A new product or service or niche idea may have helped a business owner kickstart a new business. In early stages of business journey, the owner would focus on getting their product or service right. It may involve research, one on one survey, tastings, etc. Everything goes well for a while until a competitor starts offering similar product and then you are back to the drawing board to start all over again.
With daily deals, online specials, email offers, coupons sites, customers have a lot of options to buy similar products or services. Specials or coupons may help acquire new customers but will they become long term customers when paying full price? It depends whether the customers like or loves your product and wants to have it frequently over a period of time.
One cannot be complacent in a business environment. How do you stay ahead of the competition all the time – what is the secret – it is customer feedback.
“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Bill Gates, Founder, Microsoft
Customer feedback can be collected by variety of mediums. Business owners who create Google business listing or list their services on booking or ordering platforms collect reviews at the end of each order automatically. Sometimes, it might be difficult to get customer feedback that easily as customers are usually in a hurry to complete their transaction.
Google reviews can be an important source of feedback. Happy customers do not often post their experience whereas unhappy customers will vent their frustrations as your product or service did not meet their expectations.
Small businesses often have direct contact with customers, you can learn a lot from informal interactions.
Observing customers can tell you even more about how they behave or the way they shop or place their order. You can learn about their lifestyles and buying patterns, about cultural trends, and factors that affects buying behaviour. Try showing customers a new product or idea and see how they react. For eg offer free tastings to observe reactions and ask questions
Businesses know what customers typically order and what their customers like when ordering their products or services. For example, in a takeaway setting, customers may ask for extra spice or make their order in a special way which makes them come back again and again. There may be a unique product or service or customisations that they prefer and maybe that’s why they do business with you.
Chatting with customers can help you improve or introduce new products in your store. Examples include asking how your product fits their daily routine, or checking if people use your product differently from how you intended. You can even interview them informally and observing what they say and do.
Businesses often offer a reward to encourage customers to take part in research. For example, a discount, free product or gift voucher to thank them for their time.
With the help of customer feedback, successful business owners are continuously trying to evolve their products & services to ensure they are ahead of their competition as they learn about people’s preferences, pain points and behaviour to serve them effectively.