How good are you at asking for feedback?

09.09.10 | Posted in General

One of the things we do well at Business Chicks is give our customers the opportunity to give feedback. After every event, we send out a survey, and we’ve made it a discipline to sit down and go through every single comment, line by line.

It’s a discipline that I used to loathe, but I’ve learned to love it. One thing I’ve realised in business (and particularly this one where we regularly run events with 1000 people) is that you can’t please everyone, all of the time (try as we may!)

In the surveys, there’ll generally be a lot of comments that are in direct contradiction with each other. Here are some comments I lifted directly from one of the last surveys we sent out:

“Food was OK but not to standard of that venue” followed directly by “The meal was outstanding – the best food I’ve had at an event.”

Then there was “Make the event shorter!” followed by “I wish your events ran for longer.”

And “Lose the panel format and go back to 1 on 1 with the emcee” and another: “Loved the panel – would love to see more of these.”

The challenge for businesses is to work through all the feedback and look for the common themes. Everyone will always have something different to say but if there is a trend happening, it’s time to sit up and listen carefully. One of the overwhelming things people said about our last lunch series was that they’d like to have dessert included. We’d got that one wrong, assuming that most of our community wouldn’t go for it. Needless to say, it’s something we’ll introduce next time round (and of course, we’ll probably still get complaints about adding it in.)

I flew back home from Los Angeles recently on V Australia, and about half way through the flight after a crew member had made up my bed and placed a heart shaped chocolate on my armrest, I thought to myself “I’d love to tell them how incredible this has all been.” I looked in my flight pocket and there was a big feedback form there which I happily spent five minutes completing.

What made it even better was that after we landed, two of the attendants came up to thank me personally for mentioning them on my form. It made me happy because I could see that they had read it, and that the form wasn’t just there for decoration. I got the sense they took their feedback process seriously, just as we do at Business Chicks.

Is your company great at collecting feedback and actioning your customer’s suggestions? Tell us how you do it below and we’ll send you the latest copy of the Business Chicks magazine Latte.

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6 Comments

  1. Emilia Joan Sowden

    Hi Business Chicks!

    As I’m a very small company (I only started my PR firm less than a year ago, and I’m still doing all my work pro-bono until I have a larger client base and more skills), the way I ask for feedback is generally face-to-face with my client. I like to take them out, one-on-one, for a coffee or even a martini if I’m feeling naughty, and I ask them honestly what they thought of my services.

    Because they’re not paying for my services, they’re usually really receptive to the chat, and offer some great tidbits. My clients generally have more experience in the actual PR world than I do! So their contribution is always well welcomed, and I let them know this.

    Most of my clients are happy to see that their business and my business are doing well.

    I look forward to reading Latte!!!

    Thank you,

    Emilia x

  2. Melanie Miller - Small Fish Business Coaching

    Hello Business Chicks,

    I have just written a blog post on this subject as I was finding a lot of business owners hesitant to ask for feedback for fear of negativity.

    My biggest point is that asking for and receiving feedback gives you the chance to address issues. Without a way to provide feedback your customer may not bother to tell you that they are unhappy but may be happy to tell everyone they know! What a shame if you have not had the chance to acknowledge and respond.

    On the flip-side positive feedback is a great motivational tool for your team and re-inforces the fact that you are getting in right!

  3. Emma

    Hi Business Chicks,
    In the first year of starting my business (just 1 year this month) I have uncovered so many things in speaking with my clients. As a website designer, I am in quite a competitive market but i find that by making the time to communicate with my clients not only have our found some wonderful ladies that I consider to be friends but I also have the greatest marketing network available!

  4. Suzanne - Suz E Bee Candles

    I too am new to business – my 1st anniversary is next month. My products (handmade, pure Australian beeswax candles) are sold online and mainly at markets in the Hunter Valley region.

    When a customer purchases one of my products I always ask them to let me know how they find the product. However, I’m finding that the response rate is quite slim. Most of the candles are purchased as gifts with the giver returning to purchase another of my products for themselves.

    I am considering composing an online survey so customers can fill it out anonymously. Hopefully I will receive a range of comments using this method.

    Cheers,
    Suzanne

  5. Paula Kelso

    We give our clients a feedback/survey card with a self addressed envelope attached, this way when they leave the salon they can fill it out in there own time and it is confidencial.
    It works really well, because clients are more honest. When they are posted back the team awaits with baited breathe whilst read out at our weekly meeting.

  6. Taryn Peck - Ellis Benson

    As an online retailer of personalised stationery (www.ellisbenson.com.au), one of our greatest challenges is getting feedback, as the online world is easy to come and go as you please!

    So we actively seek open feedback from our customers following purchase. Approximately one week after they receive their product, we send them a personal email making sure that they received their parcel safely and asking if they have any feedback they would like to share – good, bad or otherwise!

    We have found this to be a good way to strengthen our relationships with our customers, and gather greater insight into how we can grow and improve. And the best part is that for us as a small business – it doesn’t cost anything.

    And while we are at it – why not jump on our site and contact us with your feedback! Every piece of feedback helps when you are starting out. The trick, as Emma has pointed out, is to find the common theme, and act accordingly.