To deliver a great customer experience that builds loyal, repeat customers, you must gather, evaluate, and act on customer feedback. Your customers can provide a wealth of information about your company and your competitors. They can help you develop a better product, help you provide a better service, and help you offer more value.
“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates
An excellent article from Client Heartbeat outlines some very good reasons to gather customer feedback.
- Actionable feedback guides better business decisions. Whether it is decisions about your product or the way you deliver a service, your customers will give you the best advice. They’ll tell you if what you’re doing sucks, and praise you if you’re doing it right.
- Identify ‘at risk’ customers. By gathering customer feedback you can identify your customers that are not 100% happy. These customers will tell you how they really feel about your company. It is this feedback that is so valuable.
- Stop re-occurring problems. Customers will tell you like it is. You can use their feedback to quickly and proactively solve the problems that are causing an unhappy customer. Use this feedback to implement systems to stop the problems occurring again and potentially affecting other customers.
- Increase customer satisfaction and reduce churn. Listening to your customers is one of nine customer retention strategies that are proven to increase customer satisfaction. It shows that you care, and goes a long way to building a healthy business relationship. People do business with people they like, know and trust – by keeping the two-way conversation open, your business can create strong, long-term relationships that provide lifetime revenue.
- Discover potential advocates. Customer satisfaction is a key indicator as to how happy a customer is with your company. By gathering customer feedback, you can identify who you’re happiest customers are, and look to nurture them into raving advocates. Customer advocates are people who will rave about your product or service and recommend it to friends and colleagues. Imagine a world where all your new customers came from business referrals? That world is a reality, providing you know who your advocates are.
The article goes on to suggest 19 successful ways to gather customer feedback which are excerpted below:
- Customer Surveys
Customer Surveys are a great way to start the customer feedback process. They offer a medium that your customer is familiar with, and they give you the chance to ask specific questions that you want answers to.
- Behavioral Insight Surveys
Behavioral insight surveys offer businesses the ability to conduct customer feedback on a personal, behavior-driven basis.
- Telephone Surveys
Surveys conducted via the phone tend to give you higher survey response rates because they are more personalized and give you better reach to your customers. The challenge with telephone surveys is they are expensive. Conducting a telephone survey to gather customer feedback tends to cost a lot more than if you used an online survey tool.
- Mobile Surveys
With 47% of your customers now opening emails via their mobile device (24% change from last year), combined with studies that have showed people look at their phones an average of 150 times a day, mobile surveys need to be a part of your customer feedback process.
- Feedback Forms
Hard copy customer feedback forms that can sit around the office or be used during business meetings, offer a great means to gather feedback from customers. This is one of my favorite ways to get actionable feedback because it brings back the human element. Too many times we are expected to fill out surveys online.
- Focus Groups
A focus group is a form of qualitative research in which a group of people are asked about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes towards a product, service or company. These are an important tool when it comes to collecting customer feedback. They are commonly used in marketing during the early stages of product or concept development, when a company is trying to determine who their target market is, and where the product-market fit is good.
- Usability Testing
Usability testing is a customer feedback strategy that is used by a lot of web-based businesses. Software companies and e-Commerce sites can benefit a lot from doing usability testing. Think about it, imagine if you could watch your customers use your online product or browse through your website? You’re able to see exactly what your customers are doing and see trends in what pages they spend the most time on and the least time.
- Monitor Social Media
Social media is the ultimate medium to listen to your customers. Customer feedback is a plenty when it comes to sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The challenge is how to monitor it effectively and use it meaningfully.
- Quarterly Business Reviews
Quarterly business reviews give you an opportunity to sit down with your clients, discuss what’s happened in the previous three months and discover ways you can deliver an even better service to them.
- Website Activity
Do your customers actually use your website or are they getting stuck somewhere?
- Community Groups and Discussion Boards
Customers love being a part of a community. Online community groups and discussion boards provide a great platform to engage customers for feedback.
- Customer Feedback Portals
Customer feedback portals are 24/7 feedback machines that make gathering feedback from customers super easy.
- Personal Emails
Taking a personalized approach to customer feedback by sending emails can help you get more responses. This is a strategy I recommend if you are looking for more detailed feedback from customers, that goes beyond the basic survey questions or feedback forms.
- Suggestion Boxes
Suggestion boxes are used more when it comes to getting customer feedback in offline environments like restaurants, B2C services, and B2B services in the financial and insurance sectors. This form of customer feedback gathering has been around for decades and still provides a great medium to engage and listen to customers.
- Customer Feedback Widgets
Tools like UserVoice and Get Satisfaction give you embeddable widgets that you can place on all your pages, so customers can easily provide you feedback.
- Customer Reviews
A 2014 study by BrightLocal found that 88% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations. Customer reviews are a form of customer feedback and provide you with great insight into what your customers really think about your business.
- Live Chat
Forrester Research completed a study called, “Making Proactive Chat Work”, which found that man online consumers want help from a live person while there are shopping online.
- In-app feedback
In-app customer feedback gives you insight into how your customers actually use your product. Intercom.io offers a great solution to help you reach out to the right users for feedback. It works by letting you identify certain segments of users, like “users last visit more than seven days”, and then enables you to push messages and engage in conversation with them.
- Email and Ticket Closing Surveys
The 19th customer feedback strategy is the use of email ticket closing surveys. They have a low response rate but they are still recommended for gathering customer feedback in certain situations.
In the full article author Ross Beard describes the tools that are used to technologically enable most of the above strategies for gathering customer feedback. Regular readers of our blogs know that we are passionate about putting the customer in the center of your business and ensuring that all of your decisions are guided by a focus on your customers. Companies that are focused on their customer are implementing the above strategies and integrating them into their customer experience systems. But BEWARE – not all customer feedback can help your business! In our next blog, we will discuss how to evaluate the feedback and determine which is the most valuable and how to act on it.
This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career. He is a certified sales and sales management trainer. He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.