Four creative ways to get customer feedback

A report out last week said businesses are increasingly using Twitter as a forum for feedback after customers began to air their grievances when all other lines of communication had run out.

We like this creative way to elicit customer feedback - and, just for you, we have four more:

1.    Freebies

With freesheets dropping like flies and Rupert Murdoch threatening to place a big fat paywall between us and the news, you could be forgiven for thinking the era of free is well and truly over - which means your customers will be doubly delighted when you promise them freebies in return for feedback. If you can offer discounts or vouchers, do - but if all you can afford is a cheeky chocolate bar, your customers will still be grateful.

2.    Facebook

With all the hype surrounding Twitter, some businesses have forgotten about Facebook as a powerful social tool. Although Facebook is less immediate in terms of response time - people tend to give more time to writing Facebook messages than 140-character tweets, particularly if it's on a public wall - the lack of character limit allows you to be more detailed with your replies. As long as you ensure your responses are as quick as possible, keeping them public will give other clients the chance to see how great your customer service is. A word of caution, though: watch out for those who are just out to get you. Some people are never satisfied.

3.    Blog

Having a blog is great for SEO because it keeps your website active and helps you to build links - but the commenting option gives your customers a place to provide feedback. If you're unsure about a new product or service you're offering, blog about it, and see how your customers react.

4.    Host feedback parties

Not hearing enough from your customers? Invite them to a party, and see what they say.

Lots of businesses host informal get-togethers for their best customers - but if you extend the invitation to all your customers, ply them with free booze, then get talking, you may discover some interesting facts.

If that's a bit less, err, formal, than you like, have an open day or even invite customers to discuss their grievances with you directly. Encourage them to start the dialogue by making sure your business' address and phone number are easy to find on your website.

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