You need to talk to your current and potential customers. Even if your business is doing well, if you don't communicate with your customers on a regular basis, it's almost guaranteed that there are weak or lagging areas of your business that you simply don't know about.
Why It's Important
The biggest reason consistent customer feedback is so important is because there are more than likely problems within your business that you don't know exist. While they may not be causing any real headaches for you right now, that doesn't mean they don't have the potential to erupt. By collecting customer feedback, you'll be able to identify these developing issues and nip them in the bud before they turn into full-blown problems.
The other big reason primarily applies to startups or brand new businesses. It's quite common for founders of these ventures to keep their ideas as quiet as possible. While they think that their silence is a competitive advantage, here's what actually happens to most people who choose to keep their idea or business on the down-low:
- They invest a significant amount of time, resources and money into solving an issue that's not actually a real problem; or
- They follow the same process, only to discover that there's another competitor within their space who's at least doing "good enough" to keep customers happy.
In either situation, the unfortunate bottom-line is that startups and businesses discover that there aren't actually enough prospects who are willing to pay for the product or service to keep things up and running.
When you decide to gather customer feedback, you not only want a tool that makes it easy to collect, but will also take the hassle out of keeping the feedback you collect organized. Although this used to be a task that required a savvy programmer, even a one-man operation can now collect and manage feedback thanks to tools like Confirmit, SurveyMonkey and QuestionPro.
What to Ask
Some of the things that you want to learn from customer feedback include:
- who your customers really are
- how they're actually using your product/service
- if they're using your product in any ways you hadn't even thought of
- what they like most about your company
- what they like least about your company
- what additions and/or changes would make them happiest
If that sounds like a lot of issues to tackle, it's because it is. That's why you don't want to pile all those questions on every customer at the same time. Instead, spread things out so customers can provide feedback without feeling inconvenienced.
Additionally, as you begin collecting feedback, you may want to divide your customers into different segments. For example, you may find that a certain portion are willing to answer as many questions as you ask, while another portion will only deal with the occasional simple question.
About The Author
Brian Waraksa, founder of Raxa Design in Houston, Texas has been in marketing and small business branding since 2002. He writes the Raxa Design blog on issues affecting small business marketing and corporate brands.
Posted on Mon, August 13, 2012
by Brian Waraksa filed under