In a compilation of 1,193 commercially successful innovations, 60% came from consumers. Big businesses know that market research can uncover invaluable information – but how accessible is it to smaller businesses?
The concept of Market Research is so powerful, an international television series, “Undercover Boss,” was created to explore the usefulness of regularly evaluating the foundation of a business to ensure its continued success. Few businesses will have the opportunity to be showcased on an episode, but there is a way of accomplishing the same thing by correctly utilising an often-overlooked resource – online customer reviews.
Big businesses have long recognised the value of investing in comprehensive market analysis before making decisions regarding creation or expansion of a new business venture. There are plenty of companies that specialise in this type of research and base their entire business on providing useful information to businesses about their own customers
But of course, this comes at a significant cost and is usually not within the grasp of most smaller businesses. There is an answer and, delightfully, it is a free resource. Meet the online review.
All business owners should be familiar with customer review sites. Customers are able to post comments detailing their experiences – negative and positive – with the businesses they patronise. It's a form of feedback that's becoming increasingly popular and businesses are well advised to keep tabs on everything posted.
Businesses can (and should) respond to customers who leave comments – both negative or positive – to strengthen the relationships with happy customers and turnaround any unhappy customers. (See our articles on how to respond to negative reviews and how to respond to positive reviews.)
But the bigger question is what do you do about this feedback to affect future customers – and the longer-term success of the business? Any insights you recieve from customer reviews are likely to be representative of many more people. Unhappy customers will often just took their business elsewhere and happy customers often don't take the time to tell you what they love about the business or what ideas they have to make it even better.
If one person says it, you can assume it's true for many more. Act on it!
Take particular note of the feedback you get from your happy customers – these are the lifeblood of your business. Take what they love and make it even better. Or take what they love and let everyone else know about it. Become known as the business that… (fill in the blanks).
Also pay close attention to their small gripes and suggestions. The clever business might even offer a small thank-you gift or discount for those who offer suggestions that are implemented. Perhaps uniforms would make employees easier to recognise. Following such a suggestion will win a customer for life and get that customer talking about your business (they'll love the idea of having a role in shaping your business).
Let people know that you're actually LISTENING and that you actually CARE about their satisfaction.
To get more feedback (and more public recognition) you can even encourage more of your customers to review your business. Click here for tips on how to encourage customer reviews.