As the saying goes, “For every customer who bothers to complain, 20 other customers remain silent.” Unless the experience is really bad, customers usually don’t bother to share feedback about an experience that didn’t meet their expectations. Instead, they decide never to do business with the service provider again. That’s a high price to pay for lost feedback.
The lost customer is not the only casualty. Studies have shown that each dissatisfied customer typically shares the unsatisfactory experience with 8 to 10 (sometimes even 20) others. With the growing use of social media, it’s not uncommon for negative feedback to go viral and hurt the credibility of a brand.
Growing a successful business depends on repeat clients, and clients only come back when they are extremely happy with the products or services you’re providing. It should go without saying that your initial focus should be on providing an exemplary product or service. Once you have that solid foundation, it’s time to focus on the second part of generating repeat business — tailoring your offerings to exactly what your clients need and want.
Each one of your existing clients possess a wealth of information that can not only help you solve more of their problems, but also give you ideas about what else you can be doing to attract new business. The only way to get this information is to ask your clients direct questions and listen to their answers.
What Questions to Ask Your Clients
There are many types of questions you can ask a client to get his or her feedback on your products, services, customer service, and overall business, but some of the basic questions should include:
- Why did you choose us as your service provider?
- What service did we perform for you?
- How would you rate the service you received? (Provide a rating scale)
- In what areas did we meet or exceed your expectations?
- In which areas can we improve?
- Would you recommend us to others?
Whenever you ask for client feedback, you should make sure you are asking the right questions to produce valuable feedback without asking too many questions and risk not receiving a response at all.
You may also want to consider offering an incentive for completing the survey — such as a coupon or other discount — especially if you find the response rate leaves something to be desired.
How to Ask the Questions
Here are some ideas to get you started.
1. Start a Conversation:
Your client feedback process can be as simple as an email message with questions sent to your clients, or a personal phone call. This method is quick and easy, but there are some downfalls. When you take the informal approach to client feedback, you run the risk that the message will be put aside and eventually lost in the shuffle. Plus, if you’re asking in a conversational manner, you are most likely using open-end which can prevent any kind of consistency across all of your client surveys. Lastly, you must manually do something with the data collected in order to have it in any kind of usable form.
2. Create an Online Survey:
If you have a set of standard questions you’d like to pose to many of your clients, you can take the informal format one step further and create a standardized survey. You can create a protected form in a word processing application, a PDF form, or a form that can be submitted through your website (or even a third-party site). This format will obviously take more time to create, but it allows you to have one standard survey you send to all clients.
3. Use a Hard Copy Questionnaire:
Depending on the type of business you have, a hard copy questionnaire that is mailed to your clients may be the best way to go.
Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope to make it easier for clients to return the survey. And make sure you have a system in place for entering the data into Excel or some other software so you can collect, review and run reports on the data.
The key to any client feedback process is not just collecting the data, but gaining insight from it that you can actually use in your business.