how to gather customer feedback

A five-step guide to gathering customer feedback without getting in their way

Regularly collecting feedback from your customers is essential to staying in the game and relevant. It’s a vital part of improving your customer experience and helping people throughout your organization make better decisions as time goes on.

Let’s quickly jot down all the great things that follow when you collect adequate feedback:

  • You become more aware of your market performance
  • It gives you a chance to get closely acquainted with your target audience
  • It helps you to improve marketing strategies
  • It lets you check the competitive landscape
  • It increases customer engagement, which means more sales
  • It helps you capture new markets

And, the list goes on and on.

If you don’t know how your customers feel, it’s high time you start collecting feedback the right way.

Read on to find out how.

What is customer feedback?

In simple words, customer feedback is insight, information and inputs that you receive from a customer about your product or services. However, there is more to it.

The feedback a customer provides is vital for your reputation in the market. The words they use to describe your product or service leave a lasting footprint of your brand in the digital space. Feedback will help you refine your marketing plan, improve the quality of the service you provide, and focus on areas that need work.

While positive feedback can be a great boost to your morale, negative feedback is a great opportunity to learn and become better.

Why do you need feedback from customers?

Feedback is the guide that steers your brand in the right direction. It tells you how the customer is feeling and thinking and gives you points to improve upon. But that’s not all. Here are few questions that are answered when you ask for customer feedback:

Is your product adding value?

Amongst all the other reasons, the one that tops the list is that customer feedback enables you to understand if your product/service is of any value to the customer.
It’s the parameter by which all your prospective clients will judge your brand. 

Long story short, this is your holy grail for building a loyal customer base.

Is your marketing strategy on the right path?

Right behind this, is the fact that customer feedback helps you understand how well your marketing strategy is performing. You’ll be able to track whether or not it’s driving the right kind of traffic or how well your brand is performing in comparison to its competitors. 

Is your customer retention rate high?

When you show customers that you care and you are here to listen to their woes, they will return and probably with a much better review. Research by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company revealed that a 5% increase in customer retention rate is likely to increase profits by almost 70%. So, listen to customers and keep them involved to make them feel more valued.

What’s your conversion rate?

It’s a daunting task to convert a potential customer into a loyal buyer, but if you know just what the market needs, then it shouldn’t be an issue. Customer feedback enables you to understand that market gap. You know someone is in pain, all you need to do is hand them a painkiller—your product or service.

5 steps to collecting feedback without bothering the customer

Out of 26 unhappy customers, only one would officially go ahead and give feedback. Even if the customer is not complaining through a direct channel, chances are that they do end up leaving to a point of never returning.

There are so many passive channels like social media and word-of-mouth through which a customer can end up damaging your sales. So, it’s always better to ask them for feedback directly, without getting in their way.

Follow the very effective A.C.A.F Customer Feedback Loop. It’s  simple, direct and effective:

  • A – Ask the customers about their experience.
  • C – Categorize their feedback into different verticals according to what’s relevant to your business
  • A – Act on the collected feedback
  • F – Follow up with the customers

Step 1: Asking for customer feedback

This step involves a few blocks.

Understand the customer satisfaction trend over a period of time

Imagine you bought a good car that you love — the way it looks, moves, the thrill it gives you, basically everything.

But it takes time to learn whether the investment was worth it or did you just burn all your hard-earned money.

Similarly, a customer might be extremely happy with your product today but have a different opinion, say three months down the line. 

See how satisfied or dissatisfied your customers are today and then measure their happiness quotient over a period of time. 

The three most popular ways of getting this data are:

  • NPS (Net Promoter Score) – on a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied the customer is with your product/service
  • CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score) – taken after a shopping experience on an online application, a live chat or reading an article
  • Social Media Monitoring – a popular and highly effective medium of collecting feedback—you can use tools like Google Alerts, or Mention to track your mentions of social media sites like Facebook, Yelp, Quora, and many more.

Identifying issues related to customer services

Now the car that you have, is a top model that comes with an added feature of voice control. You’re definitely excited about that feature because that’s the whole reason you chose this particular model.

Imagine getting a customer call at 3 p.m. when you’ve just come back from a long day at work asking you about this feature and then asking you 20 multiple choice questions about this same feature. Would you be as excited to talk about voice control, then?

Our guess is, no.

There are times when these feedback phone or video calls can get extremely annoying to a point where the customer stops purchasing your product, in order to avoid going through a meticulous feedback process.

Employ simple methods to understand the pain points with your customer feedback channels.

Apart from NPS and CSAT, which are promotion-based, we have a third way of collecting data relevant to customer service which is CES (Customer Effort Score) which is more focused on the customers having a hassle-free and convenient experience while providing feedback.

Unraveling issues in the product and working on them

This point concerns the higher-ups like founders, co-founders, VPs, and project leads who deal directly with products. 

It deals with questions like: 

Is the product doing well in the market?
Was the new feature well-received?

While NPS remains the common method to attain necessary data, there are two more ways you can achieve what you want:

In-App Surveys

You see a small pop-up when you shop from your favorite website, asking you to rate the application? That’s a form of in-app survey that takes five seconds to complete but works wonders. Combine this method with NPS and you have yourself a winner. 

