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How to do it for your business

There are two types of feedback: information that is requested, and information that is spontaneously given, either directly to you or directly to anyone who wants to listen, through technology or word of mouth.

There are two types of feedback: 

  • information that you have requested, and can control
  • information that is given spontaneously, either to you or publicly, through technology or word of mouth, and is out of your control

Both types of feedback are equally important and valuable.

Invited feedback

  • Visitor books   
  • Paper based comment cards/ questionnaires 
  • Third party online surveys
  • Online or paper surveys from specific schemes
  • Your own online survey
  • Electronic device – such as a handheld PDA
  • Telephone surveys
  • Mystery shopping
  • Focus groups
  • Direct request from you or your staff

Spontaneous feedback

  • Through websites blogs and review sites – generally to a very wide audience
  • Directly given to you or to your staff
  • By letter to you or to others connected to you
  • By word of mouth to friends/family/other
  • By letter or comment to the media

When to ask for feedback

As well as thinking about the type of feedback method that suits you best, you also need to think about when to ask. Will it be during or after their visit? Will it be annually or with every visit?  It’s important to get the balance right and not to overwhelm the customer with too many questions or paperwork.

Depending on how you have gathered the feedback, there are a variety of options available for you to analyse it.  

How feedback can motivate your staff

There are many schemes that businesses use to link customer feedback with staff motivation. Hearing directly from the visitor about the experience received, brings home to staff the reality that this is a people business.  

Without this people ingredient, it is too easy to slip into delivering a process rather than a living, breathing experience and it is well worth reminding everyone of this at every opportunity.

Asking the right questions

The secret to knowing what questions to ask is to know what you want to do with the answers. 

Questions need to be short and succinct, with a mixture of open and closed questions so that you can assess both the emotions surrounding the experience as well as how the visitor will rate it.

It is important to get the balance right and not overwhelm the visitor or yourself with too many questions resulting in too much paperwork. Also, you will want to know the truth whatever it is, so there is little point in skewing the questions in your favour. 

Sometimes the downside of asking people to write a few comments without the prompt of a question, is that they are unlikely to write something that you don’t want to hear, whatever they thought. 

However there are some questions that should appear in every feedback form/questionnaire carried out and these cover questions relating both to the demographic of the visitor as well as the experience they have had.

The five basic questions to ask are:

  1. What did you like?
  2. What could have been better?
  3. What suggestions do you have?
  4. Would you recommend us and why?
  5.  How was your experience of the area?

For more details of these basic questions, visit the tools section. 

Top tips

  • All feedback is important and valuable
  • Taking action based on the feedback you gather is crucial
  • Choose the feedback tool or tools that are right for your business
  • Remember that although paper based feedback is more time consuming to analyse, it can help include technophobes
  • Make sure that you are asking the right questions
  • Ask questions about how you do things as well as what you do
  • Start to benchmark your results so that you can track and measure improvements in your business and look for new opportunities