A carefully planned and well-written comment card is a great tool to allow customers to express their opinions and provide valuable feedback on the customer experience in your store. This form of store evaluation not only helps measure customer satisfaction but also shows the retailer what areas of your store may need help. Also, it creates engagement with customers by letting them know you're listening to their opinions and their insights about your business. It always gives you a tool to use with your employees since it is the customer's voice and not yours.
Collect Testimonials and Offer Incentives
The customer comment card is a great way to collect testimonials. You may want to use those in marketing and advertising materials, if possible. Nothing is better for your business than word of mouth advertising.
Since you're asking the customer for something, try to offer an incentive beyond just your appreciation for them to fill out the cards. It doesn't have to be anything elaborate, perhaps a small discount on a future purchase, or a free item. Just let the customer know that you recognize their time and input are both valuable.
Comment Cards and Complaints
But the flip side of the coin is also true: Comment cards can be a way to receive complaints. Obviously, no one likes to hear something negative about their business, but if you as the retail business owner use the complaints to improve, they have as much value as the compliments.
Disgruntled customers generally need an outlet to express their dissatisfaction. A conveniently placed customer comment card could prevent the unhappy customer from complaining to a third-party, or worse, taking to social media to air their grievances. With comment card information in hand, a retailer can take steps to resolve the issue that led to the complaint. This is a difficult but important way to engage with customers; most appreciate a sincere effort to improve and are likely to return to a store where they've had a good outcome for their complaint.
How to Make Comment Cards
This is an area of your business where you don't want to skimp. Use a professional printer to print the comment cards, and make sure they're simple and easy to understand. Make sure you add the option for customers to mail in their cards; sometimes if there's been a problem, they may feel uncomfortable with an in-store confrontation.
Where to Put Comment Cards
What you put on the comment cards is as important as making them readily available to customers. Ask questions about things you are willing to change, and follow through on those changes. Be sure to get permission from customers if you want to contact them for follow-up, or use their insights in any future marketing materials.
Keep a stack of customer comment cards near your cash registers. Remember, in-store comment cards are only one method for soliciting feedback. Use an online version of the customer comment card on the store's website. If you have developed a mailing list, you may want to consider sending the cards to select customers, especially those who have been loyal to your store for a long time. You may be surprised to know what people think about your shop, but don't let any negative feedback bring you down. It's important to have constructive criticism so you can improve what isn't working.
Are Comment Cards the Best Idea Today?
Of course, the question we should be asking ourselves is "Are comment cards even relevant today?" After all, with the advent of social media, do people still want to fill out a card? I think this is the right question to be asking. First, never throw out the old completely for the new. Many of your customers prefer the "old school" way of doing things, and they desire and value comment cards. Second, when people handwrite a card, they feel it is taken more seriously than an online survey. Online surveys or surveys through social media may be more expedient, but people still don't trust the digital world. They prefer cards.
Remember, it is all about the customer experience. Know your customers and know what they prefer or desire. In my stores, we made both printed and digital options available to our customers. We felt it showed that we valued them enough to give them options. And the more options we provided, the more feedback we got.
Comment Cards and Employees
The most important thing you can do with a comment card is sharing it with your employees. They need the feedback as well - especially if it is praise. Take the time to share in person with your employees and not just tack it on the bulletin board. It shows you value customer experience. Plus, go the extra mile and weave customer experience into the fabric of your culture by making it part of your compensation. Tie employee compensation to the comment cards, and you will see the employees pay as much attention to them as you do.