Our customers are never going to run out of options. The level of specialization for any product or service offering available in today’s marketplace makes it essential to stay on top of our customers’ needs.  Because the simple truth is, if we cannot provide them with exactly what they need, someone else can and will.

So what are you doing to earn and retain your customers’ business?  And how can you be sure that what you’re doing will keep you top of mind? 

The answer itself is relatively simple – you need to ask.  You need to know why they choose you, what makes your product or service the right fit for them and how you can modify your offering to continue to meet their evolving needs.  You won't know if you are improving customer/donor engagement unless you have some sort of starting point to measure against.

However, in most instances it’s not realistic to conduct an exit interview every time you complete a transaction with one of your customers.  So what are other tactics you can employ to stay plugged with your customers and clients?

1)    Pay attention.  There is a lot to learn by watching and analyzing what your customers (and competitors’ customers) are buying.  You don’t need them to complete your user survey if they are exhibiting predicable tendencies.

2)    Encourage, and even incentivize participation in your Social Media channels.  Let your customers know that their voice will always be heard.  And be sure to respond publically (to the good and bad feedback) whenever it is practical.  While the goal should always be perfection, in the instances we fall short customers respect when we acknowledge and work to quickly correct our shortcomings.

3)    Automate methodologies for measuring customer interactions.  If you can understand the type of content they frequent on your website, or how long they spend in your store, you can tailor future interactions to meet their needs.  And the more you can automate this process, the less taxing it will be on you and your staff.

4)    Create opportunities for fun exchanges between you and your customers.  Consider developing promotional games that encourage trackable interactions.  Every data point you can gather helps paint a picture of your audience.

By now, the takeaway should be clear – you need to create multiple opportunities to tactfully gather as much feedback as possible.  Our customers want to know we are paying attention, so it is essential we create options to allow their voices to be heard.