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How to use customer feedback to improve your marketing

Many times businesses owners are afraid of asking their customers, what their opinions are. They are generally afraid of the information that they will get back. However, the reality is that you should always be seeking feedback, from your customers. Whether you get negative or positive feedback, you can use the information to improve your marketing efforts. If your business is going to truly be successful, then you will need to structure everything that it does, to meet the needs of your customers. Getting feedback from your customers can help you to do just that. Here is what you need to know about how to use customer feedback to improve your marketing-

- Know what customer feedback can do for you-One of the major issues that you can discover when you get customer feedback, is how you are doing compared to your competitors. You always want to know what you need to be doing to give you the competitive edge, over your competition. In addition, customer feedback gives you an insight into problems that could be developing, which then allows you to fix them before they become big problems. Keep in mind that with this information you can literally save a significant amount of money in production, inventory and marketing.
- Follow up with customers who have just made a purchase-The people whose feedback you really want the most are the ones who have just purchased from you. Immediately after a customer makes a purchase (whether online or in your store), give them a quick survey card. This will give you immediate feedback about all aspects of their purchase. However, you should make sure that the feedback is quick to fill out. Most customers will not want to spend more then a minute or two filling it out. You can offer an incentive (a free product or cash), for getting customer feedback.
- Follow up in person-Do not overlook the opportunity to follow up in person with your customers. Train your employees to ask about your customers shopping experience and if there was anything that could have gone better. While this type of feedback is more informal, it can also give you important information on how you improve your marketing program.
- Have a thick skin-While many business owners fear getting negative feedback; others realize that negative feedback offers them a chance to improve. Keep in mind that while your customers, may criticize things about your company, this gives you the opportunity to change things, before they silently leave and go to your competitor. Many businesses are losing customers simply because they don't know they have problems that could be corrected. This is especially important when it comes to your marketing, since it will in large part; determine the long term success of your business.
- Hire out your customer feedback, if you need to-Because it is so important to get customer feedback, you may want to consider hiring a firm to get it for you. There are several firms that can conduct formal surveys and even focus groups, with your customers, to get their insight into your marketing message, product and services. This can be a valuable way to gain the detailed information that you need. While this can be expensive, keep in mind that this will provide you with extremely detailed customer feedback.
- Act on it-Nothing is more frustrating then to see a company get customer feedback, only to file it away. Simply getting the information is not enough. You need to make sure that you take the customer feedback you get, and use it to improve your marketing message. This is the best way to insure the long term success of your business.

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