When running a small business, one of the most important things to focus on is customer satisfaction. If your customers have a good experience it will enhance your business's reputation and build loyalty.
So, as a business owner, reviewing and improving the experience for your customers is one of the biggest keys to success. The best way to do this is to gather feedback and learn from what your customers say.
Here are five ways you can gather that crucial information:
Create a survey
One the simplest and most effective ways to get feedback from your customers is to use surveys. Through the use of direct, easy to answer questions you can get straight to the point and receive a good overview of what your customers liked and disliked about their experience.
Remember to also gather information about the demographics of your customers (such as their age, sex, whether they have children), as this will provide useful details about your customer base, as well as giving context to their survey answers. If your business gathers customer email addresses, you can build your survey online and distribute it using any of a number online survey platforms (such as SmartSurvey and SurveyMonkey).
Alternatively, if you do not have a database of customer contact details, you can create and print out paper surveys instead. Make sure your surveys are short and easy to fill in, as you are asking your customers for a favour. Use simple language and a combination of either true/false, multiple choice or short answer questions.
Some questions you could ask in your surveys:
- How many times do you visit our café/restaurant per week/month/year?
- How likely would you be to recommend us to a friend?
- How would you rate your food?
- How would you rate the service?
Talk to your staff
Your employees are on the frontline of your business and serve customers on a daily basis. Their experiences, therefore, provide great insight that you cannot ignore. They will know what's working and what isn't in your café or restaurant, so talk to them!
Find out what they've heard from customers and get their opinions on how your business could be improved. To gather this feedback you could call weekly staff meetings, or even have a suggestions box or an employee survey.
Make the most of social media
If you are already using Facebook and Twitter and have built a decent following, that's great - you have no doubt found the various customer feedback tools these sites provide! If not, keep reading - you may find out what you've been missing out on and why you should get involved.
Signing up to social media sites is only one step towards taking advantage of what these platforms can do for your business. Be proactive by engaging with your followers and posting regular updates — that's how you begin to unlock the real benefits these sites provide.
You can do this in a number of ways:
- Post regular updates about offers, events and new products
- Ask questions! Get feedback by simply asking what people think. Be specific and keep it short and sweet.
- Reply to comments and interact with your followers. Don't simply post updates — thank people for their feedback, and respond to any questions they may ask
- Post links to surveys and promote any of your other methods for gathering feedback.
Suggestions box or comments book
An easier, but perhaps less effective, way for gathering feedback is to put a suggestions box or comments book in your establishment so that customers can discretely submit their thoughts about their experience.
Make sure the box or book is in a convenient place where it is easy for customers to find, and let guests know you are grateful for any comments, complaints and questions they provide. Make sure you read all the feedback you receive - positive feedback is great as it reinforces what you are doing right, but negative feedback that constructively critiques your business is even more useful as it highlights where your business can improve.
People love freebies, offers and discounts. You can encourage customer feedback by offering meal deal codes, free drink tokens or discount vouchers. Boost your custom by picking quieter days of the week for when these offers are valid and you have a win-win situation.
So there you have it: five ways you can gather feedback and implement it to improve your products, service and the whole customer experience. Not all of the above methods will be suited to your business, but as long as you are proactive in seeking your customers' opinions, your business will reap the rewards.