The Art of Listening: 5 Simple Strategies for Responding to Your Customers


You've sent a survey and your customers have spoken! Great! But that's only half the battle! The hard part is next…figuring out what to do with all that feedback. 

First, don't panic. While you may be staring at tens, hundreds, or even thousands of survey results and comments, that is what you want. Insights from people that actually use your product or would consider using it can help take your business to the next level.

So take a deep breath and get ready to respond. Whether the feedback is constructive or an anger-filled tirade from a unhappy client, every interaction with your customers offers an opportunity to produce great results and, ultimately, increase both your client base and market share.

Once you've reached out and asked for feedback, the real work begins. Here are five simple strategies to help you engage and respond to your customers:

1. Acknowledge the Positive   

A simple “thank you” to your customers for responding to surveys can have a significant affect on your entire customer base. Taking the time to respond indicates a level of personal attention that is often lost in today's technological world. Even though you're responding to one specific review or suggestion, you are sending a resounding and powerful message to the rest of your customers as well.

However, if your feedback has come in a variety of forms (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, Email, SurveyMonkey), I would suggest responding to the social media comment first. Facebook and Twitter's platforms naturally encourage conversation, so your customers expect a reply. Additionally, responding on these interactive platforms will likely increase the traffic on your company's business page. Mike Bluementhalin, a business and tech writer in Seattle, explains in a post on LocalU

“With Facebook rapidly becoming a preferred review site for both clients and businesses, you should plan on both monitoring and commenting on every review that occurs there.”

2. Be Genuine

One of the biggest mistakes for business owners is trying to respond rapidly to EVERY response. In doing this, the replies often begin to sound robotic or “canned.” This gives the impression that you are responding out of obligation instead of genuine appreciation. Templates and predetermined responses can do more harm than good.

What's the antidote? Personalize your response to each customer, especially on social media. When you're staring at tons of reviews and comments, it is difficult to remember that there is an actual person on the other end. In reality, one personal response can go farther than a hundred that are insincere and stale. If a customer comments about a great experience at your business or establishment, thank them for their business, tell them you enjoyed serving them, and then invite them AND their friends back for a visit later in the week. Not only does the response sound real and genuine, you are simultaneously driving more business by instructing them — and anyone reading your conversation — to invite friends to use your product or service. 

3. Ask More

Sometimes your customers' comments may be vague or ambiguous. Don't get frustrated — reach out! If they commented on a post, answered a survey question, or rated an experience, engage with them. Ask them: What did they enjoy about their visit? Why did they enjoy/hate a specific part of your product or service? Can they clarify this certain portion of their comment so you can help them on their next visit?

Asking for clarification on the subject will show all your customers that you genuinely care about making their experience and your company better. As Jaime Marshal, a writer and customer service specialist, explains on RewardNetwork

“Asking for more details is a great way to show you care and collect information that may improve any operational deficiencies and customer perceptions.”

4. Take Responsibility

Apologizing can be difficult, and it is made even harder when business owners know they're not wrong! However, this defensive attitude can cloud our judgments and deter customer involvement. Your customer's problem is your problem. So, don't be defensive! This is your best opportunity to be proactive. Listen to your customers and, instead of making excuses, take the feedback as an opportunity for learning. Shama Kabani, the CEO of The Marketing Zen Group, is quoted in Forbes as saying, 

“Even if you do get negative feedback, you can turn it into a positive by engaging in a constructive way and showing that you’re a genuine business.”

5. Real Time Response

The old adage, “Timing is Everything!” definitely applies here. Sarah Perez, writing for TechCrunch, explains with apps like Google My Business,

“As consumers leave new reviews online, the app’s users will receive a push notification on their devices, alerting them to the added review. They can then launch the app to respond to the review instantly.”

Once you have responded and fixed an issue with your product or business, let your customers know! Invite them back in for a second trial or ship them a newer version of corrected merchandise. These customers are likely to then respond to you, and consequently your entire customer base, thanking you for acknowledging their feedback and acting on it — making your business look even more better. 

With the plethora of technology that exists today, reaching out and responding to your customers is easier than ever, so start the conversation and you'll learn and grow!

What's your strategy for responding to customer feedback? Tweet @EidsonPartners to share your knowledge!

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