Customer feedback is crucial to running a successful business. From improving your customer experience to perfecting your services or products, customer feedback will tell you most things you need to know to grow your business.
However, gathering quality customer feedback isn't always easy. Business News Daily talked to business owners about how they gather feedback. Here are five tips.
1. Use email marketing.
Perhaps the easiest way to gather customer feedback is through email marketing drip campaigns. There are many tools available that make it easy to automatically send an email once a client receives a product or service.
In an email, you can include links to review websites or to an online survey. You can also include a personalized note. Meghana Prasad, owner of Meghana Prasad Makeup & Skin Care, says she includes a note explaining that reviews are a huge source of referrals.
"I use automated emails to reach out to brides after their wedding … I provide them a link to whatever site I'd like them to review me on and make it super easy for them to click through and do so," Prasad said. [Interested in email marketing services? Check out our best picks.]
2. Use social media.
From Instagram's Questions tool to Twitter polls, there are many creative ways to ask for feedback on social media. You can also boost a social media post to reach more customers.
Social media is also a great way to gather unsolicited feedback, since people already use social media to complain or praise products.
"Most big brands have social media managers that monitor, track and respond to customer feedback via social channels," said Sean McDade, founder and CEO of PeopleMetrics.
3. Try traditional methods.
While the internet and social media have made it easy to do everything digitally, sometimes traditional methods such as mailing cards and phone calls also work.
"The method proven most effective for us is sending thank-you cards to clients after we build them a website," said Alexa Kurtz, marketing strategist and PPC specialist at WebTek. "We design and print business-card-sized review cards with a QR code that directs straight to our Google review page."
Peter Yang, co-founder and CEO of ResumeGo, sends an email 30 days after working with clients to see if they were able to find a job or move up in their career with their new resume.
"For those [clients] that don't respond, we randomly select some of them to call by phone to get their feedback," Yang said. "We use the feedback our clients give us to not only come up with improvements to enhance the customer experience, but we also use it to improve the quality of our end product."
4. Keep it simple.
People are busy and likely to ignore emails asking for reviews if it's going to take a lot of time.
"The key to gathering customer feedback is to make the feedback process stupidly simple for your customers while at the same time soliciting feedback via multiple channels (e.g., email and text message)," said Carl Christian, owner of Atlanta Green Maids.
Christian said his company sends customers an email or text with smiley faces: A green face means a great job, a yellow one means it was OK, and a red one indicates there was a serious problem with the work performed. With this method, the company maintains about a 70 percent response rate.
5. Offer an incentive.
People are more likely to help you out if something is in it for them. The easiest way to encourage customer feedback is with an incentive, such as a discount code for their next purchase or a chance to win a gift card.
Shawn Breyer, owner of Breyer Home Buyers, offers a $50 Amazon gift card if a client fills out a survey thoughtfully. "Before we started giving the $50 gift card, we were only getting 17 percent of people to fill out the survey. Now 61 percent of customers that we send the survey to fill it out."
However, it's important to only offer incentives and gift cards for customer feedback through a survey. It's dishonest and could hurt your reputation to offer freebies in exchange for positive reviews on sites such as Google, Yelp or Facebook.