A few weeks ago I attended an interesting webinar by KISSMetrics on customer retention strategies.  What resonated was their consistent focus on pushing us to gain a more thorough understanding of our customers.

The two most obvious benefits to knowing who you are serving are (1) the ability to add more value for your existing customer base and (2) the ability to further improve your offering for the future.

Here are some sample questions you could – and should – be asking your customers on a routine basis:

  • How are you currently utilizing our service/product?
  • What problem does our service/product solve, and how were you solving it before us?
  • What are some of the important changes you’ve seen (in your business, life, etc.) because of our service/product?
  • How much time/money is our service/product saving you?

Did you notice that these questions are short, sweet and to-the-point?  Don’t forget that your customers are busy people, too – so make it easy for them to answer your request.  Ask too little and you won’t get enough – but ask too much and they may become agitated.

Generally speaking, these types of short but meaningful questions should allow your customers to answer easily – while offering enough information to serve your immediate and long-term needs.

So now we have a good idea of what types of simple questions we should ask our customers.  Let’s look at a few powerful communication channels you can use to capture their responses.

Phone

Pretty old-fashioned, I know.  But depending on your business, it may make the most sense to make a few phone calls.  Especially if you’re in a “high-touch” service business and you have close relationships with your clients.

Web Form

It’s very easy to create a simple form and email your customers with a link (we’ve used Formstack in the past).  This method is great for businesses that are more product-driven, where the volume of customers is in the hundreds or thousands.

Social Media

Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are all great places to poll your customers.  But be aware that these are public venues.  Keep in mind that not hearing from your fans and followers can be just as harmful as negative feedback.  So if you have a smaller following and there’s a chance you won’t get many responses (or none at all), perhaps this is the wrong channel.

Video

For those of you that think big, you could try a combination of Skype and Camtasia to record a video conversation with your customer.  Of course, if you go this route, you’ll want to be sure to have their permission.  You could use software like Bravo Video to make this process more streamlined.  This platform allows your customers to use their webcam to record their responses over the web.

Read second part of this series on ways to leverage the customer feedback you receive.

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