Why feedback is essential for your business
To find out what your visitors really think, collecting customer feedback at every step of the customer journey is essential. But importantly, you also need to act on that feedback to make changes and improvements that can transform your business, and at the same time help to transform your local area.
The benefits of gathering feedback
Listening to your visitors and acting on feedback is the cheapest and most effective way to grow your business. It will provide you with the knowledge and tools to:
- Attract new customers by providing better products and services.
- Improve customer loyalty.
- Generate more repeat business.
- Improve your business reputation.
- Increase referrals from customers.
- Identify and deal with problems in your business at an early stage.
- Improve employee morale.
Customer feedback is knowledge, knowledge is power, and that's what you need to make a success of your business.
How to gather feedback
Many visitors don’t find it easy to give feedback so you need to make it as easy as possible for them. However you decide to do it, be clear on the benefits for both you and them. Nine out of ten customers who are dissatisfied elect to say nothing, so don’t presume that no news means good news!
The 5 key rules to collecting feedback are:
- Make it quick
- Make it easy
- Make it worthwhile
- Make it fun
- Make it confidential
The basic tools
There are lots of different types of feedback. The key is to make sure you encourage a broad range from your customers by identifying opportunities to collect feedback at all the various ‘touch points’ in the customer journey.
As we’ve already identified, potential customers are increasingly using peer-to-peer reviews and online sources to help them make a decision before they book.
By actively encouraging existing visitors to leave reviews of your business, and making it easy for them to do so by providing links to TripAdvisor and your social media pages, you are likely to attract more interest and bookings. There are a number of practical, free-to-use tools that can help you do this, such as TripAdvisor Express Review and Hootsuite. For more information, see our section on ‘Digital developments to help you manage your business.’
During the visit
Comments cards, questionnaires and suggestion boxes can be a great way of getting feedback on a new menu or a new experience that you have introduced, but when designing them you need to be clear about what information you are looking for and how you will use it.
Use promotional collateral such as business cards, envelopes, tickets, till receipts, insert slips, posters and table talkers to tell customers how they can provide feedback. That way you’ll encourage feedback at every point of the customer journey.
QR codes can provide a fun and interactive way for users to provide feedback on the move. Link the QR code to your website or social media channels for the best results.
Electronic devices such as Handheld PDAs (Personal Digital Assistance) allow you to set specific questions and can be a useful tool for measuring customer satisfaction at the time of visit.
Sometimes the best feedback can be gathered simply by chatting to customers! Encouraging staff to ask specific questions on new products and services that you have introduced costs nothing, and the resulting feedback can be invaluable in helping you to make any necessary ‘tweaks’. Staff can also signpost to formal feedback channels and encourage customers to leave online reviews.
Encourage visitors to share their views on social media channels or travel review sites such as TripAdvisor, and make it easy for them to do so by providing links from your website. TripAdvisor Express Review is a great tool to help you do this.
For larger businesses or destinations, facilitated focus groups can be an effective means to assess customer views and perceptions about a particular experience or destination.
A number of companies in the marketplace also offer mystery shopping services, whereby they will engage consumers from a variety of different backgrounds to visit your business and provide an assessment of your customer offer.
How to use feedback to grow your business
While many businesses collect feedback, only a small proportion use the information they gather to make improvements to products and services. A smaller number still tell customers about how their feedback has been used.
- It’s important to respond to customer feedback, both good and bad. Acknowledging favourable feedback will make customers feel appreciated. Responding to negative feedback in a constructive and positive way will provide reassurance that customers’ views are valued.
- Set up a system to record comments. That way you’ll have something to refer to when you make future business planning decisions.
- Get into the habit of analysing feedback regularly so that it becomes part of your business routine.
- Train staff to handle both positive and negative comments.
- Make customer feedback an integral part of your business plan. Identify what products, systems and training you’ll put into place as part of the process.
- Recognise and reward staff and customers. If particular members of staff are highlighted as offering exceptional customer service, make sure you acknowledge this. Similarly, think about how customers might be rewarded for providing constructive comment that helps improve your business.
- Use feedback to market your business. If you receive positive comments from visitors, shout about it on your website and social media pages. It will all help to ‘build the buzz’ about your business!
- Use customer feedback to help build a CRM (Customer Relationship Marketing) system, then use it to keep in touch with your customer base. Remember, it’s 9 times more expensive to attract a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.