Customer Feedback Underpins Business Success

sales & marketing Dec 11, 2017

Emma Pearce – MD and Marketing Consultant – Pearce Marketing

A business that uses marketing properly is customer focused, which means:

  • knowing who your customers are
  • researching their needs and preferences (what they want and value)
  • communicating how these needs are better met by the benefits of your products and services, compared to your competitors, so that they are motivated to buy from you.

Right now we are going to focus on the second point above – customer research. It really is an invaluable step for business and marketing planning.


When did you last ask your customers/prospects for feedback?

Have you ever undertaken any focus groups, or individual face-to-face or telephone interviews, online surveys or similar?

Many businesses don’t have an ongoing plan to ask customers and prospects for feedback. They never get any insights direct from the horse’s mouth. Of course, you may have many years of experience in your industry, but there is no substitute for up-to-date customer feedback. If it is skipped, potentially risky assumptions are made.

The most common reasons businesses don’t gather feedback

  1. Time
  2. Not sure what to ask or who the best person is to ask the questions
  3. Fear of negative feedback
  4. Procrastination over what method to use to gather feedback
  5. Don’t believe customers will give honest feedback if they feel awkward giving responses to people they may regularly see and speak to at your business

The ideal feedback solution

Speaking directly with customers and prospects via individual interviews (in person or on the phone) yields the best results. Focus groups can work well too. The conversational style enables you to delve deeper into certain chance, but key, comments.

If you don’t have someone skilled, willing or independent enough to undertake research internally, you can ask a third party to have those conversations for you. The more relaxed your customers and prospects are, the more truthful their feedback will be. This route also gives you the opportunity to aggregate feedback so that it is anonymous if necessary.

Remember to choose a good cross-section of clients and prospects for your research:

  • Delighted fans of your business
  • Those you know are/have been disappointed in some way – so have mixed feelings about your products/services
  • Those you lost at a bid/proposal stage

What insights will you gain from prospect and customer feedback?

You can expect to gain valuable insights that will help you with:

  • business strategy
  • a range of business improvements (“front and back office”)
  • marketing planning
  • developing sales messages.

Some staff may be highly praised and they will be delighted to hear about it.

You may be surprised to discover what customers really value from you most, or wish you would do differently, even from a relatively small sample.

By asking the right questions you can learn so much from prospects and customers, including:

  • How they found out about you
  • Who else they approached and why
  • Why they choose you
  • What they value most
  • How they view your strengths and weaknesses (and little annoyances that can be quickly fixed)
  • How they would score you out of 10 (and what you could do to make it up to a 10 if you are not there yet)
  • Stats and facts about the benefits they have gained from working with you
  • If there are additional products/services they would like from you
  • What’s special about you – your USP(s)
  • What events they attend, trade magazines they read, social platforms they use
  • How they think you could effectively promote your business

(We have also facilitated separate focus groups with a business’ clients and staff, purely to establish their views on design options for a new brand identity.)


The icing on the cake

On top of all this incredibly useful information, you can also gain new testimonials. The interviewer can ask if the person is happy to recommend your business and volunteer to write a testimonial for them to approve. It works – and you can use these on your website, social posts and marketing materials. Don’t forget to ask them to add it to your LinkedIn profile, Google+ or other customer review site relevant to your industry. You may even identify a fantastic case study you could produce and go on to record a video testimonial.

We have never failed to reveal useful information from the feedback research we undertake for clients. By taking a conversational approach to covering the various questions, the majority of people will love talking about their opinions and their business. Even where a bid has been lost, people will respect you for asking questions in order to improve.

With all this direct feedback you are now in a great position to review your business plan and crack on with developing a powerful business marketing action plan!


If you would like to chat with us about customer and prospect research in any form, we’d love to talk – please contact me on 01323 769130, email [email protected] or visit

Emma Pearce – MD and Marketing Consultant – Pearce Marketing

Pearce Marketing provides a flexible marketing consultancy service, outsourced marketing and social media training.  

As well as customer/prospect research and marketing planning, the outsourced marketing service covers a range of traditional and digital marketing activities (from email marketing and exhibition preparation to search engine optimisation (SEO), social media, website development and more).

Emma Pearce set up Pearce Marketing Consultants in Eastbourne in 2008 to offer a flexible outsourced marketing service to start-ups and established small to medium sized businesses in all sectors. There are no fixed term contracts and retainers – just an hourly rate.

“We always focus on understanding your customers and delivering cost-effective, laser-targeted and measurable marketing activities – whether you need just an hour or two of help or regular support.”

Emma is an experienced marketer and a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM). She has worked in commercial marketing positions since 1994, including jobs with global firms, as well as regional companies. Her career has taken her to London, overseas and back to her home county of Sussex.  

Contact Emma on 01323 769130, [email protected] or visit


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