group of happy people jumping for joy as the sun sets

Are Your Customers Happy?

group of happy people jumping for joy as the sun sets


Customer satisfaction is a strong indicator of your company’s future financial performance.  If your customers are a little unhappy with your product or service, they will buy less or go elsewhere. If they’re really unhappy, they’ll start telling others not to buy from you as well! So it’s important to know how satisfied they are.

Of course when I say satisfied, these days you need to more than just satisfy your customers. You need to delight them. They need to be surprised by your product and service values. They genuinely need to be happy with your company, or they will go elsewhere.

Customer feedback can also harvest ideas and inspiration for future product and service improvements, as well as identify areas for growth or gaps in the market.

If your sales are dropping off, there is something that needs to be fixed. For example, there may be a problem with the quality of your product or service delivery.

Given the often limited financial and time resources, how can you as an SME owner get feedback from your customers? It doesn’t need to be sophisticated. Let’s consider some methods.

Cheap and easy online survey tools are now readily available, such as Survey Monkey, so you can utilise these with a bit of help from your IT support. The internet has transformed feedback into a treasure trove of information anytime a customer buys (or decides not to buy) from your online business. There’s an array of feedback tools on the market. Each time a customer buys, you can give them the opportunity to share their experience and find out what they think about your site with branded, intuitive and unobtrusive feedback.

There are various online tools that can help you. Social media platforms can be a great way to engage with your customers and get their feedback. With billions of people around the world already engaged in these social media communities, your presence makes it easier and more convenient for those valuable customers to get in touch with you rather than by phone.

Use your email list newsletter to ask for qualitative feedback. These are open-ended questions about their last experience with your company. This is an obvious option, but it’s often overlooked. Since the customer is communicating one-on-one, they’re less likely to put on a show, as they would on social media and are more likely to give genuine feedback. Another option includes a short telephone survey with a sample of customers, contacting them soon after their purchasing experience. The survey can be conducted by your staff. However, if you can afford it, engaging a professional survey company to do this on your behalf is more likely to elicit frank feedback due to the anonymous nature of a third party.

Another method is engaging a secret shopper service to test your sales and service delivery process. Again, while it’s more expensive than DIY methods, it does provide great insights into how customers experience your sales funnel, staff and customer service.

Consider offering an incentive to customers to give feedback. It is usually better to offer a high-value incentive to some participants rather than spreading out the reward evenly. For example, offering one in ten people who complete the survey a $100 gift voucher works better than offering each participant $10.

Whatever approach is taken, three fundamental questions need to be asked.  These questions alone will provide valuable feedback and prompt improvement actions:

  • How satisfied are you with our product or service?
  • Would you recommend our business to others?
  • Do you have any suggestions for improving our product or service?

It’s a good idea to ask your customers regularly for feedback. How regular depends on your situation. For high value and highly personal services such as health treatments, asking often would be acceptable. For low value and impersonal services such as lawn mowing, asking once a year would probably suffice.

It is very useful to contact past or lapsed customers and ask them why they stopped buying from you. While it may be awkward, you have nothing to lose and much to gain from asking. You just need to ask in a respectful and polite manner.

If you get great feedback from a customer, ask them if you can make it public. For example, quoting some or all of their feedback on your website, or asking for an online review such as Google Review.

The best method for your business depends on several factors such as your product type, service interaction (online, in-person etc.) and the profile of your customers such as age. So it’s horses for courses. You may need some expert help to select the right approach for your business.


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