Everyone seems to be interested in big data analytics, but in many cases, it’s better and simpler to just get feedback for your business straight from the customer. Aligning numbers with real customer input gives you a much better idea of where opportunities or problems exist. Here are the best five ways to gather feedback that help you keep up with customer expectations. Surveys There are a lot of tools and apps that make it easy to create your own feedback forms. You can customize them to address any issue you want and send them out to customers, social media followers, and the list can continue. First of all, you have to keep it short – ask the questions that matter. If you don’t need the information, you’re wasting both your time and the customer’s time. When you start conducting surveys on a topic, ask a few relevant questions to get open-ended answers, such as “What did you like best about your buying experience?” rather than “How would you rate your buying experience?”. This will help you compile a standard set of responses you can use to drill down further for more details. Also read: Key Reasons You Need Social Media for Your Business 6 Easy Ways How Digital Marketing Services Can Help Grow Your Business in 2017 5 Steps to Effective Consultative Selling Long surveys take real effort, and you can’t expect customers to take 20 minutes out of their busy day to answer your questions. Even short surveys should offer some incentive. Consider the national grocery chain of Kroger supermarkets. The Kroger feedback survey offers respondents the chance to be entered into sweepstakes for winning a variety of prizes. It also provides valuable information in regards to the process of offering feedback. Feedback Forms If concerns are not promptly addressed, 45 percent of US consumers will abandon a transaction. But throughout the purchase process, you can be sure they’ll have questions, doubts, and observations. A simpler and more obvious way to gather information online is by presenting feedback forms. Again, don’t make it long so that customers avoid it, or it takes up enough visual real estate to be annoying. One or two questions, text boxes, and a submit button should be enough. Some websites show their concern for customers by putting a very brief feedback form at the bottom of every page, where it won’t be in the way but customers can always find it easily if they do encounter a glitch or unacceptable delay. It’s also a good idea to add functionality that captures the account information for the user, the browser or device used, and anything else that you think is important to providing personalized feedback for your business. Reach Out When Addressing Issues Sometimes, a problem may involve more details than the customer is able or willing to provide. Simply capturing numbers or text suggestions won’t convey context or intentions. If that’s the case, you may need to know exactly what was happening to understand the problem. You need to communicate directly with the customer. This level of individualized service is valuable in building brand confidence. Perhaps you’re receiving feedback from people that simply don’t like your checkout page. This could have different causes: 1. It’s too long or too difficult to follow. 2. It’s visually unappealing. 3. It’s slow, prone to errors, or inconsistent. You need to find out just what the most common objections are before you start making changes. How do you do that? You might send a friendly email or text asking them to call or chat at a certain time to explore the issue. Both you and the customer will benefit from this action – the customer will definitely appreciate your gesture and your company will earn gratitude because it shows interest in customer’s needs and thoughts. User Actions and Google Analytics Google Analytics can give you a lot of useful data about which pages users spend most of their time on, what features they prefer to use, what products are best being sold, and what aspects of your business people tend to ignore. But business analytics don’t tell you much about why these things are happening. Saying this though, with the use of project analysis software that works in relation to business analytics, you’re able to take this data and help make decisions based on these results, rather than gut feeling. So at least you’ll have something that’ll back up your choices. What are individuals thinking when they interact with your processes? What did they stay so little on a certain page? Why do they prefer to read articles about a certain topic and the other topics don’t interest them at all? To find out the answer to this questions, you need customer analytics. When looking at individual actions, it becomes easier to establish why certain decisions are made. Suppose you’re offering a 30-day free trial of a software demo. The user has to register to receive it, and anytime during that 30 days can make the purchase. You can see that a particular user registered, downloaded the demo, came back to the site several times for more info, but after 30 days never purchased the full version. Feedback will help you find out exactly where and why the sale was lost. You can come up with a list of those who declined to purchase the product at the end of the free trial. You can reach out to them with a specifically constructed survey (or invitation to visit one). Here you have the opportunity to ask specific questions and get specific answers about a product or service. Usability Testing The ideal way to gather information would be the capability to observe what a customer does as they browse your shop or website. There are ways to do this and even services you can hire to do it for you. You identify an issue that needs investigation, define a task that tests real-life scenarios, and have a person do it as they are being recorded, or submit a complete report afterward. This used to be an expensive and risky operation, but technology such as cameras and location software can make it easier – and cheaper. Whether you’re reorganizing your brick and mortar store to test traffic patterns, or launching a new marketing campaign, a research firm can review the process, analyze results and rendervaluable feedback. One classic example of this is offering a random group of people a free lunch or gift card to try a product, and observing them as they take upon your offer. Then you ask the questions. Did they like your product? What do they think about the packaging? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the product? What would they change if they had the opportunity? This kind of action will give you some immediate, honest reactions to determine how impartial users are likely to respond. Continuous Feedback There is a large number of methods you can use to gather feedback for your business. The most important takeaway is not to waste the opportunity on vague questions. Ask specific questions about what interests you most. Customer habits can change, but a constant process of getting feedback will help you improve your product or services and make your customers feel appreciated and connected.