Feedback from your clients and customers on an ongoing basis is essential for several reasons:
- When done the right way, it is seen as a positive thing by your clients as an indicator of your intent to improve and perhaps expand on the products and services you deliver
- As Dan Kennedy says, “Inspect what you expect”. Even if you think your clients are happy, it’s always a good insurance policy to check that from time to time.
- Again, when done properly, the feedback you receive could potentially make a big difference to your business in terms of the opportunities it opens up
So, asking clients for feedback is good.
How you ask and what you do with it is where most companies, in my opinion, get it wrong and make these big mistakes on a consistent basis:
- Make your clients do some work that they don’t want to do.
What I mean by this is that you send them a survey or a questionnaire to fill in. Don’t we all have the belief that there aren’t enough hours in the day to get done what we want to get done? So why would you send your clients some homework to do? You’ve put the onus on them to do something for you which can make them feel resentful and just irritated. Mistake.
- Ask too often.
The best time to ask someone for specific feedback is at the time of the transaction or event. For example, every single time I call iinet for service, they send me a questionnaire the second the service call has been completed. A little disconcerting but I respond most of the time because I happen to think their service is very good. But I don’t respond every time, particularly when poor internet service has enforced down time on me that I don’t need. Having millions of customers is not the same as ten or fifty clients, and this kind of quick survey enables them to keep a finger on the pulse of their many customer ‘events’.
However, asking for feedback too frequently for most small to medium sized businesses can be annoying to clients. It can also potentially be counter-productive if they provide quick responses without much thought, just to make the questions go away.
- Ask questions that fail to deliver insights
What I mean by this is that when you review the answers to the questions you’ve asked, your response is more ‘so what ?’ than ‘so interesting!’ All your questions seem like valid ones at the time, but when you get the responses back you realise there is nothing to be learned or valued in the responses. The only way to make sure that you will receive useful insights from the questions you ask is to do a test run. Failing to do so is a big mistake as all you end up doing is wasting your own time and your clients’ time.
- You don’t share the results
You need to share the results with your team so they understand your clients’ perception of your products and service delivery. They can contribute to ideas and solutions. Most importantly, you need to share the results with your clients. There is nothing worse than asking clients to give up their time to engage with you and help your business improve, and to not close the loop and share with them. Let them know what the general feedback has been from all your clients and what you will do in response to that. Also let them know what you will do specifically in response to their feedback.
- You fail to follow up
This is a huge mistake as clients see their engagement in this exercise as a complete waste of time and won’t do it again. You’ve left a very negative perception in their mind by not following up and taking action.
You must share the results, communicate to clients and tell them what you will do and when, and commit to delivering. Failure to do so is a huge mistake as it provides a crack of potential discontent that makes your clients vulnerable to defection. It is also counter-productive to your business goals of improvement and innovation.
Avoid these big mistakes and use customer feedback as the positive tool it is, when done the right way.