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How to Ask Clients for Feedback

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A large part of growing a successful small business comes from repeat clients, and clients only come back when they're extremely happy with the products or services they're receiving. It should go without saying that your first focus should be on providing an exemplary product or service. Once you have that solid foundation, it's time to focus on the second part of generating repeat business -- tayloring your offerings to what your clients need and want.

Your existing clients possess a wealth of information that can not only help you solve more of their problems and increase sales with your existing client base, but also give you ideas about what else you can be doing to attract new business. The only way to get this information is to ask your clients questions and listen to their answers.

What Questions to Ask Your Clients

There are many different questions you can ask a client to get their feedback on your products, services, customer service, and overall business, but some of the basic questions should include:

  • Why did you choose us as your service provider?
  • What service did we perform for you?
  • How would you rate the service you received? (Provide a rating scale)
  • In what areas did we meet or exceed your expectations?
  • In which areas can we improve?
  • Would you recommend us to others?

Whenever you ask for client feedback, you should make sure you are asking the right questions to produce valuable feedback without asking too many questions and risk not receiving a response at all. You may also want to consider offering an incentive for completing the survey, especially if you find the response rate leaves something to be desired.

How to Ask the Questions

Aside from hiring an external survey company to poll your clients on your behalf or conducting a formal focus group, which is not financially practical for many small business owners, there are a few ways you can ask your clients for feedback:

1. Start a Conversation - Your client feedback process can be as simple as an email message with questions sent to your clients, or a personal phone call. This method is quick and easy, but there are some downfalls. When you take the informal approach to client feedback, you run the risk that the message will be put aside and eventually lost in the shuffle. Plus, if you're asking in a conversational manner, you are most likely using open-ended questions which can prevent any kind of consistency across all of your client surveys. Lastly, you must manually do something with the data collected in order to have it in any kind of useable form.

2. Create an Online Survey - If you have a set of standard questions you'd like to pose to many of your clients, you can take the informal format one step further and create a standardized survey. You can create a protected form in a word processing application, a PDF form, or a form that can be submitted through your website (or even a third-party site). This format will obviously take more time to create, but it allows you to have one standard survey you send to all clients.

3. Use a Hard Copy Questionnaire - Depending on the type of business you have, a hard copy questionnaire that is mailed to your clients may be the best way to go. Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope to make it easier for clients to return the survey. And make sure you have a system in place for entering the data into Excel or some other software so you can collect, review and run reports on the data.

The key, after all, to any client feedback process is not just collecting the data, but gaining insight from it that you can actually use in your business.

This customer satisfaction survey example is a great tool that will get you started.

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