No matter how stellar your product or service may be, if you aren’t listening to your customers, you’re at risk of losing them.

Why is customer feedback so important? All it takes is one bad experience to send shoppers away for good. And that extends to potential shoppers because those disgruntled customers can quickly spread their unfavorable comments far and wide on social media.

So how can you harness the power of customer feedback?

1. Embrace Feedback—Positive and Negative

Bad reviews aren’t fun, but they’re a fact of business. And they can be very useful; they can help you identify problems in your company structure, and they provide a platform to directly and publicly acknowledge those problems and work toward solutions. Once you reach out to disgruntled customers, the vast majority will give you a chance to make it right.

It is very satisfying to work with happy customers, but it is just as important to proactively engage with the unhappy ones. And negative feedback makes their pain points very clear. Be open and transparent, and be prepared to listen and learn what went wrong. A connected POS can put a dissatisfied customer’s transaction history at your fingertips so you can have a more informed and productive conversation.

2. Analyze Customer Data

Data is the key to understanding your customers’ needs and wants. You need a comprehensive understanding of what the data is telling you in the moment. A month or even a week later, you may have lost one or more customers. There are many tools that can help you take control of this information, but a smart POS solution is a must-have in order to analyze what shoppers actually buy.

These purchase patterns show what your audience wants and when they feel the urge to get it. They also show when customers abandon their shopping carts, which gives you the opportunity to find out what happened (and to win them back). Additionally, customer data allows you to customize offers based on personal milestones such as birthdays or anniversaries.

3. Listen and Respond on Social Media

The immediacy of social media presents an opportunity for far more direct customer feedback than ever before. In earlier generations, shoppers would rarely if ever complain to a business directly. Instead, they would grumble to friends and family, leaving the company to carry on unaware of its poor performance.

Audiences react to both good and bad service, and your company must be ready to respond, no matter where the conversation leads. This is not only morally right, but it also makes good business sense. Almost half of potential customers say they would be more willing to try your product or service if you respond quickly and address problems in the moment.

4. Involve Customers Early

The best way to make a product that appeals to your customers is to ask them what they want before you produce it. Send out surveys that get into the details, including design, color, size. You’ll be surprised how much people want to have a hand in creating their favorite products.

Keep them informed on your progress, and invite them to celebrate when the product launches!

5. Ask Customers for Direct Feedback

These are just some of the many ways to harness customer feedback:

  • Ask customers to answer surveys, both online and in-person.
  • Listen on social. Monitor your feeds for comments and respond quickly.
  • Get to know your Net Promoter Score (NPS) data—a metric that shows how likely shoppers are to recommend your company to friends and family.

Another great way to learn how customers feel about you is to give them a public forum where they can talk to each other and share ideas on how to improve your products. It can even be a money-maker—customers spend up to 19 percent more at a business if it hosts an online community forum.

Peer reviews are another way to harness the power of the customer’s voice. A full 88 percent of consumers rely on these reviews when making a purchase. An authentic customer story beats crafty marketing copy any day, so use those stories in your messaging whenever possible.

Be the Company They Need You to Be

With customer feedback, you can react quickly to your audience’s evolving needs and create a shopping experience that appeals to them. Every online review and in-store interaction helps paint a larger picture of the kind of company your patrons want you to be.

Your payment solution should be an integral part of this process. With a platform like Poynt HQ, you can run your business from your office, home, or a canoe in the South Pacific, allowing you to respond to customer feedback in real time.