Any size and type of business can benefit from customer research. The goal is to find out how people feel about your product and what you can do to improve it so that you wind up making more money selling it.
What’s the best way to solicit customer feedback? BlackEnterprise.com reached out to the members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
Here are their best bets for getting soliciting qualitative information.
1. Software like oDesk and Mechanical Turk
I like using sites and softwares where there isn’t any bias on the product or service. Pay people to go and check out your software and then give an honest review. UserReviews is also a nice software that I’ve used in the past to get solid customer feedback.
2. Bottom Up and Top Down
To effectively assess true customer feedback you need to approach the problem from both directions. First the executives should be having one-on-one conversations with clients to get individual user cases, emotions and stories. Then, you should use a survey or company to conduct numbers-based feedback to ensure your sample set wasn’t an outlier.
3. Email With a Reward
We have the best luck using email to reach our clients, promising something in return for their feedback. The trick is asking a question such as “If we provided service X, would you pay Y if we can guaranteed you Z? If not, why?” These variables are set up by us prior to setting an “established value” if we do launch. And rather than receiving just a yes-or-no response, we want specifics.
4. User Testing
We used to give away Amazon gift cards to have people come into our office and test our software while we took notes. This was always a wonderful experience, but it certainly had time constraints. For a similar cost, we now use UserTesting (or a variety of similar services), and have gotten as much or more value from the video feedback versus in-person.
5. The Good Old-Fashion Telephone
Surveys and focus groups offer valuable information, but nothing is better than an intimate one-on-one conversation with a customer. This encourages unadulterated feedback and helps them feel special, valued and appreciated. The best results come when someone of significance contacts the customer (in other words, no outsourced call centers). Use the 80/20 rule and contact your top 20 percent best customers.