You Don’t Know If You Don’t Ask: Seeking Feedback for Your Business That Leads to More Revenue

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Originally featured in “VGM Playbook: Growing Your Business in Today's Environment" by VGM & Associates, Lindy Tentinger, President of VGM Forbin, explains the opportunity that asking your customers for feedback can have on business development and growth. 

I don’t know about any of you, but I could write a book filled with all the one-liners I’ve heard from my parents over the years. Sometimes it was advice I didn’t want to take or knew would be difficult but also, deep down, I knew was the right thing to do. One piece of advice I’ve received from them a lot in my life is, “You don’t know if you don’t ask.” Asking can be tough. Asking can be vulnerable. Asking can mean hearing answers we don’t want to hear or are afraid to hear. But, asking is also filled with opportunity.

Simply asking customers about their experience with your business after an interaction says a lot about your brand. It shows that you care, and, if you follow up with dissatisfied customers, it shows you want to get better. In addition, research has shown time and time again that it is less expensive and more fruitful to grow revenue through current customers (where you can also benefit from referrals) than constantly investing in acquiring new ones.

Your customers and prospective customers are searching for your services and products online. They may take interest in local companies that can meet their needs. What do you want them to find about your brand? Digital activity has only increased since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. This has forced brands to accelerate all things digital. Forrester analyst, Michelle Beeson, recently dubbed this as a brand’s “digital destiny.” Beeson says the most successful brands will take more control of their digital destiny moving forward. Since consumers do not differentiate digital and physical channels, brands must focus on one customer experience that incorporates all touch points. 

A customer’s collective experience leads to your brand’s overall reputation in the marketplace. And, perception is reality. In fact, according to Weber Shandwick data in The State of Corporate Reputation in 2020: Everything Matters Now report (via PR Newswire), executives believe their companies’ reputation accounts for 63% of their market value on average. According to Hubspot:

  • 81% trust their friends and family’s advice over advice from a business
  • 55% no longer trust the companies they buy from as much as they used to
  • 65% do not trust company press releases
  • 69% do not trust advertisements
  • 71% do not trust sponsored ads on social networks

The bottom line is that your customers are your best growth opportunity. In the world we live in, customers need you less and less. They learn from their friends and family. They don’t trust marketers—they trust other customers. A lot of the time they’d rather self-serve than call.

Once you’ve served a customer, they will either be happy/satisfied, or they will be unhappy. A few things are true when it comes to your business’s ability to control and impact your customers’ experience:

  • Your customers need to be able to access information about your products and services—no one can teach them better than you.
  • You have the data (or can ask for the data) that points to what makes your customers satisfied— use it to your advantage.
  • Your business has the most to lose from a bad customer experience.
  • Investing in customer service leads to new revenue streams (see Hubspot Research diagram below).

So, what do you do now? Start telling your story. Better yet, let your very happy customers start telling it for you. Start asking your customers for feedback (not one and done, but over time). If you are already doing those things, continually refine your process and insights collected from the data. Identify holes in your customer experience. Turn your very happy customers into brand advocates. A few other things:

Communicate Core Services and Humanize Your Brand 

Now more than ever, it is vital for people to know what your company does. Never assume that even your own, loyal customers or referral sources know everything that you can provide to them, their families, their friends, and even strangers they may randomly start up a conversation with. This is especially true with changes that were made in the last year, such as curbside pickup, remote setups, etc. Update all marketing collateral and have at least a quarterly review plan (more frequently for web content) to ensure all information is current. There are many digital asset tools available that assist with version control for sales teams. Invest in one!

Last fall, a great HME leader said to the industry, “don’t let this be forgotten!” It is time to tell your brand’s story in 2021. Let your patients and customers know what your people did in 2020 and continue to do in 2021. Tell your story via patient stories and/or videos (these can be low cost these days). Also, review your value proposition and brand positioning to ensure it aligns with where you are going. What does your brand stand for? Let your patients know! Eighty-nine percent of consumers say that they will remain loyal to a brand if it shares similar values with them. (Source: Fundera)

Get Intentional With Customer/Patient Experience 

A useful exercise for your team might be to whiteboard everything that is different for your patients since last year. How has the experience changed? Noting the differences and improvements will help the team develop marketing messaging that communicates the value of these changes from the patient’s perspective.

Have you been to the dentist or to your general physician lately? There are many changes in the experience, from more text alerts and appointment reminders, to communication about COVID-19 precautions and updated hours, even virtual visits when possible. The concept of a waiting room is much different with a virtual visit! Logging in and only waiting a few minutes versus driving to the doctor’s physical office and waiting 20+ minutes is quite a different experience. However, who is talking to you about these changes? Have your providers’ offices been proactive with communicating the benefits of change, or did you find out simply by experiencing the change for yourself? It is interesting to pay attention.

The Accenture 2020 Digital Health Survey found that post-COVID-19, providers need to continue to enable technology and digital health. How can you utilize technology, while patients are still somewhat being forced to adapt, to maintain momentum, and enhance the patient experience? This is an area worth looking at from an investment standpoint. Remote monitoring capabilities, online chat, patient portals, patient apps, texting apps, artificial intelligence (AI), marketing automation, and technology to simplify workflow and patient communications for your staff are some examples if your company isn’t already investing in one or more of these technologies.

Ensure Strong Internet Presence and Reputation

Simply having a website used to be enough. That is not the case anymore, as discussed earlier about your digital destiny. Your website needs to be user-friendly, mobile-friendly, accessible, optimized for search, updated very regularly, and state what your company does as crystal clear as you possibly can. Your website is your storefront. It is your story. It is what your patients and customers will visit and either decide to stay or go within fractions of a second.

Your website can host information about what to expect in the patient experience and offer resources they can’t get anywhere else (or must search forever to find). It also needs to have continually updated, correct information, such as hours, services, products, shipping or pickup information, and any necessary forms or documents. Is your company offering appropriate and convenient products to purchase online? Offering even a slimmed down e-commerce part of your website will help you demonstrate what you have available to potential customers or show existing patients that you carry those additional items that they may already be buying online.

If you do not already utilize free tools from Google My Business, now is the time to start. From an investment perspective, virtual health services, AI tools such as chat bots, and online customer experience tools like reviews can all work to give your company a robust internet presence. These investments will also help your company stand out from the competition and rank higher on Google Maps and search engine results pages. Does your current website get the job done? Ask your best patients/customers!

Reputation is gold, especially now. Having an easy review process in place is a great way to highlight experiences and help address things that might need addressing within the company. Also, a closed feedback loop to talk to customers who have either had an amazing or not so amazing experience will go a long way. Fifty-seven percent of consumers say they would cease being loyal to a brand if their negative review goes unaddressed. (Source: Fundera) The data collected can be used to improve your company in so many ways.

If you don’t have time or personnel to help monitor your business reputation online, VGM Forbin’s Reputation Plus+ service automates monitoring of online reviews and helps build up positive reviews on top sites like Google and Facebook. 

How Does Reputation Plus+ Work?

With Reputation Plus+, you can encourage customers to share their positive reviews on online platforms like Google and Facebook to improve your business’s online reputation. VGM Forbin’s Reputation Plus+ service automates monitoring of online reviews, improves online presence, and helps you always stay connected with your customers.

The prescription for success: take control of your digital destiny. Ask your customers for feedback. Capitalize on the data received from that feedback. Discover new revenue streams. Repeat.

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