Marketing Center

Customer feedback: How to ask for it effectively

If you have the ability to modify your product or service, gathering customer feedback can provide you with important insights.

Published: April 12, 2016
Updated: January 27, 2017

To be successful in business, you must be strongly focused on providing a positive and unique customer experience. The only way to know if you are reaching your customer's expectations is to ask. Asking enables you to:

  • Refine your products or services

  • Improve the experience you provide for customers and prospects

  • Grow trust with your customers

Many small businesses shy away from asking their customers for feedback because they simply don't know how. Here are some tips and ideas that can help.

Let customers know their feedback matters

The most important part of asking for customer feedback is letting your customers know your purpose and goals in doing so. If customers know that you are asking for feedback not only for your benefit, but also for theirs, they are more likely to give it. For example, if you are looking to improve an existing product, reach out to customers who have purchased and say, "We are looking to improve this product, and we'd love for you to share your thoughts with us."

By being sincere, listening closely to what your customers say, and accepting both positive and negative feedback, customers will openly share their thoughts, which will provide invaluable insight into your business. Asking questions about their purchasing experience and how they feel about your product or service shows you care and it's a great way to possibly turn an unhappy customer into a lifelong, loyal customer.

Ask for customer feedback in the correct way

If you make providing feedback too complicated or time-consuming, you'll never hear from your customers. Focus on asking brief questions that are simple to answer. Also, choose a medium that is easy for your customers:

  • Face-to-face

  • Online survey

  • Text message

  • Direct mail or customer feedback form at your business

If your business has an automated sales process, automate the feedback and ask for it soon after a customer interacts with you. Consider a prompt for a brief online survey after checkout, or send one to the email address they provided when purchasing.  

Provide incentives for feedback

Customers like getting something in return for their time, so consider offering incentives. From money off their next purchase to entry into a prize giveaway, offering something of value will help increase participation. Acting on customer feedback may lead to an increase in revenues, which could then offset the cost of those incentives.

Analyze and follow up on feedback

If customers take the time to provide you with feedback (both positive and negative), it is important that you take the time to listen or see what they are saying and respond. If there is an overwhelming amount of input regarding one particular area of your business, focus on making changes that fit your customers' needs. Once those changes are in place, reach out to the customers who offered feedback and let them know the actions you are taking in response to their comments. If you do not act on a customer's feedback, and they ask why, give them an honest answer. Maybe you don't have the resources to make the change at the moment or have to prioritize other things.

Finally, focus on the most positive and negative feedback, and train employees to do the same. If someone is either really happy or really upset with an aspect of your business, reach out to understand why and ask for suggestions on how to improve. And never stop asking for feedback: Just because you upgrade one thing doesn't mean you're finished.

By following these few simple tips and asking for feedback, you will find that the information and outside perspective will help you to continually improve and grow. Moreover, in the process, you'll also build a following of loyal customers.