Client feedback is more crucial than ever in the age of social media and technology.
The Internet has created systems that enable entrepreneurs to ask for feedback and clients can share positive or negative experiences with a product or service with their network.
Websites such as Yelp and Google Ratings have shaped the way businesses engage with clients to add value to their experience. This applies to the wellness industry, where testimonials and Facebook Recommendations have the power to influence others to enquire and try out your offers.
Feedback can feel personal, and that is normal.
Client feedback provides valuable insights that you may not necessarily be aware of because your attachment to your project can result in a natural bias. It’s normal to get wrapped up in your silo of ideas. You can spend months, maybe years, putting together a product or an idea, and one negative feedback may push you off balance.
Negative feedback can often feel personal, and that is okay. The challenge is in moving past those feelings to find a solution. The quicker you can accept that your product has room for improvement, the sooner you’ll discover a fresh approach to solve a puzzle.
Transform feedback into strengths. All successful businesses grew into titans because they listened to client feedback and took action.
The Value of Honest Reviews
According to irevu founder Jeremy Lessaris, clients tend to lean more towards negative reviews than positive. Often, people are suspicious of a massive influx of positive comments. Most of them will think that they are either paid surveys or “bots” attached to websites.
To ease this kind of issue and to show credibility, companies try to highlight feedback that offers a balance to both positive and negative responses. This suggests that hiding negative feedback is not the best strategy.
The best practice is to respond objectively to negative reviews. Ask if there is anything you can do to amend a client’s experience. Express that you are taking action to improve on your service. If negative feedback is unfounded and false, objectively and respectfully counter their claims so that potential clients know your side of the incident. Reply within 24 to 48 hours to contain further damage.
Be authentic, polite, and keep future clients in mind. Contacting the client offline after posting a response to their feedback is also a proactive strategy to gain them back.
Incentives or no?
A common hurdle in receiving feedback is not getting any communication at all. This means that despite efforts for comments and suggestions boxes, private message opportunities, and phone call surveys, nothing ever comes up. So how can you encourage clients to take the time to write feedback?
The easiest method is to offer incentives. Offer a small reward (e.g. gift cards to a cafe) or a chance to win something bigger if your budget permits.
However, Ian Williams, Director at Jericho Consulting in the UK, believes there is an issue with this method. He believes it could lead to plenty of flattering and biased comments instead of factual ones.
“If you are, to all intents and purposes, ‘paying’ someone to give you feedback, they will be inclined to make it positive. Why would you provide negative feedback to someone who is giving you a present for your opinion?” Williams said.
Giving an incentive is a short-term strategy which can still add value to your reputation, especially if you’re a start-up. If your service is excellent, the reviews will organically happen. Clients sometimes need a gentle nudge.
You can also try making your feedback forms short but informative. Tick boxes that take less than 30 seconds to answer are given more attention than long Q&As. Match your strategy with your objective to get the most of their responses.
What happens after getting feedback?
Pooling is a crucial step that some entrepreneurs take for granted. You might have a user-friendly feedback system, but with all the information gathered, where do you start?
Start with big concerns. Is it customer support? Technical issues with your website? Payment? Is it repetitive?
Roadblocks that directly affect the proper delivery of service to clients are considered major concerns. Address them as quickly as possible and make sure you update clients of the improvement. Email and SMS blasts with service announcements are much appreciated efforts.
Knowing when to take a stand
Feedback can make or break a business. Criticism is essential but remember to also guard over your integrity and authenticity as a practitioner. Will changing your approach contradict your vision and goal or will it be a doorway to better things?
Listen to your intuition, be open to learning, and always revert to your intentions.