As management consultant Ken Blanchard put it, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions”. Blanchard’s quote makes the point that feedback is vital for ongoing improvement. So why do business owners shy away from gathering and acting on feedback? There are many reasons: being busy, worrying about cost implications, and not wanting to see negative comments about your business.
At get.shop, we love to see entrepreneurs thrive, and we know that feedback is the magic ingredient driving successful online businesses. Let’s look at why feedback is so valuable, how to gather it, and how to act on the things you learn.
Update your job description
Entrepreneurs wear many hats: strategizing, admin, marketing - the work is never done! But there’s one responsibility that needs to be on every owner’s job description - gathering customer feedback. So ask yourself, when was the last time you actively sought comments from customers and prospects? And do you have a method for adjusting and improving your business accordingly? If not, let’s take a moment to think about why feedback is so important.
Understand how feedback can help your business
You might think that sales data is the only feedback that matters. You’re either selling enough or you’re not – right? Wrong. Without a broader set of customer feedback, it’s hard to:
Strategically improve and develop your business in line with the things that your customers prioritize
Nurture a loyal customer community who feel they are being listened to
Drive maximum sales and profits thanks to the elimination of your customers’ pain points
The world’s most enduring and beloved brands are all relentless self-improvers. So let’s follow in their footsteps, and start gathering feedback.
Think you’re too small to seek feedback? Think again!
Many people think ‘formal’ feedback methods (such as online surveys) are for major brands – the kind of companies that have time, resources and customer research agencies. But feedback is valuable for every company, even startups who are just about to launch. ‘Small companies that act like big companies become big companies’. Adopt good habits now, and you’ll be well-positioned to grow your brand.
How to listen to your customers and prospects
Ready to start gathering feedback? There are four main stages of the customer journey - let’s look at each one in turn:
1) Early awareness of your brand
Before people buy your products or services, they are ‘prospects’ - prospective customers. You might be tempted to skip gathering feedback at this stage - but don’t make this mistake. Listening to prospects will help you understand the context in which your customers live, which can give you a competitive edge. How do you tune in to prospects? Here are some strategies:
Social media listening. Head to the social channels that your customers like to use. Check out the hashtags and keywords associated with your business, product and/or sector. And take note of the conversations customers are having. What makes them happy? What makes them mad? What brands do they love? What’s important to them? Social platforms can be hugely revealing. Customers share their insights and preferences every day - so pay attention.
Search engine alerts. Use search engine alert tools (such as Google Alerts) to track the themes and issues that are important to your customers. This will help you learn from trends and developments - and stay relevant to your customers.
Run informal focus groups. You don’t need to pay a research agency to run a focus group. You just need to get organized. Ask your friends and contacts to refer you to people who might be interested in your online shop. Invite them to a virtual meeting (it can be as short as 20 minutes). Ask them questions about the brands they love, the things they prioritize and the things that drive them crazy. And use these insights to sharpen your business plan.
2) Pre-purchase engagement
When customers are browsing your website or reading your socials, there are two great ways you can engage with them:
Pre-purchase surveys and quizzes: Want to get feedback on your website? Want to ask how you can improve things for customers? Use a survey or quiz to ask these questions. Most e-commerce platforms make it easy to offer your website visitors a pop-up survey or quiz. On the downside, these can interrupt the user experience. But if you really want to know what customers are thinking, it’s a great way to ask for their input.
Talk to customers on your socials: if you’re posting on socials, then don’t be shy about engaging with your customers. People love to share their opinions with friendly brand owners. So don’t just post pretty pictures - dive into the comments and get the conversation going. Keep it professional, keep it respectful, and you’ll be amazed how much you learn about your customers’ wants and needs.
3) Post-purchase and long-term loyalty
Ready to turn customers into loyal fans of your brand?
Make repeat customers feel special. Repeat customers are gold-dust for e-commerce businesses. They are the people who recommend your brand to others, and help you build a steady pipeline of sales. So show them that you value them. Simple gestures can go a long way - like sending an email to thank customers for their repeat business, or offering free shipping. Find creative ways to make them feel special.
Offer incentives. Want to run post-purchase surveys? You are more likely to get participation if you offer an incentive. It doesn’t have to be huge - but it will encourage people to spend the time answering your questions.
How to act on feedback
Want to be a brand that delights your customers? Here are three ways to make the most of the feedback you gather:
Schedule time to implement changes
The point of getting feedback is to act on it. So set a regular time in your calendar to plan and implement changes. This might sound like obvious advice, but there are lots of brands that fail to improve their websites, products or customer service. Don’t be one of them - get better every week!
Learn to cope with negativity
Sooner or later we all get negative feedback from customers. The vital thing is not to let your emotions impact how you interact with customers. If you get negative feedback, then always respond with professionalism and respect. Criticism is never fun - but it is the key to building a customer-friendly business.
Tell your evolving story
People love to hear about businesses that listen to their customers. So use your social platforms to tell the story of your evolving brand. Talk about the feedback you’ve received, and how you’re updating your online shop. Signal that you are a company that listens.
Gathering and acting on feedback requires effort - but it will more than repay the time it takes you. So roll up your sleeves and start talking to your customers.
- The magic of customer feedback
The magic of customer feedback