Know your customer base well and you're halfway to having everything you need to retain them as loyal customers in the long-term. The competitive world of online marketing makes keeping your customers every bit as important as grabbing new ones. In this struggle, customer feedback is one of your strongest allies, with marketing resources such as online surveys, feedback forms and Google analytics available to help you with your data harvesting and analysis. It's up to you to understand the data you receive and to be firm about your objectives in gathering it, to make best use of it. Here are a few questions you need to ask yourself in order to do this:
How am I doing? The most obvious conclusion that can be gleaned from customer feedback is, of course, your brand's popularity among its customer base. This is one of the major strengths of online surveys – they can give virtually instantaneous feedback on how customers see your products or levels of customer service. Frequent snapshots in the form of such surveys are a great way to stay on top of this, although less obvious questions also need to be asked...
How have any changes affected my relationship with our customers? When making changes to your business – whether it is tweaking aspects of the services you offer, a revamp or even a complete relaunch – follow up immediately with a fresh survey. These are vital to discover whether your changes have impacted the business positively or negatively and to allow you to react accordingly as soon as possible.
Do I need to set new objectives? Although some aspects of your customer service never change, such as the requirements of a strong identity in the marketplace or the indispensability of trust in your products or services, but the choice of tactical manoeuvres when jockeying with the competition can be made much clearer with a cleverly-worded survey. Customer feedback not only gives you a pointer when it comes to progressing towards your objectives, it sometimes also reveals the need for new ones.
Where do I stand in relation to the competition? When working out how to position oneself against the competitors in your field, customer feedback is there to point the way. Look for those elements of your business that find most favour with customers and focus the heaviest on those. Similarly, if customers regularly raise negative issues about aspects of your brand, look to those first when finding ways to improve how you do business.
What can customers tell me about the competition? In your feedback exercises, ask customers if they have used your nearest competitors' services, and if so what they thought about them. Phrase questions so customers need to give direct comparisons and you'll derive all the benefits of having many eyes and ears in the enemy camp!