The Importance of Customer Feedback

Customer feedback is essential. Every pet brand sets out to provide the best products and services, fill a niche, grow, and succeed. But how can you know if you are hitting the mark if you don’t hear direct feedback from your customers? You can track different vital sales metrics, but the only people who can really tell you if you are succeeding are your customers. Without customer feedback, you will not meet the product needs of your audience.

Most large companies invest in systems and outside companies to solicit and track customer feedback. Small businesses often shy away from collecting customer feedback. They feel it will be too expensive or challenging to tackle; some are simply afraid of what they might hear. Without this data, they will be focusing their efforts on doing what they do as best as they can but never hearing what their customers think, which ultimately defeats the purpose of all of their efforts.

Being proactive and seeking customer feedback will help ensure you don’t stray from the needs of your community. Feedback can guide your brand’s leadership and identify what you need to focus on, from customer service to product performance.

  • What can customer feedback provide to your business?
  • Hear your customer’s voice – build a stronger relationship
  • Identify unhappy customers
  • Learn what is working with your products and services
  • Learn what isn’t working and how you can improve
  • Increase customer retention
  • Guide future business decisions

 

Improve Products and Services
Customers will be the first to identify any issues with your products. There may be minor annoyances or major problems when products become more widely used despite appropriate pre-launch testing. Your daily users will be the first to find these issues. Simple feedback channels mean your team can be notified of problems early, giving you a chance to correct an issue before it gets out of hand.

Build stronger relationships
Creating a system that encourages owners to share their feedback about your products and services keeps the lines of communication open. Instead of a one-way flow of advertising and company branding, you can foster meaningful conversations. When owners are heard, they know they’re valued; this builds a bond and trust with your brand.

Developing new products and services
No one can guide your team better when it comes to innovation than your current customers. What does your target market want or need? What innovations would be valuable to them? How can your products and services evolve to better care for their pets?

Identify your advocates
In an era when user-generated content is gaining significant traction in social media, you want to be able to identify your company’s champions. Soliciting feedback introduces you to those people who LOVE your products. Identifying these advocates can be a great start to making them ambassadors for your brand.

Best ways to collect customer feedback

Collecting customer feedback can feel overwhelming. You can outsource your customer feedback to one of many different organizations, but you and your team can also tackle this on your own.

First, identify your goals. Gather your team and build a strategy. What part of the customer experience do you want to focus on first? Determine the plan for the data you collect. There’s no point in spending time and effort collecting information if you can’t use it to create actionable change. Then brainstorm which strategy to collect customer feedback will best serve your goals.

Email
You likely already have an email list. Use this to seek feedback. Email allows you to ask for more personal feedback than you might get in a survey. Add a line to your emails to let your customer know that your team will follow up with them. Give them a time frame (and stick to it!). Being reliable helps grow the relationship with your customer.

Organize your email feedback
You can use one of many online team organization platforms (Trello, Monday, Asana, etc.) where your team can go and post feedback on appropriate boards/pages. Having a place to record different ideas (new product ideas, product improvement, customer service) decreases the risk of valuable feedback being missed.

Online survey
When designing your survey, keep it short and simple. Only ask questions that will get you the information you and your team have decided to focus on. Use at least a few open-ended questions that allow your customers to share their feedback in their own words. Use consistent, easy-to-understand rating scales. Avoid leading questions – you want to hear what your customer thinks, not try to get them to answer what you want to hear.

Survey providers
There are many different survey providers and most offer a free version. You can create simple, one-question surveys with Qualaroo. SurveyKing and SurveyMonkey both offer free platforms for small businesses. Alchemer and Qualtrics offer more dynamic and sophisticated options.

Phone calls
Conducting customer interviews by phone can add the qualitative insights that help you make sense of qualitative data. A personal interview can allow you to challenge assumptions within your company by getting direct and honest feedback.

Start with an open-ended dialogue to build some rapport with the customer. Tell them why you are calling and why it is crucial to your business to get their feedback. As the conversation progresses, you can get more specific and (with their permission) ask your direct questions. Reflective listening can help ensure that you’ve understood the feedback and demonstrate to your customer that they’ve been heard.

Social media (a two-way conversation)
Many businesses see social media as a platform to push information out about their brand, products, and services. The real value in social media is the two-way conversations platforms can facilitate. The more you engage with your customers and audience (not just selling to them), the better the relationship becomes.

Who do you ask for feedback?

Current customers
Reach out to people who are using your products to learn what they like and what they wish you would do differently.

Lost customers
Gaining feedback from lost customers can be particularly valuable. Understanding why a customer moved to a different brand or product can be helpful for future innovation and pricing decisions. Acting on feedback from lost customers can also gain back those customers. If their feedback is heard and acted upon, you might acquire your newest brand advocates!

Employees
Your team can be an incredible source of feedback. They will often be firsthand users of your products and are the ones on the front line hearing directly from customers. Many businesses fail to tap into the wealth of information within their own organization.

What happens when you learn something negative?
Negative feedback can, conversely, be your most valuable. Identifying what customers don’t like can give your team a clear direction to take action. What you saw as an innovation may be an annoyance to a customer. This feedback can help you focus your product development efforts into areas that will grow your business by meeting your customer’s needs. Customer feedback tells you what you got right; negative feedback tells you where you need to improve. Negative feedback leads to continual improvement.

Barriers to Feedback
Customers will be reticent to share their feedback if they don’t think anyone actually cares. Be clear about when and how they will hear a response from your team.

Spend the Time to get the Feedback
Customer feedback has the power and potential to transform every part of your business, from the customer experience to product use. The smallest companies can tap into this valuable resource with a bit of time and planning.

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