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Generating customer feedback is an important step in growing your business. Not only do your customers represent one of the best pathways of increasing revenue (through the offering of tailored additional products and services), but building strong relationships with your clients and customers can keep you “top of mind” for referrals and other opportunities.

So how do you get to these valuable sources of customer/client feedback? There are four ways I like to use:

1) Consistent follow up at various points after the sale.

If you make a habit of connecting with purchasers at regular intervals, especially on purchases which are high dollar, you can be the first to hear about any problems they may be experiencing, or solutions they desire. You can make sure they remain happy with your product/service and how it was (or is) being delivered. This can easily be done with a quick phone call, or brought up in your next meeting.

2) Sending a survey.

If you work with a lot of clients, or have a large client database, a survey may be a good option. If you are trying to measure your customer satisfaction levels, your survey may only need to be this one question, “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?” – with a scale of 1-10. Based on what I’ve read, this one question, alone, will give you a strong indicator of customer satisfaction in the marketplace. If you are going to send a survey for other reasons, make sure it’s as short as it can be. If you’re asking people to spend time filling out the survey, make it as easy for them as possible!

3) Offering customer only events/forums/chats.

Several of my clients offer customer only forums/chats or “town hall” meetings. This is a chance for them to meet with their customers and get to know them better. In many cases, these meetings also offer some tips and hints for using the product better (in the case of software-as-a-service) or trends/forecasting for the next year (in the case of consulting). Creating stronger relationships with your clients is always a good idea.

4) Ask how people are using your product/service.

This may work better for product driven businesses, but it also works for service businesses. In my case, in the consulting work I do, I often ask clients what they are gaining from our work together. I ask what they are noticing is different in their businesses- and, just as importantly, what is different in themselves. Even though we often agree on the goals and successes, it’s always interesting to learn from the client what change their success has created in them. It’s also a good opportunity to hear if there are any new problems being created that you could solve.

The wonderful thing about any of these options is that they don’t have to take a lot of time, and the return on your time can be very valuable.

I hope you use these methods with great results!