Catering and event professionals can learn about their businesses from many avenues: website analytics, sales numbers, and other quantifiable metrics offer a goldmine for evaluation purposes. Yet, data only tells one side of the story. Qualitative feedback from customers offers invaluable insight into your client journey and clues you in to how you can improve your workflows for optimal service.
Applying client feedback to your business processes requires time and intention, so consider it an investment toward a successful future filled with happy customers (and enthusiastic referrals!).
Here are a few simple steps to collect better feedback and use it to enhance your business from top to bottom.
Make it easy and approachable.
The average consumer is likelier to leave a review when they are unsatisfied with a product or service than when they are pleased. When something doesn’t measure up to expectations, they want to feel heard and make it known to others who are interested. For some businesses, this could mean racking up only the most negative feedback and missing out on the positive reviews—even when there are plenty of happy customers.
To capture the full spectrum of client feedback, it’s vital to make your review process simple and straightforward. Most event clients are quick to move on after the big day, so build a testimonial form into your offboarding workflow. It could be as simple as directing them to your listing on The Knot, WeddingWire, Google MyBusiness, or Yelp.
If you want to dig deeper into your clients’ feedback, create a custom form with questions targeting certain elements of the customer experience. For instance, you may ask about what could have been done differently, or you may want to gauge how well your communication process works. Were they satisfied with your collaborative software? Did they find your list of referrals helpful? You can learn so much from clients by asking the right questions.
Reflect on the feedback you receive.
When you start seeing suggestions and ideas to improve your business, it’s natural to want to implement them right away. But remember: Your customers aren’t privy to the inner workings of your business. For example, they may not know how much it costs to host a complimentary tasting, so their disappointment that they couldn’t bring their eight closest friends may be a baseless concern.
On the other hand, you may discover prevalent issues to address before it’s too late. For instance, a slow response time or confusing onboarding process signals areas in your business that need help. Keep an eye out for the feedback (good and bad!) that continues to arise so you can adjust and evolve accordingly.
Approach implementation with patience.
Changing how you and your team work within your business takes time, so don’t rush to revamp your workflows overnight. Instead, work closely with your team to adjust over time for maximum results. Create a list of recommendations based on client feedback and organize a meeting to discuss a game plan. Listen to employee feedback as well, as you may find areas that overlap and are best addressed first.
A good rule of thumb is to focus first on changes that are easy to implement and will positively impact your business going forward. It may be updating auto-responder emails to include answers to FAQs or upgrading your CRM to provide a more personalized customer experience. Start with the simple-but-meaningful steps, and gradually move on to the rest of the ideas on your list.
With more extensive changes, practice incremental growth. Overhauling your sales process is a significant endeavor, but breaking it down into smaller action steps (like writing a sales script, finding a sales trainer, or investing in a new lead management system) will help your team remain focused and motivated.
While nobody likes criticism, consider negative feedback as a window to better processes and workflows that support your team and your customers’ satisfaction. There’s no way to improve without knowing your weaknesses, so keep an eye out for your reviews and remember that growth is a marathon, not a sprint!