a different sort of feedback that can be beneficial. Google Analytics, for example, can get you insight into many useful SEO metrics for your website which can give you valuable indirect feedback. The best thing of all – it is completely free to use!
By looking at metrics like bounce rate and time spent on a particular page, you can extrapolate which of your products or features are more interesting to your potential customers. If you have access to advanced analytic tools, you can even check things like which frequently asked questions are your prospects looking at the most and use that information to alleviate their concerns through content or on-page optimization.
Analyzing and Learning From Your Customer Feedback
Here are some helpful tips for customer feedback analysis:
- Consider the source of the feedback. Research shows that while Facebook tends to have the highest proportion of positive feedback, review websites have the most negative feedback. Therefore, a single source of the feedback isn’t always a good indicator of the situation as a whole.
- Try to identify trends. Is a particular product/service being discussed frequently? Is feedback mostly related to one particular area of the company? It’s worth highlighting these trends to gain an idea of which areas are strong, and in which areas there is definite room for improvement.
- Look for root causes. Sometimes, the surface data may not be enough to help you improve, and it’s necessary to analyze further. Can feedback be traced to a particular team or employee? To a specific time frame, to specific actions taken by the business, or too high or low sales figures?
- Consider both positive and negative feedback. Feedback isn’t intended to only identify problems; it’s also intended to highlight areas where things are going well, enabling you to understand more about what works and perhaps extend successful concepts to other parts of the business.
- Analyze customer lingo. What words or phrases are your customers using in your conversations? Not only can adapting to your audience’s style help you to create content (product descriptions, for example) that’s more engaging to that audience, but it can also help you be used for SEO, especially for keyword research and on-page optimization.
While we all know that customer feedback is important, yet many small businesses fail to realize why it’s also essential to know where to look for this feedback, and what to do with it. Feedback isn’t just about individual experiences; it’s a vital tool that, collectively, can help your business to understand more about its real customer base (rather than target audience profiles).
Overall, it’s important to remember that customers are far more likely to share negative experiences than they are positive ones, and that feedback can sometimes provide us with a skewed overview. Remember that even if the analysis does show that there’s something not quite right, there’s no need to panic.
PS. When you ask for feedback, it’s important not only how you ask but also when you ask. The response rate and the quality of feedback can differ enormously based on how and when you ask. But that’s for another article.