You don’t have to be Amazon to provide a world-class customer experience. All you have to do is listen to your customer’s feedback. Find out what they love about your business. Ask them how you can improve and then make changes. Providing an amazing customer experience doesn’t just help your existing customers, it also helps you get new ones. 57% of customers have stopped buying from a company because a competitor provided a better experience. Regular customer feedback is the fastest way to provide an experience your customer’s can’t resist. Here’s our list of the best customer feedback strategies for local business owners.

1. Net Promoter Scores

In a perfect world, customer feedback would include rich responses and actionable data. In the real world, however, that’s rarely the case. It wasn’t until the introduction of net promoter score (NPS) surveys in 2003 that major companies agreed upon a way to combine qualitative and quantitative data into a useful customer satisfaction metric. Today, NPS is used by 66% of the Fortune 1000 to quantify the customer experience.

One major reason NPS has become the go-to metric for measuring customer satisfaction over the last two decades is that it’s easy to collect and easy to use. NPS surveys ask customers to rate your business on a scale of 1 to 10 and then provide a reason for their score.

For local business owners, it can be difficult to find an NPS tool that focuses on more than just the online experience. Feedback is our newest product designed to measure customer satisfaction at every single touchpoint. So you can know in real-time when there’s a sub-par experience with a specific location, employee, or department. It allows you to get more feedback faster, and act on it instantly through text messaging.

Best NPS Tool for local business owners: Feedback

 

2. Customer Surveys

Surveys are a reliable form of customer feedback that’s been around for decades. They range from a simple Google Form to complex multi-product feedback platforms that stand up to academic rigor.

In its most basic form a survey is a series of questions that inform business owners about their customer base. More advanced survey solutions will tell you exactly how many customers you must survey to get statistically significant feedback, which words to use for unbiased results, and even the question types that work best for different situations.

One problem with surveys as a customer feedback tool is that they don’t provide immediate answers. It takes time to compile survey results and to interpret what they’re telling you. But if you’re looking for a flexible customer feedback strategy that’s easy to spin up in a short amount of time, surveys are a great option.

Best Free Customer Survey Tool: Google Forms

Best Paid Customer Survey Tool: Qualtrics

 

3. User Testing

User testing is a fancy way of saying record customers using your website or product. One of the more popular methods for technology companies, user testing records users trying to perform specific tasks like trying to sign-in to your app or make a website purchase. The results are an impressive combination of qualitative and quantitative information useful for making your customer’s online experience more user-friendly.

Given the recent popularity of user testing in the startup world, there are dozens of products that now offer features loosely related to user testing. User Hub is one of the most highly recommended products, but like most highly recommended products, comes with a heftier price tag. If you’re looking for something fast and easy, PickFu is a great alternative. They’ve agreed to give a $50 credit to the first 50 users who create a new poll. Just enter promo code “PODIUM50” to get started.

While user testing works well for an app-based product, it’s less relevant to local businesses with a brick-and-mortar footprint. Although it could be useful for any business with a website, user testing tools are primarily focused on startups and tech companies.

Best Free user Testing Tool: PickFu

Best Paid user Testing Tool: Usability Hub

 

4. Interviews

If user testing felt a little too high-tech for your tastes, then customer interviews might be just right. Customer interviews are exactly what they sound like. You reach out to your customers and interview them about their experience with your business. When it comes to in-depth feedback, there’s nothing better than sitting down with your customers and hearing from them how you’re doing.

Just because you’re using an old school method, it doesn’t mean you can’t use high-tech tools to conduct interviews. Appear.in is an amazingly simple tool for setting up video interviews. The Pro version will even let you record interviews to refer back to later on. A less popular approach, but possibly the most effective interview solution is to just call your customers on a regular basis to ask about their experience. Even a once-a-week phone interview will yield surprisingly insightful customer feedback.

The benefits of customer interviews are fairly obvious—in-depth insights, real responses, and fast feedback. But the drawbacks might be a little harder to appreciate. Regular interviews give your business lots of qualitative info, which is usually harder to measure, making it difficult to act on. If you want fast feedback and in-depth insights, consider using interviews as your primary source of customer feedback. As a starter, here are some questions you should be asking every customer.

Best Free Customer Interview Tool: Phone Call

Best Paid Customer Interview Tool: Appear.in (freemium)

 

5. Social Listening

Not every customer feedback tool requires you to pay for an annual license to some new software. For the bootstrapped business owner, social listening is a low-cost alternative.

What is social listening? Social listening is the practice of monitoring social media to find mentions (positive and negative) of your business and employees. This approach is great for hearing unfiltered feedback about your business, but keep in mind that it usually skews more negative than positive. Once you learn how to respond to negative reviews, it can be a great way to learn from real customers.

Almost every social media management tool on the market offers social listening capabilities. Hootsuite is an industry leader and offers a full-featured free version that’s easy to set up and start using in minutes. If you’re interested in taking your social listening to the next level, Buffer Reply is a great scalable tool for responding to customers through social media.

Best Free Social Listening Tool: Hootsuite (freemium)

Best Paid Social Listening Tool: Buffer Reply