As a customer feedback focused start-up, we thought we already knew exactly what our customers wanted from the start. In reality it has been a learning process for us as we have evolved as a company and a product. Here are some of the useful lessons we have learnt along the way.
If you want to be able to treat customer feedback as an ongoing dialogue, you are going to need some kind of ‘content’ to engage your audience with. The more communication channels you can develop, the more feedback you will receive.
Tips for extra feedback:
Search for Critics (early!):
This is a mindset and a way of incorporating feedback.
In a start-up you need to be challenged, especially as a founder or co-founder. You also need to be ready to take on criticism as early and as often as possible. Most of your initial feedback will be from friends and family. They will be supportive and encouraging, however they will not critique your business plan, which is the challenge you need at that stage.
Once your start-up is moving you need to continue the search for valuable criticism. Consider this Bill Gates quote, which is our mantra here at Twistar:
“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
One should take one good critic over a hundred compliments! In fact our research at Twistar shows that for every one complaint that a business receives, 400+ people will hear about negative experiences originating from that business; so technically you should take one critic over 417 compliments!
Get Out and Pitch Everywhere (Events, Investors, Competitions, etc.):
Pitching is a necessary part of start-up life and the sooner you start the better. It is great practice and you will learn a lot about yourself, your product and your presentation.
The feedback you will receive from pitch events will be public, honest and accurate. Judging panels will explain their decisions and it will help you to understand the differing priorities, challenges, opinions and perspectives.
Listen to your Online Presence:
Your customers, clients, partners, competitors, users, etc. are giving you feedback and information constantly, and you need to engage.
Firstly, make sure your Google Analytics is singing. Understanding your audience will allow you to refine your business proposition and marketing strategy to make sure it is aligned with your goals. For example: if you’ve noticed that a lot of visitors to your website are repeatedly clicking on a particular section ahead of other banners or topics, you should move this section higher on your site, pitch, marketing material, and also in your future product development as it’s clearly what your audience is interested in.
Social media is great for start-ups. It allows you to identify and engage with your chosen audience via the channel that is most appropriate for your business. Creating and publishing content will start a dialogue, and there are more advanced tools you can enable to...
Talk less and listen more:
This is one of the most common issues for start-ups and is something we all need to do.
When you live and breathe the entrepreneur journey, it can feel like you spend all of your time pitching, and it is very easy to develop a defensive mindset and to stop listening. The simple fact is that you need to be open to different ideas and opinions, as not everyone will always agree with you.
Life is not always logical:
Here at #TeamTwistar we are big believers in customer feedback - it’s our bread and butter. We strongly believe that customer centric, data driven businesses will outperform businesses who ignore their customers and work on assumption and routine.
If you want to make the kind of disruptive change that is associated with the start-up economy, then you are going to need to be different.
Henry Ford, creator of the Model-T and founder of Ford Motors, explained this perfectly: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
This quote is frequently referenced in discussions on ‘innovation versus customer feedback’; and is normally followed by the second most famous Henry Ford quote that the Model-T Ford was available in: “Any colour…… as long as its black!”
Now, I am not arguing with the genius of the man. While he wasn’t not the first man to invent the automobile, he was the man who made the automobile available to an entire continent, at a price point they could afford.
This was a man who not only embraced customer feedback and market research, but someone who was driven by it!