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The 3 Ways You Can be Certain Your Customers Feel Appreciated They may not always be right, but you must listen. Not much to ask, really, and it doesn't cost a penny.

By Greg Hong Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Gil C / Shutterstock.com

To help your business grow, you should always start with a simple question: "How can I get better?" Customer feedback is incredibly important: It will help you understand and answer that question because of powerful insights your customers have about you and your competitors. Feedback provides a window into the experience you're really delivering and uncovers valuable details about your business from a perspective you may not see -- the perspective that is most important. Whether it is a comment card, online survey, follow up email, phone call or just a simple inquiry "How am I doing," gathering evaluations is a great first step. But it can't stop there. In order to show customers you truly appreciate them, you must take that feedback seriously, show them you hear them and act on it. Taking the time to prove to your customers that their assessments are taken seriously makes them feel more appreciated, and in turn, more likely to become happy customers and refer you new business.

So how can you show your customers that you care? Here are three ways to make your customers feel heard.

1. Make it personal.

In Setting the Table, restaurateur Danny Meyer, who is known for personally responding to customer feedback in his early days, said, "The customer is not always right. But they must always feel heard." One way to keep customers happy is to respond to their complaints, critiques and praise with personal, unique replies. It's easy to detect a canned response from one that actually addresses the customer's unique situation and concerns, so make sure each response is personalized.

To make a customer feel heard, talk to them the way you would to someone in person, not the way you would in a press release. Address them by name and make sure they know who you are and who they're talking to -- nothing is more impersonal than a faceless business. One company that excels at this is American Express, who responds to concerns addressed on Twitter promptly and in a friendly manner, signing the tweet with the name of the employee who is responding. Communicate what you're doing as a company to address their issue and any changes that will take place as a result.

Related: This Agency Sends Its Clients Lemon Bars and Handwritten Thank You Notes

2. Get management involved.

Especially if there's a negative review or customer concern, feel free to involve management to show how seriously you take complaints. Findings from a survey published in Hospitality Technology revealed that "almost all respondents (90 percent) say they would likely return to a restaurant where they had a bad experience with food or service if they had the ability to communicate directly with management and felt their concerns were taken seriously and there was an effort to make it better." Showing that those even at the top care about their customer's concerns -- enough to roll up their sleeves and get involved in resolving any issues -- creates goodwill among your most vocal customers, and can turn them into some of your most ardent fans.

Related: Hey, You! Here's How You Can Be a Better Listener.

3. Show them you care.

Go above and beyond to show your customers that you care and you're sorry for any shortcomings in their experience with your business by providing them with a tangible thank you. For restaurants, giving a free appetizer or extra dessert on the house is a common and effective way to show them you care and want them to have a better experience. Whatever is appropriate and complements the service you offer, a voucher, gift or a coupon can go a long way in showing how much your value your customers and can be a great way to get them back in the door.

Related: How to Win Back Lost Customers

While soliciting feedback and reading what customers have to say is a great first step, it's not enough just to stand idly by. Listening to customer feedback and following through will help you create a better customer experience and lifelong customers.

Greg Hong

Co-Founder and Board Director of Reserve

Greg Hong is the CEO, co-Founder and board director of Reserve, a dining concierge service that makes every part of the dining experience better. Hong is an accomplished writer and speaker, and is an authority on restaurant technology, mobile payment, small business issues and solutions, entrepreneurship and millennials. He comments on the restaurant industry on Reserve's blog, where you can also find restaurant recommendations and dining insights. 

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