The term ‘customer feedback’ describes a review by a customer for any kind of product or service they have purchased or used. This feedback can come in many forms, be it a detailed written review, a multiple choice questionnaire, user activity monitored by analytics tools, and so on.
It is frequently recommended that any aspiring business person should attempt to gather and make use of customer feedback. But while it’s technically good advice, it’s not uncommon for the reasons you should gather customer feedback to be omitted, which leaves many people wondering: is customer feedback actually that important?
Yes, it is.
For one, however commendable the noble intentions and respectable company values of your business may be, when you’re creating a product or service, selling it to customers is always going to be a priority, if not the priority. Investing into market research is a sound approach to this problem, but nothing is going to beat the accuracy of real people giving an honest account of their experiences with your business. Customer feedback is also a great way of boosting your business’ reputation; 77% of customers reported they see a company in a more positive light if they are visibly making use of customer feedback, and this admiration for feedback can then be converted into flattering quotations or highly starred positive reviews to make company endorsements.
Unfortunately, customer feedback is quite rare, and getting the most out of it can be difficult. Only 1 in 26 customers actually go out of their way to give feedback, while the other 25 will leave without sharing their opinions.
The problem is therefore twofold: how do you encourage more customers to leave feedback, and how do you use their feedback effectively to make positive changes to your business?
To answer this, we’ll start by going through the four stages of the customer feedback loop, before moving on to go through six of the most popular and useful types of customer feedback you should look to employ for your business.
The customer feedback loop
One of the best things about customer feedback is that, provided you approach things in the right way, customer feedback forms a natural pattern of continuous improvement for a business. This is referred to as a loop because of how the first and last stages are connected when the business and customer form a mutual engagement with each other.
There are four stages in the customer feedback loop: collecting customer feedback, analysing feedback data, applying feedback/testing, and following up with customers. Let’s go over each of them in a bit more detail.
1. Collecting customer feedback
In addition to there being a range of different types of customer feedback, there are also multiple methods you can use to collect this feedback, including but not limited to surveys, social media monitoring, and review platforms. While the type of feedback you want will affect the method you use to collect it – as we’ll see a little later on – there are a few universal rules you should follow when collecting your feedback.
First, to identify the method you’ll use, you need to understand specifically what it is you’re asking for. Do you want to examine a change in trends for customer satisfaction over time, or are you more concerned with immediate performance? Is there a specific area you want feedback on, like a certain product or service, or do you want more open ended feedback? Do you need feedback for a specific team or member(s) in your business? What channels would be best to reach your customer on? While general customer feedback isn’t necessarily bad, the chances are if you look hard enough, you’ll be able to identify areas of your business that could benefit the most from the feedback beforehand, which in turn will help tailor your customers’ answers to be closer to your current needs.
Second, keep the convenience of the customer in mind when asking for feedback. Whatever methods you choose to use, it’s recommended to ensure the feedback process doesn’t take up too much of the customer’s time, and ideally it should be incorporated naturally into the customer experience, rather than requiring the customer to go out of their way to provide feedback. This will hopefully improve your response rate, and with a higher response rate comes a higher sample size which will give you more accurate conclusions when interpreting your customer feedback data.
2. Analyse feedback data
Note that while there are some tools for collecting feedback that will come with built-in analysis tools for understanding your data, it’s still a good idea to look at the data yourself and draw your own conclusions as well.
While the specifics of analysing data will depend on the type of feedback, you’ll usually be looking for the same thing to draw your conclusions from: any patterns or groups of similar answers. Shared experiences from multiple customers suggest that the area their feedback covers stands out to a good number of potential future leads, whether this is something bad that needs to be improved upon or something good you can highlight as a key strength/differentiator.
Analysing feedback is essential in part because it makes it easy to see who the data should be presented to. Comments about a high response time for the company website, for example, should be directed towards the web development team, while product instructions that are difficult to interpret goes to the content creators. Generally, data can be split into groups of product feedback, customer service feedback, and marketing or sales feedback.
3. Apply feedback and start testing
Now that you have your feedback, and you’ve understood what it’s trying to tell you, it’s time to begin feeling out potential solutions to decide what your future course of action should be. A/B testing is a popular testing method to compare and contrast two different solutions to the same problem, and is frequently used for things like packaging redesign. Meanwhile, technical changes to online content will be handled by other testing methods, as either the code works as it’s supposed to or it doesn’t.
Because you want to make the best use of the feedback you get, communicating with the relevant teams on how often they want feedback is very important. Properly responding to feedback takes time and resources, and changing too many things at once makes it difficult to see if your changes in a particular area actually had any impact. Try to instead focus on one or two changes at a time, as this will also ensure you achieve success in the fourth and final stage of the customer feedback loop.
