The Benefit of Buyer Feedback
inMarch 6, 2008 - 4:20pm
Do you sometimes wonder how your buyers perceive you? Do you really want to know? By asking a buyer for feedback on how you’re doing, you may find areas where change is needed, and after implementing a change, you may also discover your business is more successful as a result. But it does require something from you:
You must be able to accept honest feedback in a calm, objective and appreciative manner. Even if the suggestions or comments are not what you expected or wanted to hear, and in some cases, even justified, you must weigh each carefully. And be honest with yourself – are they accurate? Asking for feedback allows you to take a proactive approach when dealing with customer issues, giving you the opportunity to review your business processes from a customer’s perspective, and take action before it becomes a full blow customer relationship problem.
Maybe a recent buyer tells you that your email correspondence was abrupt, or even rude. It’s true that the inability to see another's facial expression or hear their voice inflections can make a joking attitude or turn of phrase in an email message seem callous, not conferring the happy go lucky personality you might have, at all. And, you would never know this unless you had asked. Asking for feedback can often allow you an opportunity to salvage an inadvertently damaged relationship with a customer, and keep you from making the same mistake again. In this respect, even a thin-skinned or crabby buyer can be worth their weight in gold as they assist you in honing your on-line persona and improving your customer relationship skills.
How do you solicit buyer feedback? You can send an email follow-up after each transaction, and directly ask your buyers to tell you how you did, and where they feel you could improve. Your email should be a friendly request for their assistance and not appear to pressure them for an immediate reply. Many customers are just too busy to respond to your query, and some are uncomfortable about doing so. Accept this and do not take it personally; and know that the feedback you do receive is thoughtful and more likely to be useful.
Another option is to print out a simple form letter that thanks the buyer for their business and requests feedback, via either email or snail mail, which can be included in the shipment. Ask the customer if there is any aspect of the transaction that could be improved. Or use a check-off form, which some buyers might find easier to complete, but its usefulness may be limited because it may not provide the specific details needed to adequately describe the cause of the customer’s dissatisfaction. Without specifics you not be able to evaluate your processes correctly, and make effective change. Adding a comments field to your check-off form might remedy this problem, if the customer is willing to take the time to write out their thoughts. Whichever method you choose you might also consider including a stamped, self addressed envelope for the customer to use, should they decide to complete the form and snail mail it back to you. This may cost a little but the information returned is worth more than the price of a stamp.
We encourage you to find a way that's comfortable for you to ask your buyer's how you did and/or how you can improve. It may seem a scary prospect at first - but it's an action well worth taking, with the potential to enhance your business and advance your success.