Customers who are unhappy with a business interaction are so much more vocal than those who love you (more from inc.com). Every customer interaction is an opportunity we must embrace if we are to evolve into life enhancing, passion filled, boutique businesses. How do you gather customer feedback? How do you evolve your business over time and ensure you aren’t just offering what you love, but what they want? There are so many ways to communicate these days, lets talk about ways we can ensure we actually hear what our customers are saying, and respond accordingly.
Keeping Track of Reality
You have to track what’s happening in your business! I don’t care whether you offer 1:1 Personal Training or Therapy, Group Fitness or Yoga Classes, Teacher Trainings, please, please, please, ensure you are tracking some of this somewhere! This doesn’t have to be overly complicated. We have so many software options available, with a wide range of functionality and cost. You will never know what’s working or what isn’t if you aren’t tracking and looking at reality. Our feelings and emotions will often misguide us. Minimally, I want you to track sessions served, clients, and money/sales. Play around with the software products you try, use their online help, and create habits to keep things up to date. If you have a team, train and communicate with them on what you need and hold them (and yourself) accountable for it. Be OK with changing these processes and procedures as needed. Some of my favorite business management soultions in the wellness space: MINDBODY, Zingfit, Wellness Living, Accuity, and Square.
Thank you to the software gods for automating so much of our lives! Perhaps we can even forgive the occasional headaches they cause. Here are some products that either I used and loved, or my friends did. It’s not a comprehensive list, but gives you an idea of what’s out there.
Survey Monkey or Google Forms can be used to ask some basic questions for free / low budget. I.e. rate your session on a scale of 1 to 10, would you recommend us to a friend, with an open field for more comments. I let customers know in automatic communications with links, that they would be entered into a drawing to win a free month of yoga in exchange for their responses. This kind of worked for a while, but I never got a ton of feedback this way in all honesty. It was a good start, though.
Your scheduling / CRM software might have an automatic review feature for customers to respond to. Ensure you are optimizing your use of this, if so. The MINDBODY App is useful for this and often underutilized.
Listen360 automatically asks for customer feedback and invites happiest customers to post elsewhere online. My clients responded to this so much more than my low budget method listed above. They also had a widget that let me list the good reviews on my website which customers loved.
Referrizer can help you generate more leads on your website and more referrals through their partner network. I’ve personally had lots of clients rave about their free and paid options.
Broadly’s online review platform automates customer feedback via a branded email or text directly to Google, Facebook, TripAdvisor, Nextdoor, or any other review site.
Where Is Home?
One question you might ask about any application you use, is where does the data live and how is it backed up? Does the application store the reviews in their own platform or do they help you get reviews on other review sites? It seems like Google Reviews, Yelp, and Facebook reviews aren’t going away, so getting good presence in those channels is smart. I didn’t mind the applications I used that stored the reviews within their application along with clear reporting and follow up functionality. I did make a major mistake of never exporting before I turned off the service. Poof, thousands of positive reviews were gone! Don’t do that.
Your Response Is Critical
“Accountability is the glue that ties commitment to results” said Bob Proctor. My review game went through the roof when I started using an application to help me gather them, (cough, cough, automation is wonderful) and when I enlisted a staff person to help me respond to them on a regular basis. For a while, I responded personally to everything negative with a phone call. Eventually, I had my front desk team do this once a week using some canned responses I saved for them. If they felt uncomfortable or wanted me to respond, they could always forward it on and I’d copy them on the response for their reference. They got really good at this!
Paper Isn’t Dead Yet
Last, but not least, having physical feedback boxes at my studio was always a necessity. Some people always used them and it was worth having a spot for them.
Hopefully, you are reminded how important it is to ask for feedback and this is one area where technology can really help :).