Managing Customer Feedback to Grow Your Small Business

Whether you sell a line of products or provide a service, as a small business owner, you are passionate about what you create and share with the world. 

Consider this – 93% of customers will read an online review before making a purchase, and 94% of consumers say a bad review has convinced them to avoid a business.  

In order for your business to grow and thrive in today’s world where consumers don’t trust advertising but rely on word-of-mouth and online reviews, managing customer feedback is critical.

Fear not, we’re sharing some savvy strategies for handling that input gracefully, so you can keep the positive vibes flowing and your customers happy.

First step – gather customer feedback 

Surprisingly, the biggest challenge with customer feedback is the lack of it. 

It’s true. People research a business before they choose to visit or buy their products. If there are no reviews, they will move right along. No feedback is almost as bad as negative feedback.

To engage with your customers, you need to make it easy for them to provide feedback. Here are five ways to do that. 

Email/SMS surveys 

Email or SMS messages are great ways to reach a wide customer audience to request feedback. 

They are also relatively low lifts. Technology is your friend when it comes to gathering customer feedback through these channels. Using GenAI tools like ChatGPT, you can quickly create multiple customer surveys for different milestones or actions (i.e., after their first purchase, when they try a new product, or if they haven’t purchased or visited in a while). 

Then, using a marketing automation tool, you can email that survey to your customer list automatically. Automation means one less thing you have to remember.  

Some automation tools can even populate customer comments on your website and add the feedback to your star rating. 

Online surveys 

If your customers are already on your website or your social media channels, ask them to leave feedback while they are there. 

Technology can also save time when using online surveys. Use pop-ups or chatbots to automatically request feedback when a customer visits your website and after they make a purchase. Customers are more likely to leave feedback in the moment. 

In-store feedback forms 

We aren’t talking about paper customer feedback forms, although if you think your customers would go for completing a paper form—then do it!  

We suggest creating an online survey that links to a QR code. Put that code on everything from a sign next to your register to your receipts. When they are checking out, encourage them to scan the code and leave feedback. 

Review generator link

A review generator link is a short URL that takes people directly to your company’s online business profile on Google, where they can quickly leave a review. Create that link and then put it on everything—your website, social media pages, customer emails, receipts, etc. With one click, customers can easily leave a review. 

Social media

Your customers are already scrolling through social media. Leverage those channels and run simple polls to gather feedback. 

If you find that you are getting poor quality customer feedback, revise your survey questions to get better responses. If customers aren’t completing any of your surveys, offer incentives like product/service discounts.

Shot of a young woman accepting a credit card payment while serving a customer in a cafe

Responding to customer feedback

Once you gather feedback, you then have to act on it. Responding to any feedback is a critical element in the customer feedback loop. Customers expect to be heard—and quickly. 

Not addressing feedback may cause frustration for the reviewer, which could lead them to share unfavorable reviews of your business within their network.

To stay on top of customer feedback, develop a process and ensure your team is aware of it. That process includes monitoring for feedback and reviews and responding to both the good and bad appropriately and in a timely manner. 

Monitoring online customer reviews 

Review websites like Google and Yelp offer automated tools to notify you when a review is left, which makes monitoring easy. They also offer automated response tools. You could set up the automation to send an immediate thank you note for leaving a review, then follow up within your established response time with a more personalized response. 

Responding to online customer reviews

Your process should clearly establish an acceptable response time, keeping in mind that customers today expect quick responses. A good rule of thumb is to respond within three business days. 

Responding to customer feedback can quickly turn into a full-time job. Avoid that by building a database of standard responses. Your team can then pull from those responses and make a few tweaks to customize them, saving hours of time in drafting new responses.

Your responses should show gratitude for customers that left positive reviews, personalizing the message by repeating some of the points they raised. This shows them that you are listening and that they are appreciated. 

Less favorable reviews should be approached with a cool head. It’s important to respond with sincerity and empathy, offering genuine apologies where needed.

Handling negative reviews gracefully 

The unfortunate truth is that people are more likely to leave a negative review instead of a positive one.

You must respond to negative reviews to improve your online reputation. Responding publicly with empathy shows everyone reading the review that you listen to your customers. 

It’s hard, but keeping a cool head and avoiding getting defensive in your response is critical. Offer your apologies and a reasonable solution, such as compensation or an offer to replace the product. Once a resolution is determined, follow-up to make sure they walk away from the experience satisfied. 

If they are, they may come back. You’ve kept a customer, which will never happen if you don’t respond or respond in a negative way.  

One way to stay cool with your response is to get what you really want to say off your chest by writing your no holds barred response, but not sending it. Then draft the appropriate and empathetic response you will really send the customer. Just don’t mix those two up.  

Addressing business issues

Gathering customer feedback can expose pain points in the customer journey that need to be fixed. Listen to what your customers are saying. Track the topics that keep coming up in negative reviews or feedback. Over time, you may see patterns that expose areas of your business that could use improvements. 

Invest in addressing those issues and then let the customers know you have taken steps to fix the problems. Investing in resolving these issues will improve customer satisfaction, reduce the number of negative reviews, and win back customers. 

Building a customer-centric culture

Your team is an extension of you and on the front lines of your business. They are often the people who your customer interacts with first. 

Build a culture in your company that respects and values good customer service. Train your team on customer service best practices. Let them know your expectations for delivering good service. 

Building a customer-centric culture includes creating an environment where your team feels energized and inspired to give their best. This starts with treating them with respect, honoring their flexible scheduling and time off requests, ensuring they are paid on time, and openly communicating with them.

The free Homebase mobile app can help you build trust with your team and communicate with them transparently about any upcoming issues.

You can also run surveys in the app to keep track of how your team is feeling. Just like you would act on customer feedback, gathering employee feedback can help you identify their pain points in delivering good customer service. 

Harness the power of customer feedback 

Engaging with your customers and team and responding to their feedback is key to achieving your small business growth goals. Develop your feedback loop, create the right processes, respond with empathy, and fix any issues that are causing friction. 

Your reputation will blossom, and more customers will seek you out. 

And that’s good for business. 


How often should I respond to customer feedback?

Customer feedback and online reviews should be monitored daily. Feedback and responses should be delivered within three business days. Don’t worry – those tasks can be automated.

How can I encourage more customers to leave online reviews?

By making it simple. Add online surveys where your customers are – on social media and online. Remind them to complete the surveys at all interactions with them.

What's the best way to handle an angry customer?

With empathy. You have no idea what the person is really going through. Show empathy and understanding. Try to resolve the issue offline.

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