There’s no need for guesswork or highly-paid consultants to find the best ways to improve your service, product, or customer experience. Instead, you need to go right to the source. No matter what industry you’re in, your goal is to a) sell and b) make the customer experience as good as possible so you can… sell some more. The old adage “The customer is always right” applies to nothing more than it does to learning how your customers use your product and what they want to gain from it.
Unlike the past, when you’d have to gather a focus group together to gain any kind of insight into your customers’ minds, your customers are available to you via Twitter, Facebook, and Email at all times. Don’t waste their opinions, learn from them – they’re the experts when it comes to buying and using your service or product.
They are already talking about you. Sometimes you don’t even need to ask customers directly – they’re likely already talking about you on the web. See what people are saying in online discussions and on social media sites about your product as well as your competitors’ products. If you see a trend in positive comments or reviews, you’ll get a better idea of your strengths. If you see a trend in negative comments or reviews, you will instantly discover ways that you can improve your product or user experience.
Use your social network for something other than marketing. Too many businesses are lost when it comes to using Twitter, much less getting the most from their followers. People who follow or like a product or company are very likely to help you make it better for them. While marketing is important, the information you can get from loyal users is invaluable to your business.
Go right for the inbox. This is another case where businesses focus too much on sales and not enough on interacting with a loyal customer base. If they’re subscribed to your newsletter, they are interested and want to make the most of their product. Just like followers or Facebook fans, these are the real experts in using your product or service. Use your email newsletter to seek out beta testers, ask users to fill out surveys, or just request any general feedback to get anecdotal accounts of what it’s like to be on the customer end of your business.
Do it all the time. Since there’s no need to round up a focus group, the entire internet becomes one big focus group. Keep soliciting feedback, particularly in the early stage of your business. Early on, you’ll focus largely on qualitative data – users describing the pros and cons of their experience, problems they are having, etc. As your user base gets larger, you will need to go bigger scale and focus more on surveys and learning user behavior through in-depth analytics.