The importance of listening to your customers
Customer reviews and feedback can be very important for your business. A lot of people are scared of reviews, which is exactly why we are here to tell you a few ways of how you can turn reviews into a positive thing.
In case you haven't already noticed - these days, customers have a voice louder than ever. For small businesses, it’s crucial that you listen to your customers. Why? Simply because your business is not a business without them. You need them - so why not make them need you?
But don't worry - We’re here to give you some tips and advice for different ways on how you can listen to your customers, and what to do with their feedback.
It’s all about understanding your customers
You don't need to be a psychic to try to understand your customers, what they want, need, or experience. You just need to listen to them, and there are numerous actions that you as a small business owner can take to better understand your customers.
Your business might be successful, but you’ll only truly be successful when you as a business owner can understand the drivers of this success. Once you become aware of this, you can better your business and grow towards becoming even more successful.
Especially for small businesses, customer reviews have the power to make or break a business. I'm sure it’s no secret to you or any other small business that the key to success starts and ends with your customers. Your customers need to be your number 1 priority, which means making them happy, listening to their needs and adapting your business accordingly.
One way of paying attention to your customers is listening to your customer reviews. This not only includes reading your reviews but actually doing something about it - analysing, adapting and using these reviews as constructive criticism.
You should remember to listen to both the bad and good customer reviews. If there’s something causing dissatisfaction with your customers, it’s important that you become aware of it so that you can make improvements.
In the same way, if you have very happy customers it’s almost equally important for you to know what it is that drives this and how can it be duplicated for other customers.
Keep in mind that in order for you as a business to receive customer reviews, you need to make it possible for your customers to do so. This means laying out the foundation for inviting your customers to engage with you and take time out of their own personal lives to leave a comment or statement with you.
It’s so easy for customers to dismiss doing something if they don’t think it will make enough of an impact to balance the time and effort they put into it. This is exactly why you need to make customers feel comfortable enough to be able to talk to you, and even more so that you’ll truly listen to what they have to say.
We’re all human beings who like to be addressed and acknowledged - and your customers are no different. If your customers take the time to leave a review, the least you can do is take the time to answer them, acknowledging that you take them seriously and value their opinion. Whether they leave a positive or negative review, you should always answer them in a positive tone.
Those that are happy - thank them, and let them know that you value them
Those that are unhappy - thank them for letting you know, and ask them how you can make their experience better in the future
Keep in mind that you need customers in order for your business to succeed!
Try to picture it this way: you’re in competition with all of the other businesses in your industry and customers are the judges, with cash as their vote. When they purchase from you, they give you their vote. When they purchase from somebody else, you lose their vote.
So how can you keep ensuring you get their vote? Well, you need to show them what they want to see, you need to account for what they need and you need to go beyond satisfying them.
Much like reviews, customer feedback is a valuable way to learn from your customers and to adapt your business in the direction that will best be able to satisfy your customer needs now and in the future.
Where reviews tend to be more product or service based - in other words, quite specific - feedback often addresses the whole service and experience as a package. Customer feedback is another way of implementing change in your business, to better satisfy existing customers, and attract new customers in the future.
Customer feedback is often a useful way for you to know what improvements to your product or service you should focus on, and how to grasp the market.
There are many different ways that you can receive customer feedback. Some simple ways you should consider include the following:
Following up with customers after a sale (email or phone call)
Sending out customers surveys
Having a comment or service level satisfactory machine at check out
Offering customers 10% off their next purchase if they answer an online questionnaire about your business
Asking customers that switched service providers what made them switch
Having employees, managers and owners available and physically visible to personally talk to customers face-to-face
Receiving, analysing and learning from your customer feedback is another way of performing market research. There are many internal aspects within your business that you’ll have to get right in order to succeed and grow, but the most crucial aspect in our opinion is, and will always be, your customers.
The future of your business in terms of success and growth stems from all these aspects coming together to create a flow. As a small business, you should never forget that you need your customers more than they need you.
How your customers can help shape your business
The key to listening to your customers is to actually do something with that information. In other words, you need to act on what you hear, what customers say and what they talk about.
When you listen to your customer feedback, you’re fundamentally providing a window to manage customer experience, customer satisfaction, fuel customer loyalty, improve your products and services, reduce churn rates, and many more.
Believe it or not, your customers have a weird way of anticipating the future of your business and can help you, both directly and indirectly, shape your business in the right direction.
Going back to the very first point we mentioned, your customers have a loud voice. So loud, that when they praise you, it’s powerful, and when they condemn you it is damaging. It’s up to you to help them use the voice they have to benefit you and your business, if you give them the right reasons to!
It’s never too late to start listening to your customers. Start perceiving feedback and reviews as your best friend, not your enemy.