Running a successful business means monitoring profits, being savvy about marketing and setting yourself apart from the competition. However, even if you’re doing all of the above, you are still not doing enough if you’re not actively monitoring and managing customer feedback. No matter what size your business is, it is crucial to pay close attention to your customers. As the power of the internet and social media continues to grow, it is becoming increasingly important that you find ways to utilise new media to promote your brand. Here are some tips on how to succeed in your business by monitoring your clients feedback and addressing their specific needs.
Monitor customer feedback efficiently
The far-reaching effects of technology and social media in particular mean that more than ever before, the quality of every product and service is now under intense scrutiny. Just one poorly managed customer complaint or negative review can have a devastating effect on your company’s reputation. For this reason, it is important that you familiarise yourself with all channels of customer feedback, whether such feedback should arrive directly through email to your company or indirectly through online reviews for instance. Your business will need to systematically monitor all feedback. Resources, whether in-house or outsourced, must be allocated to the identification, collection and analysis of feedback and customer satisfaction.
Assessing customer needs
Many businesses make the mistake of thinking of the customer as some mythical, ideal consumer whose needs perfectly coincide with their products and services. Careful and realistic research and analysis needs to be carried out in order to accurately assess customer needs. It can be helpful to think of the sorts of products and services you as a consumer choose to purchase, and then analyse the pull factors that cause you to choose one product or service over another. Getting professional market research done can yield great dividends, and can involve for instance conducting surveys on a sample of members of the public and then analysing the data to determine what factors can spell success for your business.
Getting information direct from the source
Getting information at the source requires you to make it as easy as possible for customers to contact you with their feedback or questions. This could mean sending follow up emails from clients after completion of a sale, including an easy to use online form on your website, maintaining a phone line dedicated to customer service, requesting that customers fill in a survey after receiving a service or regularly contacting long-term clients. Other than being able to receive contact directly from your clients, you should also be better able to assess your customers’ needs in a more timely fashion. In the information age, nothing is more frustrating for a customer than not being able to get in touch with a company directly about their products and services. Not being able to reach a company directly to address dissatisfaction can lead a customer to leave a scathing review or write an unhappy blog post about your company, making damage control much harder.
Be aware of all customer feedback
While you might be pleased with the positive customer feedback you’ve received directly from clients, it is important to be aware of the numerous channels for indirect customer feedback and use this to your advantage. Positive feedback is particularly valuable when it is quantifiable. For instance, Crowne Plaza Surfers Paradise achieved an average review of 4.5/5 stars and received a Certificate of Excellence for being best wedding venue on the Gold Coast on a popular wedding blog. The hotel then publicised the above with a post on Facebook. Remember only to post legitimate reviews, however, as dishonesty can result in incredible backlash and might even have legal consequences.
Be proactive about addressing issues raised by customers
Even the best businesses encounter dissatisfied customers here and there. Even if the overwhelming majority of your clients are satisfied, that doesn’t mean you can ignore negative feedback. Always follow through whenever you come across any negative feedback, whether this feedback is received directly or is discovered on social media or other channels. Negative comments on social media can be addressed by commenting that the problem is being looked at, and then following up with the original poster in private to avoid escalation of the issue. Time, patience and diplomacy are absolutely necessary when dealing with complaints, and a public relations expert, whether in-house or outsourced, can be of great assistance.
Keeping close tabs on customer satisfaction and managing customer feedback are crucial to building a positive reputation and are an essential step in any company’s marketing and public relations plan. Responding to feedback and providing customers with a direct line of communication can go a long way towards fostering goodwill and ensuring the success of your business for the long term.
About the Author
Victoria Thornton is the Distribution and Relationship Marketing Executive at Crowne Plaza Surfers Paradise. She has been working in the marketing industry for 7 years and collectively has over 6 years hospitality experience.