Customer feedback is one of the most important key ingredients when it comes to representing your customer, business growth, and customer satisfaction. It’s the two-way conversation that provides you with the knowledge to allow your business to grow and change alongside your customers.
In this article we’ll cover:
- Why customer feedback is important,
- The initial steps in creating an effective customer feedback strategy,
- Important influences on feedback that you need to consider,
- Using work relationships to help streamline your strategy.
Why is customer feedback important?
Customer feedback gives you the chance to learn about your own product and business from the people who’re actively using it.
While you may know your organization like the back of your hand, your knowledge will still be lacking when it comes to how paying members experience it.
Feedback’s a gateway to unlocking this “hidden” knowledge, and can lead to an increase in customer loyalty, customer retention, and overall revenue.
Still not convinced? Here’re some key stats to help change your mind:
- Engaged customers buy 90% more often, spend 60% more per transaction,
- Engaged customers are five times more likely to indicate their chosen brand is the only one they’d use in the future, and
- Customers who have a good experience with a brand are 38% more likely to recommend that company.
Creating an effective customer feedback strategy
The effectiveness of your customer feedback strategy will depend on how you implement it into your current business and how well you specialize it to your customer base.
A good place to start is to understand who makes up your customer base and what makes them tick. One way to do this is to categorize your base using customer segmentation.
What to consider before planning a customer feedback strategy
Before you begin planning out your strategy, there’re a few things you must consider.
How will you prioritize the feedback?
Customer feedback is always useful, but don’t forget that you’re not just working with them, you’re working with other teams within your organization too.
Let your teams have their say on what to prioritize too. That way, you won’t be overloading them with irrelevant tasks.
What’ll you do with the data?
Collecting this feedback is a useful step and shows customers that you care about their input. But without clear actions behind it, data collection can be a waste of time
Establish what you'll do with the feedback once you have it, and make sure that you have the resources and budget to cover making these changes.
What’re you hoping to get out of collecting this data?
Understanding what goal you’re moving toward will help you prioritize certain questions and help feedback collection stay focussed on one clear goal. Setting a KPI or OKR can give you a clear aspiration to work towards.
Knowing what action you want to take can help you choose questions pertaining to that topic. That way you aren’t flailing around struggling to decide what to do with data that isn’t specialized to a certain topic.
Once you have the answer to these questions, then you can get stuck in.
The customer feedback loop
There’re four stages to a well crafted feedback system, known as the A.C.A.F. customer feedback loop. This takes you through both the collection and implementation of this feedback. The sections are as follows:
Once you know the goals surrounding why you’re collecting this data, you can now collect it. Which form of data collection you choose will depend on a few factors.
Firstly, consider the sample size you’re aiming for. If you want 100 people to answer your questions, or 100,000 people to answer them, your strategy will be different for both.
For large sample sizes, you should prioritize only 1 or 2 questions that take little to no time to answer. Choose something like a voting system on your website pages, or a live chat to give you instant and ongoing feedback on their experience of your site.
For small sample sizes consider a system where you can ask more questions and have them answered more in depth. Focus groups are a great way to get more clear and detailed answers from your customers.
Second, focus on the type of feedback you want to collect. Is it quantitative or qualitative? A mix of both?
Again, strategies will vary. Surveys are a good way to collect both kinds of data and offer you a larger amount of flexibility in how you format them. Using exclusively multiple choice of yes/no questions can provide you with some good quantitative data. Adding in text box questions, where you allow the customer to write as much or as little as they want can provide you with a nice base of qualitative data.
Third, how in depth do you want the feedback to be? Getting feedback can be challenging because customers don’t tend to want to sit through 20 minute long surveys, if they aren’t interested in the questions you’re asking.
The more questions you ask, the smaller the size of the people willing to answer them is going to be. But you can use this to your advantage. Understanding the experience of a few customers in depth can bring out some interesting insights and pain points that a large survey won’t have picked up on.
Social media is a fantastic way to collect feedback, but it’s slightly more tricky to monitor because of how fast-paced the environment is. While social media is not a great place for long-form feedback strategies, it’s good for ‘one-click’ feedback.
Social media is also the place where customers are most likely to voice their complaints. Keep an eye on mentions of your brand on websites like Facebook, Twitter, Quora, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and other third-party review sites.
One interesting idea is to use a request board. This’ll be a dedicated place where customers can directly ask you for changes. It’s best used to collect product feedback from existing customers.
Make sure to be active on this board if you’re going to use one. Let customers see the changes their suggestions have made.
There’re typically three main categories you can place customer feedback into. These are:
- Product feedback
- Customer service feedback
- Marketing & sales feedback
This is feedback relating to the product you're selling. This is a really important part of the customer-business relationship as it focuses on the focal point of your customer’s investment..
This feedback can help you detect both major and minor bugs in your system, and at the same time, provide you with the answer to where to take your product next.
Customers have a good understanding of what they feel is lacking, and you can keep your product matching with customer expectation by implementing this feedback into each new iteration of your product.
