How to Use Customer Feedback to Grow Your Local Business

Customer Feedback | 9 Min Read
by Joanne Wayne
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Feedback is information that you get from your customers in the form of reviews about your business: item quality, service, company policies, the professionalism of your team, etc. Usually, feedback comes in the form of reviews, comments or ratings, and it can be used as the basis for your future improvements.

"We all need people who will give us feedback. That's how we improve." – said one of the world's richest people, Bill Gates. And we totally agree with him.

Why Customer Feedback is Essential for SMBs

  • Customer feedback helps improve products and services.
  • Feedback helps you evaluate customer satisfaction.
  • Collecting feedback shows you value your customers' opinions.
  • Feedback helps to retain customers.
  • Feedback provides other people with information.
  • Customer feedback helps make business decisions.

Customer Feedback Helps Improve Products and Services

No matter how professional you are in the field you are working in, nothing will be more valuable than customer feedback.

Only your clients can share their experience of using your product, letting you know of its advantages or disadvantages. Only they can show you all of its/your strengths and weaknesses and put you on the right path.Listen to the feedback you receive from your customers and improve your products and services.

Feedback Helps You Evaluate Customer Satisfaction

Ask your consumers for feedback. Through feedback, you can understand if they are satisfied with the products or not. If they are, lucky you. If they aren't, make an effort to meet your clients' expectations.

Collecting Feedback Shows You Value Your Customers' Opinions

When you are a customer yourself, it feels nice when the business owner wants you to share your opinion with them, isn't it? Your customers feel absolutely the same: they want to be heard and want to feel important.

Feedback Helps to Retain Customers

You can build long-term relationships with happy and satisfied customers, but unhappy ones will probably find somewhere else to get their services. This is where feedback can help – ask your customers if they enjoyed everything, and if they didn't, do something that will change their minds.

How to Retain an Unhappy Customer

  1. Ask them about their experience.
  2. Take responsibility for their negative experience (if it was).
  3. Find a way to fix this mistake asap.
  4. Solve it.

Feedback Provides Other People with Information

Feedback is a source of information, not only for you, but for other people too. When your clients leave feedback in the form of reviews, other people look through them and get an understanding of what kind of company you are and if they should use your services or not.

Customer Feedback Helps Make Business Decisions

In the business world, your decisions must be based on your clients' feedback. Consider what your customers want, need and recommend. Knowing these details will help you to invest your money in the right spheres, from which you can get the maximum profit.
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Types of Feedback You Can Get

  • Positive
  • Negative
  • Neutral

Positive Feedback

Have your customers complimented your staff? Or have you received praise for your goods? Or maybe you have gotten a positive review on Yelp or Google Maps? These are all examples of positive feedback you can receive from customers.

Positive feedback from customers is often underestimated and taken for granted. This is a common mistake by the business owners. You need to respond to the positive feedback of your customers and increase the amount of it.

How to Respond to Positive Feedback

  • Be friendly.
  • Use your business "know-how".
  • Learn how your competitors respond.
  • Prepare templates.
  • Contact the reviewers by name.
  • Add mild upsells and self-PR.
  • Monitor your reviews.
  • Try the zero inbox method.
The business owner contacting the reviewer by name and being friendly
The business owner contacting the reviewer by name and being friendly
Above, we see a short response to Catherine's review. The business owner behaves in a more friendly rather than official way and contacts the reviewer by name, which makes the response more casual (which is not bad at all!).
The business owner replies to positive review of the customer
The business owner replies to a positive review from a customer
In this example, the business owner is a bit more formal, than in the previous one, though that doesn't make this reply a bad one. The business owner, also, contacts the reviewer by name and says some things that would be only suitable in this business field (mentions about exploring a new neighborhood).

Responding to positive reviews can seem quite easy, but remember to be polite and not to overact.
— Had my car fixed yesterday. Special thanks to Joey, who helped and explained everything to me!

— Glad that you liked everything, Ann. Hope to see you and your engine soon.
This is a bad example. It's okay to joke with customers but not after they have already left your repair service and end up coming back to you with the same problem they came to you with last time, this is not their dream.

Anyway, always remember to respond to customer reviews. The customer will be really glad to see that you paid attention to their review, even if you say just "thank you."
Customer’s positive review with no reply
A customer's positive review with no reply
Replying to this kind of review is not difficult, but the business owner probably decided that it wasn't necessary since it's not critical. Let's briefly reply to it together:
— Callie, thank you for leaving a review! Brent is a great member of our team, and we are happy that you enjoyed working with him. Your words of appreciation will be delivered to him ASAP.

