Just look at fashion through the ages. Hem lengths rise and fall, the volume of skirts become restricted by a shortage of material due to war and once that shortage is over, skirts become more voluminous than ever. Hats were broad rimmed then close fitting, then minimal before falling out fashion altogether and then finally making a resurgence again decades later.
Customer’s needs, desires and expectations change, nothing stays the same for long so if you want to continue to grow your business, you need to keep up in touch with your customers.
One of the ways you can do this is by continuously monitoring your customer experience, something that you should ideally be doing anyway to act as an early warning system for potential issues.
By touching base with your customers on a regular basis you will be able to spot when their needs, desires and expectations are changing and respond quickly to keep them engaged.
There are lots of different ways that you can engage with your customers. These include:
Customer surveys – are probably the best known. They can be used for everything from market research to monitoring satisfaction/loyalty
Mystery shoppers – they can be used to test out a business’ customer experience both on- and off-line
Focus Groups – these are carried out in person with a facilitator and are often use to gather opinions on new product and services or packaging, etc. The discussions prompted by questions from the facilitator can provide a lot of really useful feedback
Opinion Polls – these are a quick and easy way to gauge customers’ opinions on a range of options
Customer Reviews – these can be great for getting objective feedback from customers. Regularly monitor anywhere your business might be reviewed, both those on your website or Facebook and those outside your control such as TripAdvisor and other review sites
Monitoring social media – as above, it is always best to monitor not only your own social media pages and groups for comments but also do a regular general search to see if your business is mentioned elsewhere
Usability tests/exercises – these are commonly used to get feedback on websites or new products and services. They require a bit of planning but are incredibly effective
Interviews – if done well interviews are a great way to get feedback from customers. Let’s face it, which of us doesn’t like to talk. If your customers truly feel that you are interested in what they have to say, they will be happy to talk
Comment boxes – these are strategically placed boxes, usually placed at the bottom of a page, as are commonly seen on blogs, that allow customers to respond what they have read
The best methods to use are dependent on the type of business you are in and what you want to use it for.