Like Steve Palmer, Customer Success & Growth at Knack says,

”NPS is important but we’re interested in more than just a quantitative score. For these reasons, we prefer the Net Promoter Score combined with custom survey questions.”

Feature request board

A public-facing feature request board is a great way to get customers actively involved in building your product. It’s also a great way to understand how well a new feature is performing in the market. 

Step 2: Choosing the right medium to gather feedback

Choosing the right medium for collecting feedback can be a tricky task, but once you find the medium that suits your brand the best, there’s no turning back.

Let’s have look at some of the best-known feedback channels:

Live chat

Almost 79% of people prefer live chats to share relevant feedback. A lot of new-age companies are leveraging the live-chat feature and bringing in automation to collect customer feedback and offer instant support. It’s a quick and effective way of collecting feedback without being a pain for the customer.

This generally happens when you post a chat session with a customer executive or as soon as you use the service.

Email feedback

In a short and coherent way, you can ask a customer over email if they are liking your service and how likely they are to recommend it to someone else. You can do this via email clients that help manage email communication with customers and offer a user-friendly experience.

Use these tools to create a network of customers and be as clear and concise as you can be while asking for their feedback. 

In-app feedback

In-app feedback is gaining momentum as the world is slowly transforming into a digital space. You can have a short pop-up that appears while the customer is browsing to ask them if they are enjoying the application. The message could also appear, once they quit the application or make a purchase.

This kind of feedback generally comes in handy while polishing the application and removing unnecessary bugs.

Website feedback

When someone visits your website, or online course and decides to stay there for some time, then that’s definitely something positive. 

There are tools that allow you to create SEO-integrated landing pages and also help to track views and conversation rates. So, you stay in the loop of all that’s happening on that beautiful website of yours. 

SMS blast

SMS blasts are a by-the-book, a conventional technique of gathering feedback that is still quite relevant.

A quick question like, ‘On a scale of 1 to 10, please tell us how would you rate our services?’

It’s simple, crisp, and effective which is in-win for both the customer and the business. 

Step 3: Classifying the collected feedback into relevant buckets

Now that you have all your feedback, it’s time to collate and categorize that data through a scalable process.

So how do you do that? Let’s find out.

Product Feedback

This tops the list because you want your product to be the hero of your feedback approach. A minor bug can really pull your reputation down and prevent your customers from squeezing full usage from the product. They might even miss the main feature if the bug gets out of hand, so put your focus here first.

Customer service feedback

There are a few ways you can collect customer feedback data, via:

  • Live chats
  • E-mail
  • SMS blasts

There are more ways, but these three top the list. They require less than a minute and are quick and handy ways of getting spot-on feedback.

Also, customer service feedback helps you spot a pattern in your questions and identify the weak or frustrating points. It gives you a larger room to work and build on your customer services, which is pivotal for your company’s growth. 

Marketing and sales feedback

The last category deals with keeping your marketing and sales team in check. You want to make sure that whoever is in the marketing or sales positions is informed to provide and handle customer feedback. 

Falling back on the car we recently bought, you were promised that within the next six weeks, you will receive beautiful and plush, brand new seat covers for your new car.

It’s been six months now, and you haven’t received anything apart from an annoying feedback phone call.

This is bound to cause major havoc and your customer service section will get flooded with complaints.

If you have set rules on customer feedback for your marketing and sales team, then situations like these can be monitored closely or can be entirely avoided.

Step 4: Working on the feedback

Now that you have the feedback sorted in relevant buckets, it’s time to share that and start working on bettering your product and service.

Sharing feedback with the team

Start by letting your teams know that the feedback is only to help them grow and become better at what they do. This will prompt them to keep an open mind and incorporate the feedback in a better way.

Brainstorming to create relevant strategies

Once you have teams in action and ready to make a change, gather them up in a huddle and create new strategies to make your product/service a huge success.

This could involve creating new social media strategies, or a killer digital marketing strategy, or anything that is necessary to put your brand on the block again.

Step 5: Follow up to make them believe that you are truly listening

This is where your loop closes.

Always remember that your customer should feel comfortable while giving you feedback. 

There should be no effort involved because that’s generally looked down upon. Also, they should know that you’re listening to them “Oh, so they did listen and now I have my new car seat covers”. This should be their response.

You can follow up over an e-mail or via SMS or even a quick call. Say things like, “We received your feedback, and here’s an updated product just for you” or “Hey there! You said and we listened. Tell us how you feel about your brand new covers. We’re all ears!”.
Positive and affirmative statements go a long way in re-instilling your customer’s faith in your service.

Conclusion

Fresh or old, small or big, start-ups or conglomerates, they all need customer feedback. It’s the only way of understanding if the customers are happy with what they’re getting or if the company is simply wasting resources and shooting arrows in the air.

Spend some time on understanding, collating, analyzing and working on the customer feedback and you’ll see how your small business sky-rockets within a short span of time. 


Author Bio
Victoria Taylor, Mailbird

Victoria is a Content Marketer at Mailbird, an award-winning email management app that allows you to save time managing multiple accounts. Victoria specializes in all things digital and content marketing. When she’s not experimenting with new content, she’s on a podcast or recording on YouTube

Victoria Taylor, Mailbird