Customer Feedback Strategy Guide
The ultimate guide about customer feedback that will skyrocket your business.
What Is Customer Feedback?
Simply put, customer feedback represents the totality of customer comments, opinions, and suggestions. Collecting customer feedback is essential to the growth and development of any business. From the local bakery to the largest enterprises in the world, client feedback is the fuel behind most changes in the product or services being offered.
Creating a customer feedback system that works and continuously provides you with valuable insights from your customers isn’t an easy task. It’s not an impossible one either.. We’ll show you exactly what customer feedback is, the importance of it, and how to collect it the right way.
Feedback is a gift from your customer to show opportunities to create an even better customer experience. (…) Respect your customers’ time and keep surveys short. For example, a question that rates the service or product – or maybe an NPS question – followed up with an open-ended question to understand the “why” behind the rating. Then don’t just look at the feedback. Use it to take your service and CX to the next level.Shep Hyken
customer service expert and New York Times bestselling author
Why Collect Customer Feedback?
The customer feedback definition given above might seem dull, but there are very important reasons that make consumer feedback a key ingredient for success. Why should a business collect customer feedback?
- It helps you improve your product or service. All the feedback you receive on your product or service can help you create better versions of it based on your customers’ opinions and issues.
- It connects you to your customers and makes them feel part of your story. Giving your customers a voice and allowing them to communicate with you, having an emotional response to your business allows you to connect with your customers in a most genuine way.
- It creates loyalty with your customers. Asking for feedback makes people want to come back to your business again and again, precisely because their voice is heard.
- Even when it’s negative, you can use it to put your business in a good light. If you respond to negative feedback quickly and in a way that opens a dialogue with an upset customer, you’ll put your brand in a good light.
- It helps you convince new leads. Most people check for online reviews before they buy something, so publicly shared customer feedback helps you convince them to buy from you.
- It helps you improve your website. Your customer feedback questions don’t have to be about the product or service you offer only! They can be about your website or app too. Asking the right questions will help you optimize your website for better user experience and conversions.
- It helps you create offers tailored for your customers’ needs. How could you know what people want if you don’t ask them? The right customer feedback questionnaire can provide you with insight into what kind of offers your customers are looking for, so that you can create them.
- It improves customer satisfaction. The more you ask your customers about your product, the more you learn, the more you improve your product, and the more you can boost the customer satisfaction score.
- It gives you a better understanding of which of your marketing channels works best. Simply asking your customers on which channels they found you can help you better understand which of your marketing channels are most successful for your business.
- It helps your content marketing strategy. Not sure if people are actually enjoying your content (or finding it useful)? Ask them! Together with the data you gather from Google Analytics and other tools, a customer feedback survey on your content can completely overhaul your strategy and take you in the right direction.
- It helps you understand and validate your buyer personas. Creating buyer personas is essential for the success of every marketing campaign you run. However, buyer personas “on paper” and “real life” personas might not always match — and a well-built customer feedback survey can help you better understand and validate your quantitative research-based personas.
- It helps you fine-tune your messaging. Once you understand who your users are and what they’re looking for, you can use customer feedback to create better messages for them.
How to Collect Customer Feedback
Collecting customer feedback can sometimes feel like a daunting task. How do you do it? Do you just go out and randomly ask people what they think about your business? How to get customer feedback in a world that’s incredibly noisy — except when you actually want people to speak up?
Clearly, customer feedback surveys that go out without clear customer feedback systems and strategies don’t work out well. Therefore, you need to plan this ahead and make sure that all your feedback collection efforts are properly put together.
It all starts with understanding the customer feedback loop, which we’ve described below. Once you understand the basics for building a customer feedback program that works, you should also dive into the main types of customer feedback. You should also learn more about the main feedback collection strategies, the most common feedback methods and tools, as well as how to actually use customer feedback to grow your business.
