All businesses exist to make customers happy. Not all succeed in doing so, though.

Why do some succeed and how do they manage to stay on top? What do you do to improve lovability toward your brand? What can you do to deserve the special kind of love that gets shared by word of mouth and multiplied by friendly recommendations? How do you build products that get all the love from your customers? And even a step further, how do you make them experience what they dream about?

Don’t ask us or your colleagues, don’t guess or suppose either — go ahead and ask your customers. They will tell you what their true needs and expectations are, but only if you know how to ask, listen, and act. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting time, both theirs and yours.

A customer talking about their experience with you is worth ten times that which you write or say about yourself.
- David J. Greer, Wind In Your Sails

Still, a great many businesses don’t use the opportunity to regularly consult with their customers, get them to share their stories, perhaps even express how likely they are to recommend the business in a simple NPS survey. We all know that sharing is caring, so shall we start then?

Luckily for all of you out there trying to get into the habit of talking to your customers — it’s never been easier to engage in a relaxed and friendly conversation. When relaxed, we are more likely to open up and pour our hearts out. With today’s CRM tools and online survey builders like our own EmailMeForm, all you need to think about is what to ask and where, we will tackle the how.

So, how do you go about asking for someone’s personal opinion?

Use simple surveys to get feedback from your customers
Use simple surveys to get feedback from your customers.

Think about the tone and the narrative. Always explain to your survey takers why you need their candid feedback and emphasize that by helping you, they are actually helping themselves in the long run. Their feedback will be built into everything you do or create for them. Tell them what your goals are and how you plan to incorporate their opinion into your company’s vision.

When creating your customer feedback surveys, make sure you leave some questions open-ended with text boxes where your respondents can write their answers in. This kind of feedback strikes the nail’s head. What your customers think of you, their exact words served for you to absorb. You’d be surprised with how much useful feedback can be extracted and leveraged on. Before making important business decisions, be sure to know the preferences and expectations among customership.

Surveys feed businesses with necessary data. Businesses analyze the data and follow the trends they discover.

Even support tickets can provide excellent insights into the most common issues that your customers are experiencing. Analyzing these can help you figure out where the pain points are. There’s no better way to make your customers happy than by responding to their wishes and improvement suggestions. If they constantly ask for a certain feature to be built or a product to be added to your offer, you should go along and try to build or add it for them.

Customers love businesses that know them and address their needs. By improving their experience, they will surely stay with you longer and be more likely to recommend your service. This is how you build a long-lasting trust and extend your customer lifetime value.

Where and when is the best place and time to ask?

When asking someone for a favor, you always try to be as unobtrusive as possible. This applies to personal life and business alike. If you have an ecommerce website, the last thing you want is to ask your customers how they feel about your offer in the middle of their purchase. The most logical timing would be after they’ve been served.

After-sale customer feedback
Ask them to rate your service right after they make a purchase.

If you’re delivering a product, send a follow-up email with your feedback survey after they have received and tried it. If you’re selling travel deals, ask your clients about their vacation when they come back. If you have a Facebook page, you can place your survey in one of the tabs on your page.

Learn about the best techniques for implementing your forms and surveys on websites, blogs and social media in our previous post.

The same applies to helpdesks, restaurants, car repairs, or any other service business. Ask customers to rate your personnel by giving them an easy access to communication channels like email, website feedback, Facebook, Twitter, etc., but remember — only surveys can give you answers to the specific questions you have and it’s much easier to analyze the feedback you get via reports and other data tools.

How do you build on constructive criticism and expand on praise?

Aim for objectivity, not positivity.

Constructive criticism is gold. Navigate your survey takers through the maze of carefully chosen follow-up questions that can be set up with logic form rules. If you do this right, the questions will flow naturally without creating pressure on survey takers.

Surveys with logic rules
Build smart surveys to get the most objective feedback.

It sure uplifts morals when the response is positive and it feels good to know what our customers think that we’re so good at. This knowledge helps us build better brands, products, and relationships. Customer satisfaction surveys are our tool for getting there. However, when creating your customer satisfaction surveys bear in mind that your aim is to get honest response, not necessarily a positive one. So try to be as unbiased as possible when creating the questions, especially when you also provide a choice of possible answers.

Once you do get that customer feedback, next step is to sit together with your team, discuss the negatives and create an actionable work plan on how to fix the uncovered issues. As for the positive responses, you can celebrate them together and congratulate each other for the great work.

Don’t forget to set up autoresponder emails to thank your customers for the time they invested in answering your surveys. For those that wish to go a mile further, the great way for deepening the talks is to set up phone calls and follow-up emails to get even more information out of those who wish to participate and share a deeper insight into their use of your service. Your customers will love the proactiveness and care you showed by calling them back to inquire about the pain they’ve gone through with your product or service.

Time to team up and actualize the learnings

Now that you have the data you need to understand the sentiment toward your service and brand, it’s time for your team to get together and discuss the feedback you got. Make everyone in your team aware of the pitfalls and successes and create a clear action plan for improvements.

Survey Data Reports
Use data reports to analyze the response you get via client satisfaction surveys.

And remember to keep talking to your customers — before taking an important business decision ask how they feel about it, review their support tickets on a daily basis, expand the talks when they need help or have issues, get their feedback on interface/website redesigns or new product offerings, check how successful your staff is in servicing them, and make them feel good for helping you build a better business for them.

As Steve Jobs said: Get closer than ever to your customers. So close, in fact, that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.

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