The world of online business can be a lonely place and sometimes it can feel as if the busy Internet entrepreneur is posting up words, only for them to become lost in the ether of the World Wide Web, jostling for attention amid adverts for cheap services and downloads. Even the most hardened business owner can occasionally feel isolated when it comes to gauging how they are getting on in relation to providing a great customer service. The fact is, all online business owners can benefit from opening up feedback mechanisms to establish contact with customers and people who share their business interests.
The trick to getting reassurance that you are on the right track with your business, products, and services is to ask your customers how they feel about them. It may sound obvious, but many people forget to ask their service users for feedback, even while every other element of their online business is carefully attended to. Feedback for an Internet business owner is the equivalent of getting assignments marked at college, or getting a “thank you” card in the post after cooking up a great meal for friends. It’s a way of gaining reassurance that things are going well, and that all your hard work is paying off.
Directly soliciting feedback provides a number of advantages for your business, my own Testimonials page id proof of that. In addition to offering you reassurance that you are doing a great job online, it provides the following benefits:
Helps shape future direction.
Knowing what your customers are looking for, supports you in making enlightened decisions about your future strategic direction. Working “blind” to develop your site is much more difficult than using feedback from your customers to inform you where your business should be heading.
Boosts your motivation.
When you receive customer feedback, you no longer have the uncertainty that posting into the ether without acknowledgement can bring. By asking for regular input from your readers, you are able to ascertain that the articles you post, and the services you provide, are doing a good job in connecting to your online audience and forging positive relationships with clients.
Opens up communication channels for networking.
Customers who regularly visit your site and provide feedback are often the right individuals with whom you can forge business relationships. Those visitors who share a passion for your industry are usually great contacts for ongoing collaborations. Asking for their input into the direction your business should go can work wonders when it comes to building up a great network.
A free evaluation service.
Obtaining feedback directly from your customers, generates a strong evaluation of your blog and business. Instead of paying an agency lots of cash to develop metrics for your success, feedback can achieve the same result for free. If you’re not sure how well a certain blog post or site revamp has been received, all you need to do is create a poll and ask people for their opinion on the new changes.
Lets you inside the mind of your visitors.
Feedback can come in all forms, from survey results and online polls, right through to comments and emailed responses to your questions. When it comes to asking for feedback, there are few vehicles out there as feedback-friendly as the blog. The platform itself is designed to be interactive, built as the archetypal two-way medium for offering up your own opinions, and finding out what people think. Because of this, there are some great tools out there to do just that.
My personal favorite feedback mechanism, Google Docs is streamlined and easy to use. Google Docs enables you to create a new form, selecting from a range of different designs. From there, you can add the types of questions that you want answered by your readers. A range of options are available, including radio buttons, multiple choice selections, and text box fields. All the results from your feedback document are added directly into a Google Docs spreadsheet, making it simple for you to examine and analyze your collected data.
Although Google Docs is a simple and useful application, it doesn’t allow the user to add their own logo to the form, and there’s no way to be notified when you get a new response to your questions. Apart from these two negatives, it’s still one of the best tools out there for, quickly and easily, gathering customer opinions.
Survey Monkey – A popular alternative for feedback purposes, this is a well-designed application that offers one hundred free responses to your feedback requests (which is often more than enough for the average small business).
Survey Gizmo – If you’re looking for a free WordPress plugin, then this is ideal. Survey Gizmo lets you run various polls and surveys from within your WordPress blog.
WP Polls – If you’re a little technologically challenged, this free plugin is a straightforward option, allowing you to easily add a quick poll to a blog page or sidebar in only a few clicks.
Gravity Forms – Gravity Forms is a paid-for plugin but I use it on this site and it has a dizzying array of features and is suitable for intensive data gathering. A single site license is just $39.
PollDaddy – PollDaddy is an extremely popular option for creating quizzes, surveys, and polls. You can choose to subscribe to the service for unlimited responses, or opt for the free WordPress plugin that accepts one hundred responses per month.