Building a Successful Business on a Foundation of Feedback Customer feedback, whether glowing or critical, can be a boon for your business. This week, Yelp's Small Business Expert Emily Washcovick is joined by Alok Ahuja, CEO and founder of Trexity, to talk about how he started his business and found success by focusing on one very simple thing: constructive feedback.
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Alok Ahuja started Trexity, a last mile, local delivery platform, after realizing there was a specific need for a software platform that offers efficient, same-day delivery from small businesses to the doorsteps of customers. This realization came when Alok was juggling the multiple responsibilities that came with being a stay-at-home dad and caring for his ill father, making it impossible for him to step away from home.
This gap in the market propelled Alok to change the local delivery game. Back in 2019 when Trexity was first created, he sought out the advice of Uber drivers in order to better understand the industry he was breaking into.
"I went to those driver's cars, and I knocked on their windows one by one, and I asked them, 'Why do you do this? What do you love about it? What do you hate about it? What would you do if you were in charge?'" Alok said. "I started to get a tremendous amount of feedback from these drivers... Now, the crazy thing is, those drivers in 2019 are still my same focus group drivers. They're still working with Trexity, so I love them. But from day one of deciding to build this out, I only made my decisions based on the feedback I got from the couriers that were already doing it."
In addition to seeking feedback from those in the business, Alok highlights how crucial it is to dive deep into the needs and wants of your customer base—and the best way to do that is to listen to them.
"For me, feedback and focus groups are a part of every decision we make as a company. And it's so important to stay in touch with making sure you're actually solving a problem that needs to be solved."
Although his business is built on feedback, Alok knows that the number of reviews a company receives can be overwhelming. While it might seem impossible to sift through the commentary, Alok's personal tip is to allocate a small part of your week to read through what your customers are saying.
The key is to remember that reviews are written by real humans who typically want to help your business improve. While critical feedback can sting, reviews that are three stars or fewer are the ones Alok pays particular attention to when looking for ways to improve his business.
"Go to the darkest places of your feedback [from] actual shoppers that have constructive feedback on something that you can do to improve. If they truly care about your business or the value of goods that they're getting, they'll give you real feedback," he said. "It's not hard to get nowadays. So my advice is to those business owners, don't be overwhelmed by the amount of feedback you get, but try to home in on the ones where you know you can improve as a business."
Reading through reviews is only half of the battle. The next step is deciding how to incorporate feedback. Alok's advice? Never make knee jerk reactions. Instead, take ample time to think about what is being said so you're never making decisions based on a temporary emotion. Second, don't try to get a genuine, critical review removed—that's the equivalent of silencing your customer.
Creating a dialogue with reviewers humanizes your business and gives you an opportunity to provide great customer service. Not every reviewer will give you a second chance, but other potential customers will see how you responded or tried to resolve any issues. You might even find some reviewers are open to talking about their experience and just need you to listen.
For example, Alok shared that a customer might say: "'Listen, thanks for reaching out. I appreciate you guys trying to solve this problem, but I'm still upset.' And that is an opportunity for you to go offline and show the humility you have as a company for the issue they went through because of something you couldn't deliver on or something you couldn't provide them with."
More lessons Alok has learned that other entrepreneurs can apply to their businesses include:
- Don't take your company so seriously that you can't enjoy yourself. Never forget the real reason you started—to fulfill people's needs while being able to do what you love and are passionate about.
- As the owner of a business, show humility and grace. Talking to your customers yourself can help you understand them on a deeper level and help you build brand loyalty.
- Set boundaries. Your business is important, but so is work-life balance. Avoid burnout by taking time away from work and delegating important tasks to your team.
Listen to the episode below to hear directly from Alok, and subscribe to Behind the Review for more from new business owners and reviewers every Thursday.