How to Respond to Negative Feedback

  1. Apologize.
  2. Clarify things.
  3. Promise to figure the issue out.
  4. Actually, keep your promise.
  5. Resolve the issue with the client.
  6. Close the case.

This is just a general algorithm, you will need to adjust it to each case, depending on the type of negative feedback you receive. But remember to respond to all negative feedback from your customers.
The customer complaining about a mistake in the bill and getting a quick reply from the business owner
A customer complaining about a mistake in the bill and getting a quick reply from the business owner
As we understand from the reply, the business owner reacted quickly and managed to make everything right. Although Cheyenne A. had received a wrong bill, the problem was quickly fixed and a representative of the company called the customer to double-check if everything was all right.
The business owner admitting a mistake in work with the client
The business owner admitting to a mistake made while working with the client
The business owner got a 1-star review from his customer, who accused the business of being ignorant. The owner admitted that they made a mistake, tried to explain why this happened and mentioned that measures were taken so that this situation won't happen again in the future.

The next case: J. Kennedy used the services of Sharp Automotive and was unsatisfied with its quality. He sent a message to their official page and instead of getting any explanation, he just got a reply with a "sorry, we are not guilty" message.

That reply was definitely not enough for the angry customer, so he said that he would never come back to that place again. So, a customer was lost because of the reply.
The company losing a customer because of dismissive reply
A company losing a customer because of a dismissive reply
What would be a better reply, you might ask?

Well, in this situation – any. Just kidding! Let's try to think of a better option, using the formula: address the reviewer, show gratitude and be sympathetic, take responsibility and ask for one more chance.
— Dear Johnathon,

Thank you for leaving a review of our company. We are really sorry that you had a bad experience. We will check who was responsible for answering you in such a rude manner and will have a preventive conversation. If you give us a second chance, we would appreciate you coming to our place and letting us check your car for free.
Sound much better, right? If Sharp Automobile offered to help, support and give a little bonus, who knows, they might have not lost a customer. But they didn't do that, so it's a fail.

The last case: a negative review without any reply.

Responding to reviews is important, no matter if they are positive or not. Online reviews are a part of your reputation management strategy, so if you get any feedback, be sure to reply to it in the correct way.
A negative review without any reply
A negative review without any reply
In the review above we see that the customer claims that the staff are lazy towards clients. How ironic, that online the managers are too lazy to respond to their customers too. Let's imagine that we are the business owners of this company and we need to reply to this bad review.

We will start by showing gratitude, offering an apology, giving an explanation of why the situation had happened and finally, we will try to resolve the conflict:
— Vaness,

We are glad to receive your review. Thank you for taking the time to write it to us. On behalf of the company, I would like to apologize to you for the inconvenience that you faced. I know that it's hardly an excuse, but we've had big changes in our internal computer system, therefore the staff still might have had some difficulties with it, which may have affected their work.

Once again, we are incredibly sorry and would like you to contact us at +1 (844) 5648433 to find a solution that will be appropriate for both of us.

Neutral Feedback

Neutral feedback is "neither fish nor fowl." As the business owner, you don't get much useful information from this kind of feedback. In any case, try to find out more details, ask open-ended questions and get your customers to talk with you.
— How would you describe your experience with us?

— Great. Your prices are lower than in the salon on the next street. They offered me the same goods $40 more expensive.
Don't hesitate to ask for more details. You never know what you may find out – advantages or disadvantages of your product or information about your competitors, like in the example above.

Customer Feedback Software

At this point, we must understand the importance of feedback. But customer feedback management can be quite challenging. There are dozens of websites on the Internet that help you to collect reviews from customers. However, sometimes you don't have time to look through all of them, and this is where customer feedback software comes to save the day.

Without Review Management Software...

  • You have to pay for it, sometimes – a lot.
  • You may lose your data if you don't keep your database properly organized.
  • Getting reviews from different media can be really annoying.
  • Losing a corporate SIM-card can cause trouble.
  • Without a solid process, it's pointless.

Review Management Software Helps

  • You have to pay for it, sometimes – a lot.
  • You may lose your data if you don't keep your database properly organized.
  • Getting reviews from different media can be really annoying.
  • Losing a corporate SIM-card can cause trouble.
  • Without a solid process, it's pointless.
The prices of this kind of software can vary from $15 up to… wait for it… $499 for one location a month. Why is there such a big price difference? Well, the price varies on the number of functions you want to purchase. If you want to have the basic package you will pay less money but if you need more functions, you will have to pay.

Software Price Depends on

  • The number of locations.
  • The functions you want to include.
  • The number of users that can use the app.
  • The type of support you get (help center or advanced).
  • Other features depending on the app.
Originally published Sept 6, 2019 10:00:00 AM

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