4. Follow up with customers
Don’t just make changes based on your feedback and let things end there. Instead of calling it a day, call your customers. Send them a personalised message. Take the time to let them know that their feedback was greatly appreciated, and invite them to come and see the improvements you’ve made thanks to their help. Making the customer feel valued encourages them to both do business with you and give additional feedback in the future, both of which many businesses would consider a positive outcome.
There’s another bonus incentive to follow up with your customers as well. If their feedback was initially negative, you can ask them to update a negative review they left for your company and put a new positive spin on it. Plus, now that your customer is satisfied, you can also ask for permission to quote the kind words they’ve given you as an outside perspective that will improve the trustworthiness of your business for future leads.
Just remember, while you shouldn’t sacrifice too much quality, getting back to the customer in a timely manner is vital. Otherwise, what will they care if you fixed an issue they had with your company that they can no longer even remember?
Six types of customer feedback
With the ‘how’ of customer feedback now established using the customer feedback loop, it’s time to move onto the ‘what’. Here are the six types of customer feedback we recommend you put to use based on how easy they are to obtain and analyse, in addition to how useful the data you gather will be for making improvements.
1. Customer loyalty metrics
Customer loyalty refers to the two-way relationship between customer and business. Greater customer loyalty is a boon for both parties, as while the business may provide the customer with deals or positive experiences that continue to grow the longer the customer stays interested, the customer returns these gestures with repeat purchases or subscriptions. A loyal customer will spend much more than a regular customer, and it is almost always cheaper to keep an existing customer than it is to find a new one.
So how should you measure customer loyalty? This is typically done using surveys with set measurements like the Net Promoter Score (NPS), which asks the customer a single question: “How likely are you to recommend [organisation/product/service] to a friend?” The answer to this is given as a score of 1-10, splitting customers into three groups: the promoters (9-10), the passives (7-8), and the detractors (1-6).
CSAT score (customer satisfaction score) may also be used, though it is not as useful as NPS since its responses are in the form of general terms like ‘satisfied’ or ‘neutral’ rather than a numerical value.
2. Customer satisfaction feedback
Customer satisfaction describes how satisfied customers are with the products, services, or general interactions they have experienced with your business. This means the customer’s answer may describe the practical side of your business, or they may choose to talk about their emotional journey with you instead.
To measure customer satisfaction, it’s often recommended to use a method of gathering data that allows for the customer to give somewhat open-ended answers and add detail to their responses, such as social media comment sections or written forms.
3. Sales feedback
As the name suggests, sales feedback is focused primarily on the sales team and the customer’s journey through the different stages of the buying process. Sales feedback is generally collected with the goal of helping to connect with leads or visitors and understand their decision making, whether they actually chose to purchase anything or not, as this allows the sales team to recognise the needs of the customer as quickly as possible.
To gather sales feedback, surveys are sent out to people who either purchased a product/service or lingered on the company website but chose not to buy (for the latter, you may need to make sure that your web development team is able to track which pages of your website users travel to and how long they stayed on them).
4. Customer service feedback
What could be more useful than gathering customer feedback for your business’ customer service, the safety net customers use when your other existing services have failed them? For this one, keep in mind that while sales feedback will almost always be directed towards the sales team, customer service feedback can also flag areas that other teams need to look at, such as a product that frequently receives reports for malfunctioning.
Surveys conducted via email or phone are best for this feedback, either tagged on to the end of the customer service process or sent along later once the existing problem has been solved (depending on how frustrated the customer was at the time). You can also track customer support tickets to find out who is available to give customer service feedback.
5. Customer preference feedback.
The purpose of customer preference feedback is to understand which products and services customers tend to prefer in your industry, whether they are your own or belong to your competitors. This type of feedback is excellent for understanding your company’s position in the market, allowing you to make informed decisions on how to differentiate your business and stand out.
The best ways to gather data for customer preference feedback are to browse online forums or social media, create a focus group, or monitor purchase activity. For the first method, take online comments with a grain of salt, as they may be exaggerated for comedic effect.
6. Demographic feedback
Demographic feedback covers a range of details that provide more information about your customers. This can be anything from location, gender, education, income, etc. The primary function of demographic information is to allow businesses to make the best possible choices when deciding on how to position and advertise its products or services in the future to best match their current clientele.
Demographic information can be obtained by using website pop-up forms or sending post-purchase surveys to customers.
If there’s one thing you should take from this blog, it’s that customer feedback is an excellent tool for any business, as long as it’s used for a specific goal. To get the most out of customer feedback, you’ll need to know what you want feedback on, how you’re going to get it, and how you’ll turn the feedback into positive changes. Figure those three things out, and the potential reward for business growth is limitless.
Do you find yourself stuck when trying to answer those questions? Or did you believe you had everything figured out, only to find the gains of your customer feedback endeavours fail to match up to all the effort you’ve put in? Luckily, Loved Brands excels at coming up with a marketing strategy to make the most of any business, so call us today for extensive guidance for how you can collect and make use of customer feedback that’s guaranteed to turn your business into a loved brand.
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