Why Startups Should Take a Cautious Approach to Decision-Making Based on Customer Feedback
Timely, accurate and candid customer feedback is an invaluable resource for small businesses looking to continually improve products and enhance services to meet consumer demand. However, it is important to realize that not all input you may receive from customers is equally valuable. Chances are, if you are not directly soliciting feedback, you are only passively receiving phone calls, emails and online reviews from a significant minority of your clients. Making changes to your business strategies based on this small, but vocal, cross section can cause your startup to lose touch with a majority of your customers.
Why Is Customer Feedback Important?
Customer feedback, at its core, helps businesses of all shapes, sizes and sectors tailor products, services, marketing strategies and more to meet the needs and desires of clients better. Without honest, objective feedback from your clients, you are merely guessing at the best model to promote growth and achieve success. Beyond delivering data to help adjust business strategies, feedback, in the form of customer reviews, is a powerful tool to help drive new clients in your direction.
Having an open channel to solicit and receive feedback lets your clients know that your startup is open to input and willing to implement changes to your products and services. This mechanism to interact with your customers can also be an integral part of your brand’s holistic reputation management strategy.
How Much Feedback Is Your SMB Currently Receiving?
Do your customers routinely contact you to provide feedback about the products and services you provide? If you rely exclusively on this passive approach to customer interaction, you could be missing out on some valuable information from the remainder of your clients. In fact, based on data gathered in a recent Apptentive survey, nearly all of the feedback your brand passively receives comes from less than 1 percent of your customer base.
To be effective, feedback should come from a broad cross-section of your customer base, not just a few motivated by an extremely good or bad experience with your company. Making decisions, or initiating changes, based on the feedback from this small sample of customers could put you out of touch with the desires of the majority of your clients. Investing your time and energy into solving problems expressed by a vocal few could lead to poor business decision-making.
Take an Active Approach to Soliciting Customer Feedback
You owe it to the success of your business to ask your customers for feedback. Don’t be shy about it. Most customers expect and appreciate the opportunity to tell you how well you are meeting expectations. However, be sure to respect each customer’s time. Lengthy and cumbersome feedback processes are often a strong motivator for clients to avoid taking the time to connect with you.
Therefore, to make the feedback process as smooth, non-time-intensive and easy as possible, consider using some of the following strategies:
- Develop a short, user-friendly customer satisfaction survey to send to clients.
- Utilize a chatbot function to solicit questions and comments when customers visit your site.
- Direct customers to user-friendly local review sites such as Yelp, Google Reviews or Foursquare.
- Send an email or text message directly requesting feedback.
- Follow up with a phone call after delivering a product or providing a service.
By actively soliciting feedback, you will gain a better perspective from the silent majority of clients which make up your customer base. Use this data to help ensure that future business decisions address the needs and concerns of more than the vocal minority of your customers.