Why customer feedback is a big deal for small businesses and freelancers

September 23, 2020
5 minutes read

A man walks into his favorite coffee shop. Something’s changed: the barista serves him his regular order, but with new beans.

She sits down for a second to ask what he thinks: he isn’t thrilled, something about the bitterness. Next time, she’ll serve him a less bitter one, she tells him. And she knows he’ll be back.

As a freelancer or small business owner, you have the luxury of establishing direct relations and conversations with your customer base. And it pays off: 77% of consumers see brands more favorably if they seek out and apply customer feedback.

If your services are digital, or if you’re in e-commerce, you can’t just walk up to your customer’s table and sit down for a conversation. But what you can do is actively pursue customer feedback. Here’s how and why.

Feedback is a positive thing, even when it's negative

Yes, you’re short on time, and you can't expect your clients to take time to help you improve your business either. But you’re both constantly looking at ways to improve your business. When they receive your product or service, inevitably they'll have ideas of how it all could have been better.

How will you find out though, if only one out of every 26 customers is likely to bring up complaints? The other 25 will likely switch to another brand or business. Instead of waiting for incidents to escalate and come to you in the shape of complaints and bad reviews, it’s time to get ahead.

Feedback forms help you do just that. The right place, time, and questions will help you drastically improve your goods and services. We’re here to give you the rundown on why and how to implement surveys in your customer service strategy.

Why you’ll want to start collecting feedback from clients

It's highly likely you're already collecting all kinds of data: web analytics or social stats are pointing out some deviations in how your website is being used, or who’s interacting with you. But, what does that really mean? Actual customer feedback helps you take out the guesswork.

Make data come to life

Analytics can be abstract without the right context. To really get to know what your customers are trying to tell you through their behaviour, all you need to do is ask. If you match actual feedback with data, you will get the full picture of what your customers are experiencing, and how you can improve that.

As a freelancer or small business you are often versatile and flexible enough to quickly adapt. If you can identify gaps between what you deliver and what customers want, you can proactively make the necessary changes.

Testimonials from clients

There’s no better marketing campaign than one of your customers sharing positive feedback about you with others. When collecting customer feedback through surveys, you get a chance to collect testimonials you can use on your website or social media.

Customer feedback is a part of customer experience

Listening to your customers leads to customer loyalty. The number one reason customers switch brands is because they feel unappreciated. By giving them a chance to weigh in on what you are offering them, you create a better relationship.

Rather than telling them what you’ve been up to, ask them what they’d like to see and receive. This switch in approach pays: customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than companies that don’t focus on customers.

How to create a highly effective survey for your freelance business

Anyone can create a survey, but it takes some extra work to create a good one. One that doesn't waste your customers’ time, nor yours when reviewing the answers. Here’s what to keep in mind.

Know who you’re asking

It can be awkward for both parties to sit down and start asking where you went wrong. But, collecting feedback still works better when it’s in a personal format. That's why it’s unadvisable to send out one huge survey to everyone in your mailing list.

The issue with that is that first of all, it makes respondents feel insignificant. ‘’Hey, we’re collecting feedback from all of our clients’’. Their first thought? ‘’Okay, you could probably do without mine, what's one less, right?’’ Whereas: ‘’Hey, you've recently bought product A, we’d like to know how you're using it now?’’ makes you feel like a person, not a client number.

Second of all, as you can sense from the second question, not every customer is the same. They probably have used your service differently and chose you for different reasons. Long-term customers will have something different to say than first time buyers.

Create surveys for specific people and send them out at specific moments, or display them in a place on your webpage where the right people will inevitably find it. It’s not about getting as many responses as you can, but about quality ones.

Get real specific

You can't work on a product or service as a whole. You’ll improve bits and pieces. So, match your questions to that. Your customers won't be able to take your entire business to the next level, and you shouldn't expect that from them. The point of feedback is to get insights on small, tangible things that you can actually improve.

Instead of generic questions, pick a few small factors. For instance, when you are analyzing your deliveries, ask: ‘’To what level did the delivery time match your expectations?’’ and: How satisfied are you with the number of updates on your delivery?’’. Instead of: ‘’How fast and reliable do you think we are?’’. You can be slow, but still very reliable.

Think backwards

There are some standard questions people are expecting to find in surveys. However, they can often be eliminated for everyone's sake. When formulating questions, start with the end in mind: what can you really do with an answer to this question? This will help you keep your survey short and sweet.

Also ask yourself what type of responses will help you improve your business. Surveys full of scales and multiple choice questions restrict your customers to replying within your own assumptions. It might even leave you with even more hard-to-interpret data. Open-ended questions help you find the thoughts and feelings behind the numbers.

What to do when feedback actually starts coming in

Feedback is quite the thing to receive, so first gather up the courage to read and be open to it. When you’re ready, respond to the customers who left you feedback. All of them. At least to thank them for their time.

If the feedback points out complaints or issues, follow up with that specific customer to offer a solution. If you often get feedback on things that are unclear, either work on your User Experience or create guides or better FAQs to help your customers.

If customers are expressing interest in new features, releases, or products, catch them early. Offer them early access or discounts to secure their next purchase.

Some responses might not directly make sense to you or show you what you can do to be better. Here you have an opportunity to really show your customers you are serious about your intentions. Follow up with these customers. You could even offer them perks in return for more feedback.

Connect with your customers

As a freelancer or small business owner, you have the opportunity to build true connections with your clients. Take that chance, and show them that you care about their opinions. Make surveys a part of your customer service and make your clients feel heard and happier so that they become repeat customers.

About the Author

Vicky Frissen is a freelance writer who contributes to Wave and has an itch for giving brands more human voices, online. She’s a writer for Typeform and can’t stop blogging about digital marketing and digital nomad life.

By Vicky Frissen

The information and tips shared on this blog are meant to be used as learning and personal development tools as you launch, run and grow your business. While a good place to start, these articles should not take the place of personalized advice from professionals. As our lawyers would say: “All content on Wave’s blog is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice.” Additionally, Wave is the legal copyright holder of all materials on the blog, and others cannot re-use or publish it without our written consent.

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