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How to generate customer feedback

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/7/2006 | Business and Finance

It is not enough to set up a business and let it run on its own. Constant vigilance is required to make sure that the business is running on the right course. One good way to judge progress is customer feedback

For this you need to keep the communication lines open with your customers. Let them tell you how they rate your product or service, and what they feel about it. Communication helps in establishing a meaningful and lasting relationship, creating customer loyalty, and reducing unnecessary tension and frustration.

It is unlikely that the customer will try to reach you, unless he is very unhappy and wants a refund. It is for you to set up a feedback system. A simple method is to provide a feedback button on you website, and urge the customer into answering your questions.

Some of the questions that you can ask are: Tell us what is wrong with our service? Have we stood up to your expectations? How can we serve you better? What are the new things you would like us to add?

However, to get useful feedback it is important that your forms are easy to use. The questions must be direct and comprehensible and your customers should be able to answer them quickly.

Instead of asking them to write long answers you can ask them to rate your service by using check boxes. You can also provide a live customer service to give a personal touch. However, you should never try to elicit personal information like age, salary, profession etc to build your database.

A more elaborate feedback collection idea is to invite your customers to write reviews, add a question box to your site, create an incentive-based survey in which your customers can give ratings and rankings about the product or their experience, and, in turn, can win a gift. You can get more responses if the gift is assured.

Follow-up is equally important. You must promptly respond to the customers submission, complaints or suggestions. Auto-responses are inadequate and impersonal, so follow them up by a personalized email, which should be polite and covers all the points raised by the customer.

 This will reassure the customers that the company cares for him, and he can trust the company. You can add to this trust by sending a replacement. This way you will build a loyal customer base.

Remember that the first few years are the most difficult. These are the years when you are trying to build a brand name and image. The best way to do so is through constant interaction with your customers.