Understanding the Customer Feedback Loop
The Customer Feedback Loop is a four-stage feedback system that helps you generate meaningful responses to the feedback you receive from your customers. You can also create surveys that help you from multiple points of view.
The four stages of a Customer Feedback Loop are the following:
This Feedback Loop is also known as ACAF, for the initials of each stage in the cycle. Each of these stages comes with its own particularities.
More specifically, the “Asking” stage can be split in three sub-categories of questions:
- Asking questions that follow overall trends
- Asking questions that identify service issues
- Asking questions that identify product issues
The “Categorizing” stage can also be split into three main sub-categories:
- Product feedback
- Customer service feedback
- Marketing & sales feedback
The “Action” stage is where you have to bring together the Product team, the Customer Support team, and the Marketing & Sales team to devise an action plan according to the feedback you’ve received.
Last, but definitely not least, the “Follow-up” stage means getting back to the customer that gave you the feedback. In case of positive feedback, your follow-up should show gratitude for the time they’ve allocated into giving you their two cents and for having chosen your product in the first place. In case of negative feedback, the follow-up should open a dialogue and show the customer you’re on your way to fixing the problem(s) they’ve pointed out.
OK, now that you know why customer feedback is important and how to structure your feedback cycle, let’s take a look at some of the main types of customer feedback.
Types of Customer Feedback
Not all customer feedback is created alike. Different types of customer feedback are used in different situations (and for different kinds of questions, goals, and target audiences). The most common types of customer feedback include:
Customer Feedback Surveys
By far one of the most common types of customer feedback, surveys are efficient at collecting quantitative data (on close-ended questions) and qualitative data (on open-ended questions). A customer feedback survey can be sent via email, it can be posted on your website, or it can even be taken via phone. Here are some examples of running customer feedback surveys.
When people leave reviews (on Google, Social Media, or various review sites, for example), they’re leaving you with important nuggets of information in the form of feedback. Make sure you consistently follow all the review sources and address all negative reviews that might come your way.
Customer interviews tend to be a little less common than surveys, but they can be an equally efficient way of collecting direct, honest, and very human feedback from your customers. This type of feedback can help you answer the “why” behind all the information you might have gathered in your quantitative research. And effective customer interviews go a long way – so make sure you plan them properly.
Customer Complaints and Bug Reports
If you have a customer complaint and/or bug report form on your site, pay attention to the feedback coming in there as well, as it’s very important.
Customer Feature Requests
Likewise, if you collect customer feature requests, treat them as feedback as well. If more customers are requesting a specific feature, it might be a trend you want to identify and address as soon as possible.
Social Media & Community Feedback
Social Media, communities (like Reddit, for example), and even your blog’s comments section can all be invaluable sources of customer feedback. Keep in mind that Social Media can be a source of feedback both through reviews (such as Facebook reviews) and through comments and what people are saying about your brand online (you can use a Social Media listening tool for this).
Metrics like bounce rate (which you can find in your Google Analytics) or how much time people spend on specific areas of your page (which you can learn by using heatmap tools) can also be telling of how much people enjoy your site and/or content. Although all these metrics will come as raw data, you can still draw important feedback points from your visitors’ behavior on your site (or in your app).
This type of research is usually applied by businesses on a given pool of users with the purpose of collecting very specific feedback on the usability of a product. If you decide to run User Research, you have to keep in mind that your incentives will have to be quite strong (precisely because this kind of feedback tends to be more time-consuming for your users).
Customer Feedback Collection Strategies
Just as there are many types of feedback, there are also many types of feedback collection strategies you can use. Some of the most popular ones include:
- Sending follow-up emails. A quick follow-up email after a sales call or an interaction could be a good opportunity for you to ask for feedback from customers (or leads, if you want to learn why they didn’t end up buying, for example).
- Recording sales calls. Obviously, sales calls aim for different things other than feedback. However, if you can record them (i.e. if you have permission to do it), you might be able to draw some important tips from them.
