Is the actual experience you deliver your customers in-line with the experience you’re actually trying to deliver? There’s only one sure way to know and that’s to talk to your customers and this means conducting research. You need real, factual, objective data from your customers on which to base your decisions. Your own assumptions aren’t enough as your biased and just too close to your business, let look at a few ways you can gather the information you need.
Scour Social Media
Search your name as a keyword on popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Look for positive and negative comments about your brand. These comments will tell you whether or not you’re living up to customer expectations or not.
Read Reviews and Ratings
Locate your listing on review and rating sites, you can search for your business name on Google and often find review websites. Read the reviews you find and see what feedback customers wrote about their experience with your company. For negative reviews, reply and ask for clarity or ways you can further help them. Always remember never react to a bad review, instead think of it as an opportunity to learn how you can improve your business.
Ask Customers Directly
Come right out and ask you customers, offer a comment card or hand out a survey. Offer an incentive such as a discount or freebie as enticement to complete and hand in. The best time to ask for feedback is after the customer has bought and used the product. Make seeking feedback part of your follow-up process.
Carry out Focus Groups
While it requires a bit more investment of time and resources, focus groups are a great way to learn about the experience directly from customers. Invite select customers to attend and lead a discussion about their experience dealing with your company.
Website analytics offer an indirect way of evaluating the customer experience. If a large number of visitors come to your site but disappear without signing up, buying, or otherwise engaging, this could mean that there’s a disconnect in the experience there. This is why bounce rates are monitored and why they are so important.
Monitor communications between employees and customers to see where there might be problems. This can also help you identify areas where employee training is lacking or where ongoing training is necessary.
Employee Focus Groups
It may also be useful to hold employee focus groups. In these groups, you can talk about your experiences with customers. Employees can talk about what they feel were successes or failures in the customer experience based on customer feedback or behavior.
Always look for opportunities to interact naturally with your customers. The more interactions you have with them, the more likely you are to glean insights on how they view the experience with your business.
This research should be ongoing and something that is naturally done. No customer experience is perfect and every business can use some fine-tuning. Through the objective data you obtain through research, you can identify areas of weakness and seek to make improvements.