Why customer feedback matters for SMEs

Topic: Retail, SME

Net Promoter Scores, customer satisfaction surveys, star ratings, product reviews: while few people would argue customer insight is a bad thing, for an SME it can be hard to prioritise over the day to day running of the business.
If you’re reading this then there’s a good chance you don’t actually need convincing that customer feedback could help your business, but let’s put that beyond doubt.

The majority (66%) of adults feel that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with a good online customer experience (Forrester)
When it comes to making a purchase, 64% of people find customer experience more important than price (Gartner)
After having a positive experience with a company, 77% of customers would recommend it to a friend (Temkin Group)
Feeling unappreciated is the #1 reason customers switch away from products and services (New Voice Media)

Asking for customer feedback, then, kills two birds with one stone: it both makes them feel like their opinion matters, and gives you the opportunity to fix a poor customer experience before it makes its way on to social media.
As an additional and probably unconsidered benefit of asking customers about their recent purchase or experience, the book ‘Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness’ by Sunstein and Thaler illustrates that simply answering such questions as “are you likely to purchase again in the next six months?” makes it more likely that the respondent will actually purchase again.
So, it’s a good idea – but how to get started, and just as importantly, how to act on the information provided?

sms surveys exampleGetting started with customer surveys

Your first choice is how to send your survey. There are a plethora of email survey platforms available, and they’re inexpensive; you could certainly do worse than starting here.
Email surveys suffer from the same problem as email marketing, though; the channel has been used and abused, with low open and response rates. You can mitigate this to some degree by making sure that the survey is sent at the time time post-purchase; for example, if they have purchased white goods, perhaps request the survey one week post-purchase; for a car service, you might ask within a couple of hours.
It’s also worth exploring SMS Surveys; the fact that 90% of text messages are read within 3 minutes (source) makes them particularly well suited to collecting feedback while the experience is fresh in the customer’s mind.
Regardless of platform choice, the easiest way to get a survey programme going is to automate it using an API between your order processing software and your chosen survey solution.
However, for SMEs without developer resources, this isn’t always viable; a perfectly acceptable alternative is to upload a spreadsheet with customer purchases on a daily, weekly or monthly basis (as appropriate).

What should you be asking?

At a basic level there are two types of customer feedback: quantitative, where you’re asking for a rating out of 10, or a selection on a fixed scale between ‘poor’ and ‘great’, and qualitative, where you’re presented with free text responses.
Both are very useful; the former lets you get a feel for the general feeling of your customer database, as the aggregated data levels out extreme views. The latter gives you specific and individual insights into areas you could improve.
A perfect example of a quantitative survey question is the Net Promoter Score metric, which asks your customers how likely they would be to recommend your services to a friend. It’s useful because there are benchmarks online which allow you to compare your NPS score to other similar size and types of business.
The best advice we can offer is to get started; you don’t need to have endless resources to execute a simple survey, and the Esendex team are on hand to help if needed.

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