Whatever industry you work in, whether as an individual or company, it can be wise to gather feedback from your clients or customers.

Asking for feedback can be nerve-wracking as you open yourself up to potentially hurtful criticism, as well as glowing encouragement. For that reason, if we give opportunities for feedback at all, we usually create a private way for feedback to be delivered. This might be a one-to-one meeting or an online survey. However, you might be surprised to learn that when you create opportunities for customers to leave feedback in a public setting – e.g. on social media or other online platforms – the benefits outweigh the potential risks.

Are you making the most of your feedback?

hospitalityEarlier this year, Barclays newsroom published an article entitled  The Feedback Economy – a £3.2bn opportunity for the UK hospitality and leisure industry. It explained that by improving how customer feedback is used, the UK hospitality and leisure industry could boost the UK economy by £3.2bn over the course of the next decade.

59% of consumers say that online feedback already helps them in determining where they visit and 45% are more likely to leave a review today compared to 18 months ago.

If you’re a restaurant or bar owner, or perhaps you provide other public services, and you haven’t yet got your Facebook and Twitter pages up and running, now might be the time.

70% of millennials say that online reviews play a role in their decision making.

Feedback can be very valuable, however, it’s not always useful.

shutterstock_153454430-1Sometimes customers are disappointed with your offering because it doesn’t match their expectations. Before you take their feedback onboard, first try and find out whether they are your target market. Were they disappointed because the service didn’t fit their needs, but perhaps it wasn’t supposed to? If this is the case, consider how and where you communicate what you offer. Do your research, ask questions of your customers and ask staff for input too. It’s not worth making a rash business decision in order to calm a disgruntled customer who may never return anyway.

Look for patterns in your feedback.

This is where you need to pay the most attention. Is there something in particular people always talk about when they visit? How can you exploit this even further? Is there a USP you’ve missed? Your customers are valuable in more than one way. Make the most of it.

60% of businesses value feedback with nearly 60% reporting a boost to trade as a result of feedback left by customers.

Harpers recently published an article encouraging restauranteurs to embrace smartphone technology. Their research shows that consumers are more likely to leave positive comments than negative ones.

In fact, new research shows that consumers are 26% more likely to share a positive dining experience than complain about a disappointing one (7%). If you’re receiving positive comments, make sure you know about it. Share them and respond.

As we’ve said, even negative feedback can be useful. It’s all about how you respond – whether that’s to take the feedback onboard, offer some sort of compensation, or as one Stockport cafe owner recently did, use the negative reviews to actually attract more customers.

Whatever your approach, negative feedback doesn’t have to be as scary.

shutterstock_360495389-1The important thing is to give people an outlet to share their good experiences. Make sure you have an easy to find Twitter handle and engage with your customers who are willing to take the time to promote you to all their friends.

A quarter of people now take photos of their food when eating out.

Twitter remains the go-to app for consumers wanting to share pictures on social media, with 17% sharing their pictures on various platforms. You might not love the social media platforms yourself, but they can undoubtedly help your business. If you don’t have the time to personally invest time in managing social media, you might want to consider outsourcing this to another company. Just make sure they have a clear brief in terms of tone of voice and values, as they are the voice of your company.

We hope you’ve found this article useful. If you have contacts who could benefit from it, please feel free to share it on your social media platforms too!

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