Customer feedback is among the most important information your client’s business needs to gather.
It is vital not just for retaining existing customers, but also for attracting new users and increasing brand awareness. More than half of all consumers won’t buy from a business unless it has an average review rating of at least four stars. So, if you’re not prioritizing reviews then you could be losing customers.
Customer feedback can also have a big impact on local search rankings, so it pays to take a proactive approach to gather it.
Collecting and responding to customer feedback enables you to improve your business, products, and services, increasing customer satisfaction and your reputation in the process. Not only that, it also lets you identify problems and complaints, and resolve them faster too.
While a high quantity of reputable reviews is important, diversifying those reviews across multiple channels is vital to winning over increasingly skeptical consumers.
To simplify the process, here are six customer feedback methods (beyond Google My Business) you should prioritize in 2020:
Customer service platforms
Your client’s customer service channels receive important feedback from consumers every day, highlighting common frustrations as well as the things they like about the business.
While collating feedback through your internal customer service platforms (like Zendesk or even just good ol’ email) may not help directly with local rankings, tracking this information allows you to identify areas for improvement, such as particular business policies or products buyers aren’t happy with.
Tracking customer service feedback can be as simple as ensuring your team accurately records comments and complaints. More advanced tools such as text and voice analytics enable you to categorize and review feedback based on the keywords used by customers and the overall tone of their comments.
Furthermore, listening and responding to feedback coming through customer service channels builds a positive brand impression. So though it may not directly affect your position in local results, it could result in more positive reviews online — which is a key ranking factor.
When people discuss businesses both online and in-person, their experiences with service are often one of the first things to be mentioned. This is a big deal, with 90% of consumers making purchases based on their friends’ recommendations and 70% buying based on the opinions they read online.
An active social media presence, including responding quickly to direct messages, makes customers more willing to come forward with issues and feedback. Encourage transparent communication by showing that you or your client are interested in hearing what consumers have to say on more than just your company website.
For many customers, social media is the first and fastest way to provide a business with feedback, in many cases using it to give public feedback while they are still in-store. Almost half of all consumers will use social media as their first means of making a complaint.
This provides invaluable insights into what is impressive or disappointing your customers and gives the opportunity to address any problems quickly. Demonstrating excellent customer care to the potential buyers who may be watching is a major benefit of listening to feedback on social media.
For example, after receiving the following tweet…
Image Source: Buffer
…Tampa-based steakhouse Morton’s decided to go above and beyond for a loyal customer. Not only did they get a server with a full steak meal to the airport in time, but they also did it all for free.
This is an amazing way to show everyone on social media the kind of care Morton’s shows to its loyal customers. I’m not saying you need to be quite that dedicated, but listening to customers and implementing their feedback is a surefire way to build brand loyalty.
Besides the posts made directly to your profile, you can also track mentions of your client’s business across social media sites, either manually or using a tool like Sprout Social, making it easier for your client to know what people are saying about them.
Email is a great way to receive detailed, open-ended feedback about the experiences of individual customers, giving you a better idea of the needs and interests of your key demographics.
Since most people receive dozens of unsolicited emails every day, you’re much more likely to get a response to email feedback requests after a previous interaction. For example, emailing customers after their first purchase from the business or finding out how a customer service interaction could have gone better.
Try to make your feedback questions as straightforward as possible. Here are a few examples:
- How can we improve our service?
- How has our product helped you?
- Why do you use our business?
It also helps to explain why you are asking for feedback by stating what you are hoping to improve, or what you are hoping to learn about customers. Having a say in how your business grows and improves makes your customers feel important.
If you are trying to assess the impact of a specific change to your business, short feedback requests via text allow you to get responses from a large number of customers quickly. This can be particularly useful when a business makes big changes, in order to keep track of how customers feel about the new direction.
Texts tend to be opened almost immediately, and have a high response rate, making it easy to collect feedback from lots of people at once. Due to the simple nature of the answers you’ll receive, focusing questions on specific aspects of the business will produce more actionable information.
You’re more likely to get a response, for example, by asking simple questions that won’t take long for customers to respond to, such as asking recipients to reply just ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or offering multiple-choice questions.
Here are some examples:
- Was our ordering process simple and straightforward? Please reply YES or NO
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our business to a friend?
- How often do you use our services? Please reply NEVER, SOMETIMES, OFTEN, or ALL THE TIME
While SMS doesn’t provide detailed feedback from individual customers, it is a great way to collect easily quantifiable data from a wide audience.
Additionally, SMS can be a big help in supporting your other feedback channels. Text messaging is a great way to contact customers and request reviews on other sites — which, in turn, will help your local ranking efforts.
By including a link to your preferred review site, you can also only remind customers to give you feedback in their free time, instead of in-store or during another interaction. Any brick-and-mortar business will have seen many happy in-store customers ask about your online review sites and promise to leave feedback, but they often forget to do it. A quick text later that day can avoid this common problem.
Requesting reviews by SMS also lets you direct customers to the site you most need new reviews on. Some review sites forbid you from actively requesting reviews though, so make sure to check the rules to avoid your profile getting penalized.
Surveys, polls, and questionnaires allow you to gather a wide variety of feedback from customers and potential leads. Make sure you use the most suitable type of survey for the information you need.
Entry and exit surveys are perfect ways to discover what draws customers to your client’s business in the first place, and what caused them to leave. 91% of unhappy customers will just leave without complaining, so making the effort to get their feedback can provide valuable insights on how you can improve.
Here are some examples of entry and exit survey questions:
- Why did you decide to join us?
- Why are you leaving our business?
- What would convince you to return to our business?
Polls on your website and social media are great ways to gather feedback about customer preferences and what they would like to see from your client in the future. For example:
- Votes for customers’ favorite menu item
- Polls for the next feature to add to your client’s business
- Voting on the biggest advantage of your client’s services
These can also be a great way to learn more about customers’ interests and how or why they use your client’s business.
Reviews are not only an obvious source of customer feedback but also an important factor in local SEO. Google detects searches for local businesses such as ‘Indian restaurants in Chicago’ and chooses businesses for the local pack based on customer reviews, along with many other factors.
In fact, thanks to location tracking, people don’t even need to include their location in the search to receive local results.
Getting your business into the local pack for these searches puts them at the top of the page with their aggregate GMB review score and address visible from the search page.
Users get everything they need to visit the business without having to open a search result or even scroll down. Having great review scores across multiple sites can help to increase your chances of appearing in the local pack, as well as potentially boosting your client’s CTR.
So, while you should make sure you have sufficient Google reviews, it’s important to go beyond GMB and source reviews on other sites, too.
Importantly, all reviews, positive and negative, should receive a reply to show you are listening to feedback and care what customers think. Consumers take note of whether, and if at all, a business replies to reviews, and are more likely to provide feedback if they expect a response. Making a habit of regularly checking your reviews also enables you to pick the best reviews to use on landing pages and testimonials sections.
Staying on top of your reviews on every site can be a major time-sink. A reputation management tool that tracks all your reviews in one place can save time. By adopting Reputation Manager, healthcare agency Vortala enabled their clients to respond immediately to incoming reviews from every site, and analyze monthly reports to improve service.
Using a wide range of feedback methods and varying the types of questions you ask can help to improve your overall reputation tenfold, as well as benefiting other aspects of your business, such as customer service and brand loyalty.
By gaining authentic customer feedback, you will be equipped with the information required to meet, and even exceed, customer expectations. Something that’s vital to the growth of any local business.
Finally, remember to focus your requests on specific features and tasks to ensure detailed responses, and remember that customer feedback can have a significant impact on your business beyond local rankings.