Don’t fear finding out: how SMEs can use customer feedback to their advantage

While many businesses are obsessed with finding the next customer, increasing current customer satisfaction and retention rates by just five per cent can increase profits by more than 25 per cent.

Loyal customers can grow a business much faster and more efficiently than a marketing strategy. Yet the fear of finding out means so many businesses are missing out on valuable customer feedback.

A long-term customer costs less to reach, a happy customer will buy more and refer others to your business. Building relationships and loyalty translates into cost savings over time and SMEs that focus on this are far better positioned to withstand the changing markets.

A customer’s experience is far more important than the path they take to get there and the mechanics of ad spends and click throughs shouldn’t overshadow the experience they have once they arrive.

Meeting expectations might keep things ticking over, but exceeding expectations will take your business to the next level. The only way you can do that is to know exactly what your customers want and what they think, but it can be a hard pill to swallow and one that many avoid.

Whilst there are tools to virtually follow a customer’s journey, there’s other ways to find out what they think and that’s by simply asking them. When you listen, you learn. Which is why you should be initiating open and honest communication with your customers.

Feedback is a fundamental part of achieving effective two-way communication. It’s a golden opportunity to optimise loyalty and growth and is key to analysing overall satisfaction.
One of the simplest and most popular ways to measure customer satisfaction is the Net Promoter Score (NPS).

An NPS measures how likely a customer is to recommend your product or service, and is a pretty clear indicator of satisfaction. We’re not likely to tell a friend about a smooth transaction online, but we definitely will if we’ve been surprised and delighted along the way.

It can provide insights (for better or for worse) into the quality and value of your business. It can provide clarity and is necessary to understand the behaviours of the customers that keep your business going.

One key thing that is easily overlooked is that most businesses know when their customers are happy. Understanding when and why customers turn sour means you can be on the front foot in making sure you get ahead of any problems (big or small) before they turn into detractors, or worse – exit as a customer.

Zendesk’s 2021 Customer Experience Trends report revealed that 75 per cent of customers are willing to spend more to buy from companies that give them a good customer experience: 80 per cent will switch to a competitor after more than one bad experience.

We know a customer-focused business is the way of the future. In practical terms, a digital set and forget is not the answer. Customers expect a level of connectedness and a great product or service is just the beginning.

Improving the customer experience and providing value in every step of their journey is no longer two dimensional and businesses need to be open to receiving the feedback that will keep them on course.