Tracking down customer feedback can be tricky business. You would think it would be easy to find, but when you actually start looking, you end up wading through all kinds of comments that may not be useful to you, if you can find them at all.
What you want to look for is the negative feedback, as well as your customers’ questions that they’ve posted in various online platforms. Yes, it is great to see comments from people raving about your business, so you know what’s working, but finding out what’s wrong with your product or service is what you need, to improve.
So where do you find this kind of feedback? There are a few channels where you can look for it, and they may not be obvious at first.
1) Independent Online Discussion Forums
Start with a simple Google search of your business’ name, and see what comes up. You can tell a lot right away, just by looking at the search results, and you might even see a comment that jumps right out at you, such as, “Don’t use this service!” That’s a great opportunity to address the concern of a disgruntled customer and defend your business by replying to their comment.
When you Google your business, nothing may come up at all, or you may find an obscure conversation that someone has started about what they think of your product or service. Don’t be afraid to go a few pages deep into the search results, and take a look at the obscure comments people have posted about your business.
Reddit gains roughly 20,000 new subscribers per day, and its claim of being “the front page of the Internet” is a pretty accurate description. If there is a conversation happening on the Web, Reddit is one of the first places where you will find it.
As Reddit is generally a topics-based engine, however, your best bet when looking for useful commentary here is to search for threads related to your line of work or specific products, rather than the exact name of your business. This method might take a little more time to find relevant feedback, but it remains a great resource because people tend to offer their opinions more freely on Reddit.
3) Social Media
If you’re still waiting for your customers to leave comments on your website and at the bottom of your blog posts, then you’re missing the boat because you’re on the wrong boat. Unless you have a daily blog with a massive readership, you’re rarely going to find any meaningful conversations directly on your business’ site.
The discussion is mainly happening on social media, namely Facebook. This is where your customers will be voicing their complaints, questions, and even praise for your products or service, so you would do well to maintain an active presence on a variety of social media channels.
Many small businesses are terrified of Yelp, due to the horror stories we’ve all heard about a Yelp review single-handedly bankrupting a business. Though there may be some truth to those stories, businesses don’t have to worry about the business review website nearly as much as they do.
First of all, your business might not even exist on Yelp; it’s not a bad idea to register an account with them because your customers will look for you on the site and post helpful feedback there, as well. Also, check out similar apps such as Zagat (for restaurants) or Foursquare.
In the event that you do receive a negative review from a Yelper, this post has some pointers for handling it like a Pro:
How to Handle a Bad Review on Yelp
5) Just Ask For It
When you’re on a mission to find customer feedback and see what aspects of your business need improvement, have you ever just asked your customers what they think? It seems fairly obvious, but many business owners won’t do it because they think this would be too intrusive.
In truth, most people will not do anything unless they are asked to do it. This is why you should never be shy about asking your customers for their general thoughts about their experience with your business, and you can even ask them pointed questions to get the information you need, such as your pricing or customer service. It can’t hurt to ask.
Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.