Are Your Customers Happy?

As Internet marketers, it’s our job to make sure that our customers are happy. Not minimally satisfied, but happy with our services. Sure, you can’t please all of the people all of the time, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strive to. Successful marketers are constantly looking for ways to improve their company and product line. One of the most effective ways to do that is through customer feedback.

Your customers may not know all the specifics of your business, but they do know what they need from you. They know what problems they’re having and what’s holding them back. They know what doesn’t work quite the way it should and what new features would make their lives easier. If you want to make your product or service better, ask your customers what they want to see. Customers are like bloggers, they come complete with opinions. And it’s that voice and input that is going to help your company to be successful.

I don’t think I’m telling you anything you don’t already know. On the surface I think most companies recognize how valuable their customers are. But I wonder how many companies really take customer feedback seriously.

Keeping clients happy is something that we often talk about internally at Bruce Clay. We get a sense from our interaction with them and the fact that contracts are being constantly renewed, that they are pleased with our services, but how do we know for sure? How can we engage them in order to learn more, better ourselves and ultimately create even happier clients?

There are tons of ways to get customer feedback. Companies will create satisfaction surveys, stuff comment cards into mailings, make phone calls, or maybe they’ll even set up focus groups. The method that you use to interact with customers isn’t that important to me, what I want to know is if you’re (a) really giving them room to tell you what they think and (b) if you’re listening. Are you encouraging them to engage or are you leading them down the path to give you the answer that you ultimately want. It’s like when you were a kid and your mother would ask if you wanted chicken for dinner while it was already in the oven. Sure, you could say no, but then you got the dreaded Look of Death. The one that burned a fetus-sized hole straight through your soul.

To get the most out of customer feedback, site owners really have to understand what they’re being told. Sometimes that means reading between the lines. You must give customers room to say what they want to say. Sure, you can give specific answer options or rating systems, but make sure there are enough options for them to say what they want to say. In other words, don’t do what WordCamp just did.

I attended WordCamp back in July. It was fantastic. I learned a lot, met a lot of great people, and besides being stranded in the SFO airport overnight for "wind", the whole experience was quite enjoyable. That was two months ago.

Yesterday, I received a customer satisfaction asking me to rate the event. When I opened it up, I got the distinct feeling that the folks behind WordCamp really didn’t want my opinion. Why? Well, because there was no room to actually state an opinion or offer a genuine comment. All I was able to do was rate each of the sessions by giving them a vague "Didn’t Attend", "Not Good", "No Opinion" or "Loved It" assessment. I’m sorry, but there are light years of middle ground missing there. What if I liked it but didn’t love it? What if it was okay but I felt like the presenters could have done a better job? It takes a lot for me to really love something. Ask my kitties, they’re constantly working for their supper.

To be fair, the WordCamp survey did include a few general questions, asking for my favorite and least favorite aspect and what I’d change. The questions were okay, but the boxes where I was to provide my answers were curiously small. Maybe I could have typed all I wanted to inside them, but I didn’t feel like I could. I felt like they just wanted me to write a few positive words and then get out of there. I didn’t get the feeling they were really interested in my opinion, so in the end, I didn’t really give it to them.

You don’t want that to be the feeling customers get when you ask them for your feedback. You want to give them plenty of room and ways to express themselves and voice their opinion. If you don’t give them a place to do it on your site, they’re only going to go somewhere else, and you may not like where that is.

I’d also ask that if you’re going to get feedback from customers about a product they just purchased or an event they just attended, do your best to make it timely. WordCamp was in July. I realize July wasn’t all that long ago, but it was long enough that I don’t remember most of the sessions, even though I wrote about a number of them. WordCamp and the month of July are locked back in my head behinds lots of birthdays, search conferences, company retreats and life events. I would have liked to have received this survey 2 weeks after the event.

Listening to customers and acting on their feedback helps your company to earn a reputation as someone who cares about users and customer service. Encourage them to voice their opinion. You’ll not only end up with happy customers, you’ll ultimately end up with a stronger company.

Lisa Barone is a writer, content marketer & VP of strategy at Overit Media. She's also a very active Twitterer, much to the dismay of the rest of the world.

See Lisa's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (1)
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One Reply to “Are Your Customers Happy?”

Good point, it’s always easier to retain an existing customer than it is to find a new one. With that in mind, you have to solicit their opinions, listen to what they say, and take action where needed. Providing great customer service can be a real differentiator for your company, and you’ll find that a satisfied customer is the best advertising you’ll get.


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