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4 ways customer feedback can help you right now

If you're considering changing how your business operates, including launching new products or services or using different ways of selling, feedback from customers will be very useful. Your digital platforms can help you to gather this feedback. Here’s four types of questions you could answer.

Guide

6 min read

1. How do customers want to buy from you?

Before rushing into new ways of operating, it’s worth sounding out at least ten of your customers - via email, asking for feedback on social, or even just picking up the phone. Social media polls (such as Facebook story polls or Twitter polls) or poll apps (search for "online polling apps" to find options) are also ideal for gathering quick responses. This approach is best suited to simple decisions if there are only a few possible outcomes e.g.:

  • Online v phone orders: For example, if you are considering setting up eCommerce, it’s worth checking if all your customers are likely to buy in this way, or will some still prefer ordering over the phone?
  • Product idea 1 v product idea 2: Gain an initial idea of demand for new product or service ideas.
  • Collection v delivery: Find out if you need to offer home delivery or if most people are happy to collect from you.
  • Days and times: If you're launching a new class, you need to know the best times to schedule these to attract enough people so you can get established.

2. What new products or services do customers want?

Trying to evolve what you sell or how you sell can be a huge task. Look at data and customer feedback to determine what you should do first.

Prioritise: If you are looking to start selling online, or via a new platform (like social), you could initially, focus on your top selling 10% - 20% of items that are most practical for this format. Using your previous sales data, particularly for the same period last year (to allow for seasonal trends) is useful, as is your knowledge of your customers. Sounding out some customers on what or how they buy could be especially helpful.

Survey: Consider running a quick online survey using tools such as Survey Monkey or Google Forms to find out what your customers want from you. Link to your survey on your social platforms or in an email. Include some open ended questions, with room for comments, and these could help you spot any new hero products.

New ideas: Surveys may even identify a potential new product or service. You may find that customer feedback introduces new services, new features you could incorporate, or ideas for complimentary products.

3. What will be the level of customer demand?

When evolving your business to launch new products or services or new ways of selling, you may find increased demand. Normally businesses are delighted to be faced with huge demand, however ensuring you can meet demand also requires consideration.

Predicting demand: If you’re still in your planning phase then use tools such as a survey or Facebook story polls to sense check what your peak days or times might be. E.g. as a new takeaway, you may assume it will just be the weekend, but that might depend on your location.

Managing expectations: If you’re busy (or even overwhelmed), then don’t just assume people will know! Update your website and social platforms to let your customers know your situation, manage their expectations by estimating wait or response times, assuring them you are working hard and thanking them for their support and patience.

Customers may be flexible with timings or days of the week, allowing you to spread and manage demand - e.g. advance orders and longer lead times.

Boosting demand: Alternatively, if you’re needing to boost demand, then proactively flag on your social platforms or website any empty slots you want to fill, or stock you want to sell, rather than just waiting for orders to come in. A quick post on ‘last available slot available this Tuesday at 8pm’, or ‘new colour-ways now in stock’ might just prompt orders that might not otherwise come in.

And again, if things are flagging, consider going back again to your customers for ideas and feedback with a survey. In themselves, surveys raise awareness among your customers that you are still in business.

4. Do you need to adapt again?

Gathering feedback should never stop - especially when circumstances are changing so fast.

Review all data: A week or two after your new offering has been running, it’s time to review all data you can get your hands on. As well as your turnover and costs, look at how many views there are of videos, social media posts etc. Dig deeper and go through all comments (and follow up on them), email a few customers directly to ask for feedback or run a ‘how are we doing?’ poll.

Case study: A great example of this is a dance school which had moved at lightning speed to recreate all of their existing term-time classes online but cancelled their full-day holiday sessions. They had to decide what to do for the next term with only two weeks of data and feedback. Even with so little to work on, they found a wealth of insights:

  • Social media comments flagged that children from the same family who attend different classes at the same time, now struggle with limited laptops and space at home
  • Viewing stats showed shorter classes worked better
  • Some families facing job losses have less income whereas others now have more disposable income with no holidays or other activities

They switched from term-time to monthly subscriptions requiring less commitment from parents (and so the school can adapt fast when the situation improves). Live classes were shortened, reducing prices; and the lost income will likely be balanced by allowing others to spend more trying a wider range of classes. Times were rescheduled so children in the same house are not in different classes at the same time. And finally, they continued classes through the holidays.

Steps like this clearly show customers businesses are listening, build real loyalty and help businesses continue to trade.

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