Everyone knows the old adage, “the customer is always right.” It’s a good motto – after all, if you want your business to succeed, you have to cater to your customer’s wants and needs. Whether you repair cell phones at a mall kiosk or are a global medical and industrial grade computer manufacturer like us, ultimately, the customer is king. 

Get to Know Your Customers Day” is a quarterly event, observed on the third Thursday of January, April, July, and October of each year, that is all about the importance of customer feedback.  We at Cybernet believe that the mission of “Get to Know Your Customers Day” is a very important one. 

While there is no one size fits all approach to every business or even every industry, we believe that by following these tips and thinking a little creatively, you can engage your customers more proactively and get the most out of the feedback they give you. Not only that, but you’ll increase your customer’s happiness with your business and make it more likely they will come back to you again. 

The Problem With Online Reviews

Many people think of customer feedback in terms of satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Did the customer end their interaction with your business feeling happy or angry? The ultimate goal of this mindset is to minimize the number of negative interactions and maximize the number of positive ones.

We’ll call this the online review model of customer feedback. Despite its popularity, especially among small businesses, it is a highly flawed system. It tricks too many business owners into thinking that customer feedback is binary: you either get positive feedback or negative feedback. If they leave happy, that means everything went smoothly, and nothing needs to be changed. If they leave angry, then that was a one-off that can be rectified by reaching out and offering some kind of consolation to that individual customer. 

The binary, individualized approach to customer feedback demanded by the online review model only gives you a narrow window into what your customers want and need from your business. There is so much more to learn from your customers than whether they were “satisfied” or “dissatisfied” with a given purchase or interaction. Furthermore, focusing too much of your energy trying to mollify angry customers could leave your otherwise satisfied customers feeling unvalued over time. 

Beyond the limited information you can glean from a binary approach to customer feedback, another fatal flaw in the online review model is its passivity. By and large, under this approach, businesses are left waiting for customers to volunteer their feedback on their own accord.  And unfortunately, people are usually only inclined to volunteer negative feedback, and those who give positive feedback provide little other valuable information.

A Better Way

Of the many flaws of the Online Review model of customer feedback, one of the most damaging is how it causes businesses to focus almost exclusively on negative feedback. While it is undoubtedly necessary to try and salvage your relationship with customers that have a terrible experience with your business, there is so much that you can learn from your customers that regularly have good experiences with your company. 

The Importance of Data

While data can never replace the utility of human interaction when it comes to cementing a loyal customer relationship, without it, it is impossible to truly get a birds-eye view of what your customers think of your business. And it’s not just giant corporations that can benefit from customer data. Companies of all sizes can benefit from collecting, visualizing, and acting upon data collected from their customers.

Collecting data from customers may seem like a daunting task for the uninitiated. Fortunately, you can gather all kinds of data that will help you get to know your customers without even asking them. For instance, finding out the demographic makeup of your customer base is crucial to developing marketing campaigns that will maximize customer retention. 

Likewise, a retail business could collect data on foot traffic to discover when their store is most busy. This data could help them ensure they are fully staffed when necessary and make it so they can time promotions for when they will be most impactful. Thanks to Industry 4.0 tools, it’s possible to both collect and visualize this kind of data in real-time from an industrial panel PC or tablet.

The Value of Surveys

Another way to collect and visualize data from your customer is through surveys. These can be conducted either in person or online and can provide you with valuable insights that other data collection could leave out. While some business owners may be skeptical of the return rate on online surveys, you can boost responses by offering gift cards, discounts, or other financial incentives to customers who complete them.

Surveys can provide you with invaluable information about your customers. For instance, We recently conducted an online survey of our industrial customers. We wanted to know how the COVID-19 pandemic had affected their businesses, specifically in regards to IT. 

Cybernet Industrial Customer Survey Results

The results were eye-opening. Given the disruption to supply chains that resulted from the pandemic lockdowns, we had assumed that our customers would be implementing technological solutions, like warehouse management software or industrial tablets with built-in barcode and RFID readers, to this problem. And while many certainly did, we found that over 60% did not implement any kind of tech-based solution for supply chain disruptions. This means that our marketing and sales teams need to communicate this information to our customers better. 

It was also interesting to see that of the 50% of respondents who had implemented computer hardware to assist with social distancing protocols, over half of them were worried about damaging units with the chemicals used in disinfectants. Since we know this is a common concern among our customer base, we can highlight the fact that lab tests have shown that our entire line of Industrial Grade All in One PCs can withstand a wide variety of commercially available disinfectants and cleaners without damage to the housing and touch screens in our conversations with them. This way they know that our products can withstand the new health and safety protocols brought on by the pandemic.

The Human Element

Of course, data will only go so far in helping you get to know your customers. After all, your customers aren’t a collection of numbers; they’re people. Likewise, a customer relationship is just that, a relationship. Your customers want to know you value them and not just for their business. 

Communication is key to fostering good customer relationships and receiving quality feedback. That means you need to talk to your customers. Call them up on the phone and see how they are doing. Ask them about their needs as customers. How are they using your products? Is there anything that can be improved? Are there any pain points that they have that your products aren’t addressing or could address? This is all valuable information that is hard to get out of a survey or other data collection efforts.

While face-to-face conversation is always best, that is simply not possible for many businesses. Thankfully, other communication tools are available to you to help foster a human connection with your customers. For instance, social media is a great way to interact with your customers and the general public. Most consumers appreciate when companies respond to their messages and posts on social media, especially when they can tell that there is a person on the other end of the interaction as opposed to a chatbot.

By combining the human element with your data-driven approach to customer feedback, you maximize the potential of both methods, allowing you to deliver an unparalleled experience to your customers that will keep them coming back to your business again and again. 

We at Cybernet are proud to offer the computing tools necessary for businesses to deliver for their customers. If you are interested in learning more, contact our experts today!