“It costs too much.”
I’ve heard many small business owners say that about marketing. But the truth is if you can’t afford to market (on some consistent level) then you can’t afford to be in business. There’s another cost that we sometimes avoid. That’s feedback.
Feedback costs us upfront in time and energy. It takes effort to find out and record what people think. It also costs us on the back end, especially if the feedback is painful, because the truth stings sometimes.
But the effort is worth the information.
Selling people what you know they want is more profitable than you guessing at what you think they want and being upset and confused when they don’t buy. Customer feedback is your chance to listen to what your audience has to say–and then do something about what you hear.
I see it like this: Feedback saves you money, wasted effort and unnecessary actions. Think about it:
- You can quit selling what your people (that is, your target customers) don’t want.
- You can stop spending money on marketing avenues that don’t work for you.
- You can avoid another poorly attended event.
Use feedback to find out what your people really like, and once you know, you can deliver it, consistently.
Feedback is a friend, but sometimes she stings.
Have you ever asked somebody what they thought, just to discover that you hated their answer? I have. And how did you respond when it happened to you? (You don’t have to tell me.)
The truth may hurt sometimes, but you still need to hear it. And it needs to be an ongoing part of your company if you intend to grow with your clients and remain in business.
Here are three ways to get that feedback:
- Use social media and listen in on the conversation. Find out what people really think.
- Use effective questionnaires (as this AllBusiness.com article suggests) for anonymous responses. Just don’t lock in on the one negative response when you have 150 positive ones. Instead, look for the trends.
- Use interviews for a more in-depth interaction, because feedback is the other side of the conversation.
I second your emphasis on spotting trends, not focusing on extremes that could potentially be outliers. This is especially true if your feedback methods are voluntary since only the most involved (read: mad or ecstatic) will respond. Therefore, the truth often lies in the middle.
Negative feedback can be looked at in two different ways. You can ignore it, because you don’t think the customers know what they are talking about, and continue to waste your money. Or you can look at it as constructive criticism. If enough people are telling you a negative thing about your business, then perhaps you should seriously take a look at it and make some changes.
I wholehartedly agree with the importance of feedback. One of the best ways to receive it on a regular basis is through a mystery shopping program.