- Sending SMS surveys. Sometimes, old-school SMS surveys are a very valid and efficient option. Of course, they have to be very short (limit yourself to one question per SMS), but they might work (for example, after a phone call with a Customer Care representative).
- Reviewing live chat transcripts. Again, the main purpose of live chat support is’t feedback in the proper sense of the word. However, reviewing the transcripts can help you better understand your customers’ pain points and likes.
- Asking for feedback once a product has been delivered. If you run an eCommerce business, you can ask customers for feedback once the product has been delivered (e.g. you can ask them if the service was satisfactory via a quick email).
- Offering an incentive. People tend to be reserved when it comes to spending time on feedback surveys and questionnaires. However, if you offer them an incentive (such as a giveaway or a discount), they’ll be more willing to do it.
- Conducting customer interviews. Asking questions in a form or survey is one thing. Meeting your customers face-to-face (or over the phone/ video calls) is a completely different thing. Customer interviews tend to be one of the greatest sources of information when you want to better understand why there might be a general tendency in your customers to believe something about your product.
- Using Social Media listening tools. The beauty of the internet is that people use it to talk about, well, stuff. And that “stuff” might also be your product (or service). Social Media listening tools allow you to track when your brand is mentioned and “eavesdrop” into public conversations people are having about it. Consequently, this will enable you to learn more about how your product is perceived “out there”.
- Ask for a rating in a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey. An NPS survey is very useful when it comes to identifying your brand’s promoters and detractors. To learn more about it, kindly check out this extensive piece we wrote on the Net Promoter Score.
- Use on-page pop-up surveys. OK, nobody likes pop-ups interrupting their experience. However, they can sometimes be quite useful, especially if timed correctly.
- Set up end of Customer Support interaction surveys. Quick surveys (of one-two questions) prompted at the end of all Customer Support interactions (via email or live chat) can help you learn more about the quality of your Customer Support services and the interactions people might have with it.
Customer Feedback Tools
There are a lot of feedback tools you can use, such as:
- A form builder (for surveys, questionnaires, complaint forms, and so on)
- A Social Media listening tool (to see what people say about you on Social Media)
- A chatbot (which you can trigger to send automatic quick surveys at the end of Customer Support interactions)
- An email automation tool (which you can integrate with your forms and send out scheduled surveys to your customers)
Stop trying to read your customers’ minds!
Create customer feedback surveys like a pro
How to Use Customer Feedback
Collecting customer feedback is one thing — acting on it is a different thing.
It’s clearly not enough to simply collect survey answers and opinions. No matter how many of them you have, they don’t mean much if you don’t act on the matters pointed out as well. This is exactly why the aforementioned feedback cycle is so important. If you adhere to it and you set up processes when it comes to fixing issues, customer feedback will prove to be simply priceless.
Customer Feedback Collection Tips
Aside from everything mentioned in this piece, there are also customer feedback collection tips you might want to keep in mind. Of course, entire books could be written about this — but the following tips are some of the most important you should use:
- Use the best possible methods of collecting feedback. As we mentioned above, there are many types of feedback you can collect. Of course, each and every one of them has its own pros and cons. Thus, it’s crucial for you to weigh all the options before making a decision (and determine which ones should be used in which circumstances).
- Look for hidden meaning in your customers’ feedback. Customer feedback is just that — customer feedback. It comes from your customers’ perspective. Consequently, the messages you receive should be interpreted with that in mind (and not with any other kind of emphasis or interpretation).
- Know your customers. In order to interpret and act upon feedback, you need to know who those customers are. After all, two people can have different reasons to provide negative feedback about the same aspect of your product or service.
- Connect everything together. As you collect feedback, you’ll find out that there’s no such thing as “good” or “bad” feedback — there’s only “factual” and “hypothetical”. Therefore, it’s crucial for you to connect everything together (and make it work for your business).
