Atlanta Business Chronicle Leadership Trust

Atlanta Business Chronicle Leadership Trust is an invite-only network of influential business leaders, executives and entrepreneurs in Atlanta.

A business performs best when leadership has insight into customers’ wants and experiences. Such insight can help guide service offerings, provide marketing copy and more. In theory, getting customer feedback is easier today than it ever has been — online surveys, review sites and multiple social media outlets offer tools for both businesses and consumers. However, persuading your customers to share their experiences can be challenging.

Below, six leaders from Atlanta Business Chronicle Leadership Trust share strategies about when and how businesses can approach their customers for feedback, as well as what they should do with the information they receive.

1. Have someone else solicit feedback.

Asking for candid feedback can be awkward, and a fear of offending or hurting feelings can make people reluctant to say what they really think. So have someone else do it. Ask a trusted person from your marketing or PR team, a consultant, an outside adviser, or even a board member to ask specific questions (for consistency), and make sure some of those questions are about what could be better. – Mary-Cathryn Kolbbrrrº

2. Show your commitment to customer care.

The entire customer journey experience — from a website visit to a phone call, email or in-person interaction — is paramount. Every touchpoint should be one that reinforces your business’s commitment to customer care. If this is done successfully, the customer will be more inclined to provide feedback without your needing to ask. – Don DoddsM16 Marketing

3. Always respond to all feedback.

I’d recommend making it a clear goal to seriously respond to all feedback (positive and negative) your customers give you. This way, you will get an active feedback loop with your customers. – Mats-Ola BydellOdgers Berndtson

4. Ask what you can do to improve.

We ask our clients to rate their satisfaction level at the end of each project. We ask them not only what they felt went well with the project but also what we could have done better. – Michele GrantBlock + Tackle

5. Start by building a strong bond.

We kick off every client relationship with a half-day offsite that encourages team bonding. Everyone working on the project, both on the agency’s side and the client’s side, attends with the goals of getting to know each other better and setting a foundation where trust can begin to build. We find that a trusting partner is more likely to openly share feedback. – Jeff HilimireDragon Army

6. Focus on encouraging referrals.

We always strive to perform the best we can, and we have an annual stewardship review with our clients to receive direct feedback. However, the best feedback we can receive is when a client refers us to someone new — it’s the best strategy for us to know if we are executing on our client service commitments and goals. – Neil MetzheiserLockton Companies, LLC