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5 Tips for Leveraging Customer Feedback

It’s been said that we have 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason: we should listen twice as much as we talk.

Here are 5 tips to make sure you’re listening to your customers (and not just talking at them).

Give your customers plenty of chances to offer feedback.

Your customers might have great ideas for improving your business, but those ideas are likely to stay in their heads unless you ask them to share.

Suggestion boxes, surveys, and social media are all great tools to connect with your customers. And there’s often no better way to get advice than simply asking your customers in person.

Ask specific questions.

Restaurant patrons have all had a waiter or manager come to the table asking, “How is everything?” That’s a vague question, and it usually yields a vague answer like “fine.” Even if the answer is “great,” extremely general feedback won’t do much to help a business improve.

Ask more specific questions about the service, the appetizer, or the drink specials, and you’re likely to get more actionable advice.

Be open to negative feedback.

You’re not going to get better if you just listen to people sing your praises. You have to address your weak spots. Read negative reviews. Talk to your upset patrons. You’ll find that your critics sometimes make good points.

Taking negative feedback seriously and respectfully shows your customers that you value their opinions.

Take it with a grain of salt.

Customers aren’t always right. Some products and ideas take a bit longer for customers to get used to. Henry Ford may never have actually said “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses,” but it’s a quote that still rings true in some cases.

Listening to your customers doesn’t mean doing everything they ask. You still need to balance your overall business needs against their requests.

Show that you are listening.

Don’t just solicit customer feedback out of obligation. Only ask for feedback if you are prepared to listen to and consider it. Otherwise, why would customers bother giving you good advice?

First, acknowledge your customers’ feedback and thank them for it, whether you’re looking them in the eye or tweeting back to them on Twitter. Second, follow up with customers and acknowledge their contributions, especially if you take their suggestions. If you can do this in a public way, so much the better; once other customers know you really listen, they might be more willing to offer their own good ideas.

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