Customer service feedback
This is about how customers interact with you and more importantly, how they feel you interact with them.
In the coming years, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator, so it’s vital to know how they feel about your customer service.
You can keep this ticking over constantly with live chats, or use personalization techniques to tailor the experience by sending a follow up email asking about their experience. You have to understand where the frustration points of your customer service are so you can sustainably begin to fix them.
Marketing & sales feedback
Customers will get an idea about your product without ever having used it through marketing and sales. While this can be an incredibly useful tool to drive promotion and sales, if your product under delivers on what marketing and sales have promised, your customers aren’t going to be happy.
Consumers are most frustrated with inconsistent brand messaging. Any exaggerated statements, or promises mistakenly made during the promotion of the product will directly impact how your customers see not just your advertising, but your entire business.
Getting this feedback on where you may have over delivered on promises, means you can collaborate with you marketing and sales team to then adjust your marketing accordingly.
The most important thing about feedback is the follow-up response. Showing your customers that you’ve acted on their feedback is the best way to show that they’re appreciated (they will be more likely to continue giving feedback in the future).
This is also where cross-departmental collaboration comes into play. Once you’ve categorized your feedback, you can then pass it onto the relevant branch of your company, be it your sales team, product, or customer support.
You can decide when and how often to share this feedback, but it’s vital that you do so. All the data you’ve gathered is going to be wasted just sitting in a spreadsheet; it has to be followed up with an action.
This is where you prove to your customers that they’re being heard. This can be seen in the changes in your product or service, but you can also exemplify this change by actively showing it to your customers through a report or project.
Giving customers something physical and concrete like a report can help them understand the changes they’re seeing, and goes a long way to showing your appreciation of their support.
Also, being personal and sending a thank you note to those that gave you feedback can be all you need to make your customers happy.
Another way of monitoring the success of any changes you made is through using some key metrics. These can include:
Net Promoter Score (NPS) = Measuring the likelihood that a customer would recommend a company, product, or a service to a friend or colleague.
Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) = a measurement of how satisfied a customer is with a specific interaction with a company.
Customer Effort Score (CES) = can help you measure how much effort was required by your customers to get their problem solved.”
These monitor any general changes in customer opinions, especially if you use them as a comparison statistic to monitor the success of any changes you’ve recently implemented.
These metrics mainly come from feedback, so you begin the cycle again.
Other factors that impact your feedback
There’re many things that may impact the level of response you get from your audience, not least from the type of feedback strategy you’re trying to get answers for. There are some mitigating factors outside of your chosen strategy that can help increase responses.
Timing is everything
The question of when you should collect feedback is as important as the type of feedback you want to collect. If someone buys your product and you wait until three months later to ask them about it, then chances are they’ll have forgotten the whole experience.
The best way of doing this is to ask them for feedback as soon as they’ve taken an action. Clicked on an ad? Ask for feedback. Brought a product? Ask for feedback. Finished a conversation with your customer service department? Ask for feedback.
It’s imperative to keep your customer on your site; don’t wait for them to move on with their day before you request feedback, as the chances are, they won’t provide a response once the interaction has ended.
Also, consider how often you’re asking customers for detailed feedback. You should do your best to avoid burnout with your customers. Asking them to complete a 20 minute survey one week, then another two weeks later is going to make them stop wanting to give feedback.
Give your customers time to work with your product and organization for a little while longer so they can experience the changes brought about from their in-depth feedback before you follow up with another.
Check in with your customers regularly
This may sound counterintuitive after the previous section, but staying in touch with your customers doesn’t exclusively have to involve asking them for feedback.
Keep them in the loop about any changes going on in your company, remind them of any season/festival offers they may want to take advantage of. Give them a chance to look at your other products and see if you have other services of interest to them.
Make sure your loyal customers are being appreciated. Offer them discounts and unique opportunities. You can also put a time limit on these types of promotions to keep your customers engaged with what’s going on in your business.
Incentives are also a good thing to consider when asking for feedback too. Be as transparent and clear as possible on the ‘why’ behind collecting this feedback, but also the goal you’re trying to achieve.
You can add exclusive offers to the survey to incentivize them to complete it. Put them into a raffle or pool for a chance to win a big prize.
Proudly display your positive feedback
Don’t be afraid to do a little boasting. Make sure prospective and existing customers know you’re proud of the changes you have made for them.
Positive feedback is a wonderful thing, and promoting it on your site lets existing customers know you care about their positive feedback, not just their complaints, and gives prospective customers real-buyers to listen to.
Cross-functional work relationships
Customer marketers will often make reference to the cross-functional nature of their role - it’s something that’s critical to ensure that the customer is at the beating heart of an organization.
Navigating the various and shifting priorities of customer success, support, product marketing and management, onboarding, and sales all on the same page is no easy task.
This article will take a look at:
💬 Tips for making communication clear and transparent.
✏️ An example of how these can be used within your business, and
🎯 Why you should pay attention to the shift from B2B or B2C to B2H (business to human).