In the world of business, feedback is gold. It is the compass that guides our decisions, the barometer that measures our success, and the mirror that reflects our performance. But let’s face it; your customers will not tell you if everything went right in their interactions with you unless you ask them. The average consumer is bombarded with countless interactions daily, from the barista who makes their morning coffee to the online store where they shop. If every experience is “fine” or “as expected,” it doesn’t warrant a mention. Only the peaks and valleys, the extraordinary and the disastrous, compel customers to share their stories.
How can you improve those peaks of positive customer feedback and reduce the valleys of negative feedback? How do you stand out in a sea of your competitor’s content and create memorable customer experiences? Whether through proactively requesting feedback after a sale or organic reviews online (think Yelp! Or Google business reviews), there are ways to improve your customer’s feedback about your business.
Dare to be Different
In today’s competitive marketplace, where businesses frequently emulate successful models and heed the advice of “influencers” on best practices, positive customer feedback cannot be elusive. By daring to be the exception to the status quo and actively seeking and implementing customer feedback, you can distinctly set your business apart from the competition. This differentiation doesn’t always require a complete overhaul or reinventing the wheel. The essence lies in being authentic, staying true to your brand’s core values, and consistently offering something fresh and tailored to your customer’s feedback. In doing so, you stand out and foster a deeper connection with your audience. Ways to be different include:
- Unique loyalty programs: Tailor rewards and incentives using direct input from customers. This ensures that the program is appealing and relevant, fostering increased brand loyalty and engagement.
- Organizing community events: Host events that resonate deeply with your audience. Understanding their interests and values can create memorable experiences that strengthen community ties and enhance brand perception.
- Showcasing products innovatively: Instead of traditional marketing, present your products in fresh, creative ways. This captures attention and highlights your brand’s commitment to innovation and staying ahead of the curve.
- Communicating with your audience in unexpected places: As I wrote in a recent blog post, many businesses neglect to meet their audiences where they are talking about their businesses online. If you communicate with your customers online on their terms, you will learn new things and create new connections.
Go Above and Beyond
Meeting basic expectations is the baseline for your customers. Exceeding them is where the magic happens and where you have the best opportunity for positive customer feedback. Think about what you currently do. Everything from how you communicate with your customers to the products you order and services you provide. What could you amp up or improve upon? Here are some suggestions:
- Personalization: In an era of automation, a personal touch can make all the difference. This could be a handwritten thank-you note with an order or a personalized recommendation based on past purchases. Depending on what data you have on your customers, you could even send emails with more personalization than just their names.
- Responsiveness: Quick and effective responses to queries or complaints can turn a potentially negative experience into a positive one. It shows customers that you value them and are committed to resolving their issues. Even swift responses to positive public feedback will show potential customers you are an active and engaged business.
Added value: Offer more than what your customers expect. This could mean giving free samples of your products, adding services to help ease the customer’s usage of your product, or educational content related to your product or service. Read my recent blog post about how Home Depot does this with its melding of online and in-person experiences.
Embrace the Unexpected
Surprise is a powerful emotion. When customers encounter the unexpected (in a good way), it creates a memorable experience. In my book, The Content Puzzle, I discuss how emotions play an important part in successful marketing. Humans don’t always make decisions based on logic or reason. Giving them something to feel can give them the impetus to act and hopefully purchase your product or service. Here are some ways to sprinkle unexpected delights:
- Random acts of kindness: Occasionally upgrade a regular customer’s order for free, send a surprise gift to loyal clients, or offer a complimentary service out of the blue. Small businesses are good at doing these types of things, but even big companies can build in “kindness” points in their interactions with their best customers.
- Show them how it is done: Share behind-the-scenes looks at your business, tell the story of how your products are made, or share customer testimonials creatively. People love to see how things work, and behind-the-scenes videos or articles are good, evergreen content to keep in your back pocket.
- Host unique events: Organize unexpected pop-up events or workshops in locations that your customers frequent that offer attendees genuine value. These could be educational sessions related to your products, fun interactive experiences, or a space to relax and enjoy complimentary refreshments. The surprise element of discovering a brand they love in an unexpected place can create a lasting impression.
Ask, Listen, and Act
Lastly, while it’s true that customers might not always vocalize their satisfaction, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek their feedback. Regularly ask your customers about their experiences. You can use surveys, feedback forms, or even direct conversations. But asking is just the first step. Listen to what they have to say and act on it. This continuous feedback loop and improvement will enhance your offerings and show customers that their opinions matter. Furthermore, by actively addressing their concerns and implementing suggestions, you refine your products and services and foster a sense of community. Customers feel valued and integral to your brand’s growth, leading to increased loyalty and trust. Oftentimes, business owners become myopic about their products and services. Your customers often have great ideas for improving your offering. And all you must do is listen.
Customer feedback is more than just comments or ratings; it’s the lifeblood of continuous improvement in the business world. In an era where many brands might seem indistinguishable, those who prioritize and act on customer feedback distinguish themselves. By actively seeking out and valuing this feedback, businesses can pinpoint areas of enhancement, innovate based on real needs, and solidify their customer bond. It’s not just about meeting expectations but about evolving with them. In the end, a brand that listens to its customers and iterates based on their feedback is one that’s poised for sustained success and growth.