ASK FOR FEEDBACK TO GAIN VALUABLE INSIGHTS
One of the most effective ways to improve your company’s products, services and customer relationships is to ask customers for feedback. But for many business owners, asking for feedback feels about as comfortable as standing in a glass box in Times Square and asking people to critique their weight. That said, here are some strategies for getting feedback, from simple to advanced. Once you try one, move on to the next level until you’ve built immunity to critique and are ready to really get some valuable comments.
Easy Feedback Strategies:
- Add a one- to three-question survey to your email footer, register receipt, or even invoice. Try a phrase like, “Help us serve you better! Please let us know your answers to the following.” Ask about new products or services they wish you’d to offer, if they’d recommend you to a friend, or even how they heard about you.
- Post a question to Facebook or Twitter. This can be a quick and effective strategy to start a dialogue with your clients and get feedback. Make your questions open-ended and compelling to encourage participation. For example, a client of mine uses Facebook to determine interest in future speaking topics; she posts questions that start with “Have you ever…” or “what was your best/worst….” etc.
Intermediate Feedback Strategies:
- Create an online survey. You can use services like Survey Monkey or Constant Contact to create the survey and email the link or embed it into your website. With any survey, make sure you keep the survey short, offer an incentive, and ask questions that will provide you with actual value—in other words, don’t clutter your survey with useless yes/no answers! In the past, I’ve enlisted the help of professional market research consultants to determine effective questions for clients sending out surveys. Incentives should not require a purchase with your company (such as providing a discount on future services). Instead, consider offering coffee gift cards, iTunes or Amazon.com credits, or even cash.
- Ask your best clients for feedback. Request 15-20 minutes of your clients’ time by phone to ask for feedback about your work. Prepare a list of questions to ask during your phone appointment. Include questions about your products and/or services, your prices, your procedure/process, and customer service (including attentiveness, timeliness, communication, etc). Most people who have gone through the process report coming away with an improved sense of how their business is perceived by clients, and learn valuable information about how they can improve their service and offerings.
Advanced Feedback Strategies:
- Assemble focus groups. Focus groups provide valuable, qualitative feedback for companies. Group members typically represent key demographics of your company’s products and/or services. Groups are hosted by a third party moderator. Focus groups are a great way to test the function of a new product or service (for example, a website’s usability), get opinions/reactions to name candidates or branding concepts, and get feedback on the experience of working with your company. They can also be combined with a short survey, in which participating subjects first complete a survey alone, then come together to discuss their answers. Make sure to compensate each focus group member appropriately for their time; usually in the form of cash or a gift card.I should note that in lieu of in-person focus groups, there are a number of online focus groups available for market research, and increasingly, moderated Twitter and Facebook meet-ups also fulfill the function of a focus group.
- Enlist a board of directors. Many companies large and small enlist the help of a team of professionals to serve as board members. Board members meet to discuss company leadership, finances, marketing, vision, and goal-setting. In each of these tasks, board members provide feedback and direction for the company. Though not a step to be taken lightly, creating a board to direct your company allows you to tap into the skills and creativity of other business-minded professionals. Click here to learn more about starting a board of directors for your company.