5 Ways to Determine How Your Customers Really Feel

Use a variety of methods to gather customer feedback that can help you identify business issues to solve.
Photo Credit: ATA

Author: Cassie Gasaway

To know how people feel about your services, employees, prices, events, product selection, store layout and store environment, seek customer feedback. Understanding what customers like, dislike and find aggravating or annoying is the first step to identifying fixable issues that improve customer satisfaction.

Connecting with customers in multiple ways lets you spot patterns regarding their needs, dilemmas and pain points. Use one or all of these strategies to gather feedback necessary to improve your business.

1. Compile a Customer Advisory Team

When you want the cold hard truth, you ask someone you trust for their honest opinion. Depending on the size of your business, identify and ask five to 10 loyal customers to be part of an advisory team. Hold quarterly meetings to ask questions that elicit thoughtful responses. This is the quickest, most reliable way to collect in-depth feedback. Include people of different ages and genders who vary in archery skill and equipment preferences to get a wide range of feedback. The open format may lead to lengthy discussions that help you get to the root of customer issues or annoyances. Use incentives to thank them for their time.

Ask the customers directly what they think of the shop. Photo Credit: ATA

2. Ask Customers Individually

It’s impossible to know what someone thinks unless you ask. Sure, reading someone’s body language clues you in to how they feel, but asking them outright can confirm your suspicions. Some people feel it’s rude to offer advice or suggestions unless they’re asked; you must let them know you want their feedback and give them an opportunity to share. After thanking a customer for visiting your shop, ask, “Is there anything we can do to better serve you in the future?” By initiating the conversation, you’re giving your customer permission to open up. Plus, asking the straightforward question in person helps you understand their experience and prompts follow-up questions that may yield detailed responses on a specific topic.

3. Use Anonymous Surveys

When it comes to gathering constructive criticism, anonymity can also work to your advantage. Some people feel more comfortable speaking their mind when their identify remains hidden because they can’t be held responsible for a potentially hurtful comment. Give your shy or easily embarrassed customers a chance to provide feedback through an anonymous survey. Popular feedback platforms include SurveyMonkey, Google Forms, Alchemer and Jotform. Multi-question surveys can deter busy people, so it’s best to keep surveys short and direct with multiple-choice questions. You can also put out a short paper survey that customers can complete and drop in a suggestions box.

Create simple one-question surveys. Photo Credit: ATA

4. Use a One-Second Smiley Survey (or a Bell)

To get a wholistic outlook on customer satisfaction, allow customers to complete a one-question smiley-face survey on their way out the door. Customers select from a range of emojis to share how they felt about their visit with the simple push of a button. These visual, intuitive surveys quickly capture a high volume of feedback and produce easy-to-understand results. Many companies offer smiley-face survey apps or systems that range in price and commitment lengths. Using this approach for a minimum of one month a year is a good way to engage your customers. Encourage checkout clerks to remind customers to make their selection on their way out. Want something easier? Have customer ring a countertop bell if they’re happy with their visit. You’ll instantly know if someone had a good experience and the sound will notify other customers, too. The more often you hear the bell, the better.

5. Monitor Online Comments

Reading online comments and reviews is a great way to monitor customer feedback in a noninvasive way. Scroll through your social sites and review platforms like Yelp or TripAdvisor. Respond to positive and negative comments to strengthen your brand, control the message, and educate customers about upcoming sales, events or contests.

Whether you physically connect with customers, use tools to help extract honest responses or observe feedback online, it’s important to analyze the feedback you receive and take action to solve problems. Responding to positive and negative feedback strengthens your brand and allows you to control the message. It shows customers you respect their opinions and want to improve, which helps with customer retention and makes your business better for everyone who walks through your door.

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