Most business leaders I talk to agree that gathering feedback from customers is critical. If you haven’t been listening, you’ve missed out on lots of valuable insight, suggestions and signs of trouble. It’s never too late to start listening. But how should you do it?
Most executives and business owners say the same thing, however: “I don’t have the time.”
I understand, believe me. Time is precious, and who knows anyone who really has plenty of it these days? How about a few “set it and forget it” ideas? Ok, maybe you shouldn’t forget entirely, but here are a few ways you can start gathering feedback now:
1. Set up alerts for what matters to customers.
Use Google alerts, Mention, or other services to find out what concerns your customers the most. If you are a B2B organization, set up alerts for your clients, their customers, and key employees. If you really want to know how to keep customers happy, you must track what’s important to them, not just your product name.
Don’t forget to track your competitors! Find out what their customers complain about so you can create an experience that answers to their cries. Look for clues about their next innovations so you can keep up and stay in the game.
2. Find your customers out in the wild.
Google Blog Search is a great resource for finding out where and how your customers are discussing the topics that matter most to them. There are millions of blogs out there, and yet very rarely do brands or business owners actually participate in the real conversations. Customers often turn to peers online for suggestions or advice about specific products. Make sure you are paying attention!
3. Use Twitter as a direct line.
Setting up key search terms on Twitter can really help you hear what your customers are discussing. But here’s the secret: Don’t just search for your brand names. Think of WHY customers would use a product like yours. Customers often don’t use specific brand and product names, or the marketing speak used within your industry. Think like a customer and you’ll hear much more clearly.
4. Leverage customer complaints and suggestions by saying “Tell me more.”
Most customers won’t take the time to contact you directly, so it’s important to listen up when they do! Asking for more specific information will get to the root of the problem – not just what broke the proverbial straw on that camel’s back. Invite dialogue and thought. I promise, it’s well worth your time.
See? It’s not so hard! But it’s not easy, either. It does take time, but if you commit to your end of the conversation, you’ll get more than enough actionable feedback from the other side.