- Be wise about your surveys. The survey questions you use, the way you order them, and how many of them you include in a survey are all essential factors to consider. Make sure you create surveys that are short, sweet, and to the point — anything longer than a few questions will only irritate customers (and make you miss the mark in terms of what you want to learn from the survey). If you’re looking for customer survey questions you could include in your forms, check out this piece, as it includes no less than one hundred survey questions you can use.
- Great design goes a long way. When it comes to surveys and how customers interact with your brand, great design can help you make your forms and questionnaires a lot more attractive and “friendly” for your users.
- Be sure to let customers know their data and their opinions are well-protected and listened to. Abiding by GDPR and other regulations isn’t only a matter of legislation, but also a matter of smoothing out the connection between you and your clients.
- Always address and respond to negative feedback as soon as possible. This will increase people’s trust in your brand and it’ll show your business as a transparent one that’s willing to fix issues, rather than sweep them under the carpet.
Customer feedback can be a complicated affair, but, as mentioned in the beginning, it’s not one that’s impossible to manage. With the right processes in place and a mindset focused on customers, getting feedback from customers can be your best ally when it comes to growth.
Listen carefully to what people have to say, improve, and make your business a truly customer-centric one — it’s one of the best ways to ensure success regardless of your industry or business’ size.
Frequently Asked Questions on Customer Feedback
What is good customer feedback?
Good customer feedback consists of positive opinions, ratings, and reviews you receive from your customers. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing to perfect about your product and/or service, so don’t lean on it only.
Why is customer feedback important?
Customer feedback is important because it helps you understand your customers better. You see, if you don’t have a customer feedback system in place, it might be difficult to find out the reasons why they left your business.
What are the types of customer feedback?
The main types of customer feedback include surveys, customer reviews, and comments. Surveys are the best available form of customer feedback because they’re easy to do. However, for a company to use surveys would be a bad idea because that would only increase their workload. For more information about the types of customer feedback, please refer to the dedicated section in this piece.
What are disadvantages of feedback?
There’s no real disadvantage to receiving feedback, not even when it’s negative. The more opinions you collect, the more you learn about what your customers want. Yes, it can be unpleasant to see negative reviews in public spaces (such as on Facebook, for example). But addressing those issues and showing the world that you actually communicate with ALL of your customers (even the unhappy ones) will put you in a good light.
Does feedback improve performance?
Yes, feedback does improve performance, on one condition: the points made in the customer feedback have to be applied too.
Why is immediate feedback important?
Immediate feedback is important because you need to know what your customers want in real time. This is especially important if you provide any kind of technical support (for example, in case you’re an IT company).
When should you ask for customer feedback?
There’s no set recipe as to WHEN you should solicit feedback from customers. However, there are some guidelines you can use to guide your decision making. For example, you might want to ask your customers to rate/review your product/service within the first 30 days of using it.
How do you organize customer feedback?
Organizing customer feedback is essential if you want to get the most out of it. You can organize customer feedback in numerous ways, and one of the ways is by separating the negative from the positive, as well as by separating customer feedback according to its type (e.g. surveys, reviews, comments). Categorizing feedback according to the department it pertains to will also help you tackle the problems pointed out.
How can feedback improve a service?
Feedback improves a service by allowing you to gain a deep, thorough understanding of how you can do better for your customers. Listening to what they have to say is key in developing a business that centers around what people want (not what you think they want).
How do I get honest customer feedback?
There’s no real, given way to get honest customer feedback. It’s all about reading between the lines and doing your best to interpret the information you receive. If you’re honest and transparent with your customers, they’ll always be more likely to be equally honest with you.
How do you ask for feedback from customers’ examples?
You can ask your customers to rate or review your product/service by email, using a widget on your website, or by leaving a comment. You can also get some feedback from social media, such as Twitter and Facebook.
How can you seek ongoing feedback from customers to improve performance?
Setting up scheduled surveys can help you seek ongoing feedback from customers, which can consequently help you improve the performance of your product and/or service.