Failure. It’s an inevitable human experience. We will all fail occasionally. But when a business fails in any key area, the results can impact its success.
And what makes a business successful? Customers making purchases. And what keeps customers making purchases? Satisfaction with your products or services and, of course, your relationships with them. The question then becomes how you determine the satisfaction level of your customers.
Monitoring customer satisfaction means getting feedback from them. And that feedback involves two key activities – reaching out to them for their reviews and comments and listening/responding to unsolicited feedback that may appear anywhere on the web.
GETTING SOLICITED FEEDBACK
We have all received emails from companies with whom we have done business. They want to know our level of satisfaction with products, with ease of ordering, with shipping, etc. If we have had an interaction with customer service, they may also request feedback on that experience.
Unfortunately, a lot of customers ignore those emails. Their experience was fine. When a customer has a bad experience, though, the company is probably going to get an “ear full.” This makes it difficult for a company to accurately assess its performance, information about its customer demographics, and then to make business decisions based upon data rather than “gut” feelings.
So, how does a company get a broader base of response to its surveys? Here are some strategies that should help:
1. Keep it Short
People looking at a long survey are immediately discouraged. They think about the time involved and how much they will have to focus on answering all of those questions. They may then either exit or answer only the first few before submitting.
Far better that you break up your surveys into smaller chunks and spread them out a bit. And repeat the most important questions that you definitely want to analyze. Also, place those most important questions at the beginning, so that you still get answers from people who grow tired and quit.
2. Offer Something
An incentive is always a good thing. Give your participants a discount on their next purchase or some freebie. You will get far greater participation if you do.
3. Don’t Lead the Witness
In the courtroom, leading the witness is not allowed. You should not do it either. If you pose your questions so that you get the answers you want, your survey is useless. There is a psychological need to please questioners, and so people will often give the answer they think you want. Instead of asking what makes A better than B, ask, which is better, A or B?
4. Be Careful About Question Ordering
It’s called priming, and many amateur survey writers do this unconsciously. Consider this example:
The first question is, “What is your favourite Christmas tradition?” The second question is, “Do you think it is a good idea to put up outside lighting during the Christmas season?”
The respondent is going to answer the second question in terms of the first. If outside lighting is not the favourite Christmas tradition, then the importance of outside lighting will be answered as minimal.
On the other hand, if the respondent is asked the second question first, they will focus only on outside lighting, not on their own personal priorities. This order of questioning will result in more “scientific” results.
In short, priming is getting respondents to focus on one issue as they answer the following questions.
5. Keep the Language Simple
Respondents do not want to think about what a question means. They don’t want to decipher sophisticated vocabulary, nor do they want to read long complex sentences. They just become confused and will shut down.
If you are not certain about the simplicity that you need, you may need to get another opinion. Having a second set of eyes review the questions and point out anything that might be confusing is always a good idea. And, if you find yourself rather continually getting too sophisticated or complex with question construction, contract with an experienced survey producer.
It’s often a good idea to use a vocabulary consistent with a 7th-grade reading level.
6. Provide Space for Open Responses
While rating scales are easy to analyze, it is also important to allow respondents to expand on their responses, if they want to do so. For some people, “black and white” answers do not fully explain their feelings or opinions.
You will want to provide some open-ended questions, too, for those who want to give more feedback. Marketing pros with Trust My Paper, an academic writing service, found that more open-ended questions yielded better results than solely a rating scale. Clients gave feedback that actually informed decisions for improvement – decisions they believe have been responsible for increased sales.
7. Getting the Analysis Right
If you are not a statistician, don’t try to analyze your own survey results. You’ve got good information, but it needs to be crunched correctly. Factors and combinations of factors and can be complex to analyze for sound conclusions, so hire a statistician – graduate students are quite reasonable.
RESPONDING TO UNSOLICITED FEEDBACK
Issues, concerns, and complaints are easier to voice today. And web users are prone to provide them – on social media and on review websites. Of course, you would like for your customers to laud your great products or services and recommend you to their communities. And this certainly does happen.
But it is the customer with a bad experience who is more likely to comment – it’s just human nature. In fact, unhappy customers are three times more likely to post feedback than happy ones.
Finding that negative feedback and responding rapidly is critical to your reputation. Here are two things you must do:
8. Get a social monitoring tool.
There are plenty out there. You want one that will alert you any time your brand is mentioned anywhere on the web. It may be on your own social media platforms, but it may also be on someone else’s feed, on review sites like Yelp, or within articles/blog posts.
9. Daily check of alerts
Make it a part of your or your team’s daily order of business to receive those alerts, access the sources, and craft responses that show you care. It’s easy to become defensive, but brands that have done that lose customers. Be empathetic, offer solutions, and do so publicly, right where the feedback has been found. If you do not have the time or staff to do this, contract with a monitoring service. You cannot afford not to.
In the end…
Customers are literally the backbone of your business success. And the competition for them is growing. You cannot keep your current customer base and add to that base without fully understanding their needs and their pain points and addressing them. You address them by getting the information you need and by listening. Seek their feedback and opinions; listen and respond to what they say about you. Then, make the changes that will give them the best experiences with your brand.
Thanks for this amazing guest post written by Marie Fincher.
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Marie Fincher is a digital content director at Trust My Paper company with a background in marketing, technology, and business intelligence. She frequently writes about data science, BI, new marketing trends and branding strategies. Marie gradually changed her focus from working in marketing to writing about it.