Are your customers telling you the whole truth?
Don’t fear negative customer feedbackMarch 8th, 2016 by
Everyone’s heard the saying, “Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” When it comes to online reviews and customer feedback, many businesses are so afraid of getting a negative response, they shy away from directly asking a customer about their experience. Or, even worse, they don’t provide an avenue for their customers to give feedback at all, nor do they have a proper plan in place to handle any issues that may arise.
Here’s why it’s crucial for businesses in today’s market to ask their customers for feedback, publish that feedback online, and create a plan for handling any negative responses:
1) Potential customers use the Internet to do their research before making a purchase. When it comes to your potential customers, they want to know how other customers felt working with you. Was the job site kept clean and safe? Did you actually do what you said you would? Was their experience a positive one, overall? Residential construction projects (big or small) often take place inside someone’s personal and private space, which means potential customers really do their homework before making a decision. If they’re unable to find much information about your company, they’re likely not going to feel comfortable opening up their home to you.
2) Potential customers ignore companies who make no effort to respond to negative customer feedback posted online – especially if that kind of feedback is rare. If you have an abundant amount of positive customer reviews online and only a handful of negative ones, potential customers are likely to understand the fact that no business is perfect, and not immediately write you off. At the end of the day, if a customer posts a negative review about your business (whether or not it’s valid), it’s outside of your control. What you do with those negative comments is, however, within your control. If you respond defensively to the comment or ignore the comment altogether, what message does that send your potential customers? Hint: not a good one.
So, what’s the best way to approach customer feedback? Be proactive, not reactive! Here’s how:
Listen to all of your customers
If you don’t proactively seek feedback from every single customer, the old adage will ring true: you’ll only hear from the squeaky wheels. Sending out a customer satisfaction survey for every single one of your projects offers your customers an easy way to voice their concerns, compliments, or critiques. As a result, you’re able to gather valuable feedback, address any issues you were unaware of, and potentially intercept problems before they make it to public review sites and/or social media.
Be open to feedback and provide an easy way for customers to tell you how they feel. They’ll notice and be left with a long-lasting, positive impression of your business.
Even if a customer of yours is unhappy, giving them the opportunity to voice their concern sends a positive message; you care about what they have to say, and you want to resolve the issue. This results in longer-lasting relationships, more referral business, and in the long run, higher customer satisfaction.
Try it out: If you’d like to start gathering feedback from your customers, check out our free trial. We’ll survey up to 20 of your customers at no cost, giving you a great sense of how you’re performing in the eyes of your customers.
Innovate and improve
Once you have a system in place for listening to all of your customers, you’ll begin to uncover areas where your team is excelling, as well as opportunities for improvement. If you use GuildQuality to collect customer feedback, you have the ability to survey all of your jobs, tag projects with specific details about each job, and quickly and easily determine high-level trends. Why is this valuable? Tying job details to customer feedback can help uncover clear reasons why customers are unhappy. Perhaps a member of the team is failing to follow through, an aspect of your process needs to be tweaked, or a material or product you’re using is sub-par.
Using data rather than conjecture to analyze performance allows you to go to your team and say something like, “The data from our customer feedback tells us that we’ve set an unrealistic scheduling expectation that we miss every time, leading to lower scores in this area. Let’s tweak this part of the process and see how that impacts customer perception.” From there, you can make the change, continue to survey, and then measure the success of that change over time.
For example, Mid-Atlantic Waterproofing, a member of GuildQuality based in Maryland, shares:
“When we first joined GuildQuality in 2013, we found that there was a big disconnect between what we thought we were doing and what our customers thought we were doing in terms of communication, and knowing that has become a huge training tool for us. Even if it was just a procedure someone was changing, it could cause issues. Now we’re able to see what we’re good at and what needs improvements, both on an individual and a company level.”
Leverage customer reviews
To effectively collect customer feedback, you must set the proper expectations early. GuildQuality members let their clients know up front that they’ll be surveyed and that an independent surveying company will contact them. They make it clear that they value open and honest feedback. Those clients who feel comfortable reporting issues throughout the process will, but those who are less “squeaky” will appreciate the opportunity to provide feedback in a less confrontational manner.
We’ll say it again: Don’t fear the negative review! People expect to see a negative review every now and then – we’re all human, and sometimes humans make mistakes. A negative comment is a chance for you to shine. When you respond professionally to a complaint and work to resolve the issue respectfully and politely, people tend to think more highly of you.
At the end of the day, if you’re doing great work and putting your customers at the center of everything you do, the negative reviews you receive will be few and far between. And by being a company that embraces customer feedback, a negative comment can turn into fuel to help you become a better business.