Customer feedback is vital to every business, big and small. Customer feedback is so important because it helps not only with the immediate success of the business, but also the long-term survival of the business.
If customer satisfaction is the lifeblood of the business, customer expectation is the compass. It shows you the path you need to take to succeed. And as you build your business, you need to be able to recognize the differences between the types of feedback you can gather, and how you can best use them to improve your business.
Which presents another problem: How do you get customer feedback? And more importantly, how do you get honest customer feedback? You first need to earn their trust enough for them to provide you with the feedback you need.
Here are 6 ways to do just that:
Every interaction with your customers offers a chance to learn something valuable about how they're using and feeling about your services. The magic of collecting feedback from day-to-day interactions is that the feedback is “always on”. You just have to think about what you want to listen for.
Unless you have the luxury of listening in on every customer call, the trick to doing this at scale is taking advantage of the digital trail each customer interaction leaves behind. Now more than ever, many customer interactions leave behind a digital footprint:
Notes from Customer Relationship Management software (CRM)
Your Twitter or Facebook feed
In all this, there's a wealth of valuable customer feedback to be found. The only thing you need is a way to gather it all together and find what you need in the digital trail (more on this later).
Remember that building a business is a team effort. Your customer-facing teams, the people who directly engage with customers every day, will always be primary sources of frontline intelligence. In many organizations, the work that they do, and the feedback they generate can be lost in translation on its way to the executive suite.
Involve your customer-facing teams in the conversation. Communicate to them the intelligence that you want and have protocols in place to get the information you need. Don't just leave valuable customer insights to chance or buried in CRM or Customer Success Platforms where they're easily overlooked.
Calling and messaging your customers is another excellent way to gather feedback, yet, it must be done with the customer in mind. Calling a customer to ask about an issue they've had is a good idea, but it's best to do it in a way that makes them feel comfortable with you.
You know who they are. They're your most loyal customers, the ones who buy from you again and again. They're also your best source of feedback. Ask them for their honest opinion and listen to what they have to say.
Gathering feedback this way will not only give you a more realistic view of how your customers are interacting with your offerings, but it will also help you pinpoint the core issues your customers are experiencing.
Emails are great for gathering feedback and getting to know your customers better. However, you should be strategic about how you use them. Your customers are used to receiving plenty of emails, so you need to send emails that will be relevant to them, arriving at an ideal time.
Think about how you use a company's services. Whenever you sign up for a newsletter, update your subscription, or make any kind of change to your account, you're expecting an email from that company, right?
Bingo. Most companies automate those emails and rightfully so. But you can slip in a personal email to your customers to ask for feedback or even include a request for feedback in the automated sequence.
For example, if you're sending a newsletter about your company's new app, you can include a personal email asking if the app is meeting their expectations. This will give you a chance to gain valuable intel about what your customers think of your app and how they use it.
Social media is a fantastic way to stay in touch with your customers, get to know them better, and allow them to tell you what they think of your company. Create a plan and be smart about how you do this — your customers aren't on social media to be spammed, remember.
Whatever platform your customers like to use, you can be sure they're using it daily. That makes it easy for you to see the day-to-day movements in customer opinion. If you want to see how your product launch is going, social media is the place to be. You can monitor their public conversations to get their thoughts organically or ask them for direct feedback from within the social platform.
If you want to know more about how your customers are using your product or service, a survey is the way to go. A survey is a tool you can use to gather information about your customers. You can use it to ask them about their experience, their satisfaction, or to simply gather feedback about a particular feature or element of your service.
Surveys are a broad tool with many uses. You can send them out periodically to your customers, perhaps with a small incentive for filling it out. Plus, each time your customers engage in any kind of transaction with your company can also be an opportunity for a survey. That transaction could involve anything from resolving a customer support issue to directly purchasing one of your products.
Essentially, almost any meaningful interaction between you and your customer is an opportunity to use a survey.
Your surveys shouldn’t all be uniform. The questions you ask naturally depend on the information you want to receive. For example, more open-ended questions might be called for when you want feedback about how they’re enjoying your product or service. But if they’ve recently made a purchase, you might want to frame your questions around a ratings scale so you can develop benchmarks around their responses. Your surveys could also mix and match these methods as well.
Customer feedback is critical, and it comes from many different sources. It derives from day-to-day customer interactions, talking to customers, and formal feedback channels like customer surveys. Making sense of all of that input across so many channels can be challenging.
Companies like Quala help businesses find the signal through the noise by mining all of your different feedback sources. Quala considers the input both directly from customers and insights from teams on the frontlines talking to customers. Quala further puts all of this data in context, highlighting which customers are providing feedback and their revenue contribution to the business. This capability is called frontline intelligence.
When your customers trust you enough to give you honest feedback — and you respond to that feedback in innovative ways — you generate more trust. The more you do it, the more you reinforce a positive feedback cycle. But long before that happens, you need to figure out how to do something profitable with the feedback you receive. That means three things:
Structure the data (make it useful)
Analyze the data (learn from it)
Change your strategy (bend to the data)
Having all that data offers no benefit if you're not willing to take action based on what you learn. If you've done your job, you'll be able to spot the trends in your data and make the necessary changes to your business, whether that’s new product capabilities or changes to the customer experience.
Yet, that's only the beginning. Now you need to review your data and learn from it. This means that you need to find the patterns, commonalities, and differences in your customer data. Such is the only way you'll see how your customers are responding to your changes.
There are many opportunities for sourcing and optimizing customer feedback. Be creative, use the resources you have, and don't spread yourself too thin. If you need help gathering actionable customer intel, contact us here at Quala.