Build a Website: Getting Feedback
Until now, the primary form of communication between businesses and their customers was through advertising and marketing materials. This doesn't offer much opportunity for interaction or feedback. The World Wide Web changed all that, effectively opening the door to ongoing, two-way communication. With the type of fast-paced interaction made possible via the Web, people rightfully expect to be able to engage in immediate "conversation" with a company, especially about its products and services.Talk to Me
Ongoing interaction with customers and potential customers helps improve your product and the way you communicate product benefits, gather customer endorsements, and provide customer service. Many organizations are surprised by the volume and frequency of feedback they receive from customers.
Although this poses challenges for many companies, it also offers an unprecedented opportunity to collect important consumer information, as well as immediate feedback regarding products and marketing efforts. If you are prepared to collect and analyze the information (and you should be), you can have the equivalent of an ongoing focus group at your fingertips. Not only are these people already interested in your company (after all, they found their way to your website), but they also will tell you directly what they think, via e-mail and feedback forms and comments. Indirectly, you can glean a lot from their digital trail through the pages of your site.E-mail
E-mail is an easy way to get feedback from visitors. A simple "mail-to" link automatically opens an e-mail box with the reader's address and yours already filled in. You can also create a more complex e-mail form if you want to collect additional information as part of the feedback process.
E-mail is not a one-way street, however. You must be willing to respond if you want to maintain a relationship with your customers or potential customers. They will not be happy with an answer that arrives a week later. If they have taken the time to visit your site and offer feedback, they expect you to do the same.
One way to manage the influx of new e-mail is to create separate links for different departments (e.g., sales, service, and administration) so that e-mail automatically goes to the people who can answer it promptly. Whenever possible, set up automatic response forms, known as autoresponders. When readers send messages they get an immediate confirmation that it was received and a staff member will answer as soon as possible.Forms
Forms allow you to gather user feedback in a more organized and targeted way than with e-mail. You can use forms to conduct mini-surveys or extensive ones. If you opt for the latter, be sure to offer the reader something in return.
If you take a survey of your visitors, post the results. People like to feel that their opinions count, and they like to see where they fit into the mix.
Last update: Jan 14, 2010