First off, there exists a concept that needs to be understood and assimilated by every company executive – consumers care about other consumers opinions. You should too. Apart from the fact that customer feedback is the best way to create better, more effective products and to streamline your services, creating portals to resolve customer grievances can help reduce the levels of negative word-of-mouth that you receive.
Plus, resolving a customer’s problem and delivering added value to boot can often turn a rabid critic into an ardent fan. And speaking of fans, creating customer feedback portals (especially on social media) will allow fans to spread the love they feel for your establishment and all it stands for.
You can also ask your happiest and most satisfied customers for reviews. Nothing helps sway a client like a bunch of positive customer reviews. This may be harder to achieve in the B2B sphere, but you should most definitely try. Leverage the information gleaned by your customer support staff to identify your happiest customers, and incentivize review writing with a discount, freebie or even a reciprocal review.
As far as possible, attempt to obtain reviews from companies that are as diverse as possible in terms of size, industry, subsector, etc. By posting diverse reviews, you’ll open yourself to a diversified client portfolio and won’t be dependent on a single market to generate contracts and feedback.
And speaking of reviews, there are tons of review sites out there some reputable with large followings, and some that are little more than bits of hastily strung together HTML. Get out there and book your space on the most highly-rated review sites. One of the easiest and most necessary aspects of maintaining your online reputation is harnessing fan power to ensure that you receive a horde of positive reviews. You can then augment your efforts by actively participating in discussion forums and solving industry-related problems.
Another excellent way to drive customer feedback is to create case studies about your best customers. Now, the idea behind a case study may be to promote your own services and products in the context of a specific problem faced by a particular industry, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be complementary when mentioning the client. A great way to drive client appreciation is to portray a situation where the client and you worked in tandem to resolve a specific issue. Too many companies are overly promotional with their case studies and often paint the client as being helpless to overcome a problem until the company being promoted steps in to implement a miracle cure.
And finally, we come to social media. Can’t forget that, can we? Not in 2012, anyway.
Poised to emerge as the world’s greatest marketing and customer feedback tool, social media can help you generate massive amounts of positive word-of-mouth. You know the drill set up accounts and pages, hold contests, start lively discussions, provoke intelligent reactions and do everything possible to engage with your customer base and create a rich dialogue that everyone can enjoy and participate in.
Remember, you’re not dealing with the same folks who bought Ginsu knives. Instead, you have to contend with Gen Y, a race of amateur technologists and savvy communicators that know exactly what they’re looking for and how to find it. Encouraging feedback is the first and biggest step to isolating what they want from YOU and how they want to receive it.