Real business story

Customer feedback is a powerful tool to inform your business plan

One of the most valuable tools to shape your business is customer feedback. Used correctly, it can help you innovate and invest with greater confidence.
Dan Szor - Cotswolds Distillery

Spotting trends has helped Dan Szor plan and invest in Cotswold Distillery with more confidence

Engaging with customers effectively provides insights into how you can make a company more efficient, productive and profitable.

By seeing what is working and what is letting you down, you can hone your business to meet customer needs and expectations.

Use feedback to inspire new ideas

The team at Cotswolds Distillery use customer feedback from a variety of sources to develop its offering and hone the product range.

Tripadvisor has proved to be the most important platform to the whisky and gin distillery, which is also a popular visitor attraction. SurveyMonkey has also inspired new ideas.

“As we witnessed the fast growth of interest in our visitor experience we moved quickly to establish ourselves on Tripadvisor, which is in my opinion the most valuable source of feedback for a hospitality provider like us,” founder and CEO Dan Szor said.

An issue flagged by Tripadvisor reviews was disappointed customers who had turned up to the distillery only to find that all tours have been booked days in advance. Because of this, the website now clearly states that people need to book ahead.

Other visitors complained about not being able to try the products because staff were busy attending to other customers. To combat this, Dan hired more staff to ensure that all drop-in customers can sample any spirits that interests them.

One of the biggest additions to the business came as a result of feedback from an automatic SurveyMonkey form which was sent to all visitors who had been on a tour of the distillery.

“The number one request was for some sort of café – a place visitors could sit down before or after their tour and have a cup of tea or a light bite,” Dan said.

The realisation prompted the company to invest in a new, larger and more comfortable visitor centre complete with café.

“As we witnessed the fast growth of interest in our visitor experience we moved quickly to establish ourselves on Tripadvisor, which is in my opinion the most valuable source of feedback for a hospitality provider like us."

Dan Szor, CEO, Cotswold Distillery

Let data determine decisions

Spotting trends in the business has enabled Cotswold Distillery to plan and invest with more confidence.

Dan, who previously worked in finance, said his comfort with and reliance on quantitative analytical tools has served the business well.

“We make certain to record not only how many bottles of each spirit and items of merchandise has sold every day, but also our visitor numbers – both tours and walk-ins. After months and years of painstaking data collection, trends start to emerge – and they allow us to plan and invest more confidently,” Dan said.

Choose the right mix of feedback

There are many ways to obtain customer feedback and it is important to decide which sources most align with your objectives.

Surveys provide statistical data that can be used to benchmark performance. Face-to-face conversations allow for more nuanced, qualitative feedback. Online reviews are good for getting the big picture but can be unreliable unless there’s a significant volume.

When using customer feedback it’s important to decide what it’s going to be used for. Is the aim to overhaul a particular part of your service or are you looking for insights into product development? From this, companies can then identify which sources of feedback work best and how they can be managed together.

When it comes to using customer feedback, it’s important to share data with your team, so that everyone can add their thoughts and take away lessons. After all, the customer experience has a relation to bear on everything from finance and HR to new product development.

Your next steps for using customer feedback

Use our checklist to turn feedback into actions

Top takeaways

Any unfulfilled customer need within your business can be identified with customer feedback, empowering you to innovate.

By using quantitative analytical tools, you can identify trends and patterns within your business and plan with greater confidence.

Choose which sources of customer feedback (surveys, online reviews, face-to-face conversations etc.) are most aligned with what you want to accomplish.