The unfortunate truth is that many new businesses will fail this year. For a significant portion, the reasons will lie not in market saturation or faulty business models but rather in owners who don’t consider customer feedback a compass toward better decisions. They think only from the perspective of a founder without focusing much on the experiences of real paying customers.
On the other hand, successful businesses know the importance of customer feedback, but some still struggle to gather it.
That’s why, in this article, we’ve decided to outline and discuss seven of the best ways to do just this. Let’s start with the essentials.
Why Does Your Business Need to Collect Customer Feedback?
Metrics are great for understanding the interests and reactions of your audience, but they’re still just numbers. The reasons that led to those metrics could easily be the result of factors that weren’t directly related to how customers received your product or service.
Instead of blindly assuming your Google Analytics results have all the answers, why don’t you give customers the chance to communicate feedback in their own words? Here are seven reasons why brands should take feedback collection seriously.
- Truly improved products and services. One of the most memorable examples is the launch of a reimagined soft drink known as New Coke. The Coca-Cola brand granted little importance to surveying its customers, relying only on its metrics instead. As a result, the release led to a sales disaster, which forced the brand to return to its classic cola formula.
- Scalable satisfaction. Sales numbers can be good indicators of your success, but without learning what exactly the customers liked about the product or service, it’ll be hard to scale it. Learning directly from real customers what particular features make you different from your competitors avoids guesswork and helps you outline meaningful updates and improvements.
- Stronger customer relationships. As buyers, it feels good to be asked what we want to be different in an offer. Even if you simply make an Excel form for your customers to fill out and send back with their responses, it’ll be enough to make them feel important. However, if you request their feedback harshly, it can turn around and paint you as annoying, so don’t be too pushy.
- Easier customer retention. Brands that consider their customers mere numbers might lose their customer base quickly and go out of business. On the other hand, those that treat them genuinely and listen to their feedback build lasting relationships. Clients who feel heard and cared for will justify price increases just to keep receiving your products or services, making customer retention much easier.
- More new customers. Word of mouth travels quickly, and if the talk is positive, new customers will want to join the satisfied buyers. Most people won’t make a purchase without checking online reviews, so displaying honest positive feedback is likely to attract more customers.
- Well-informed customers. Maybe you’ve stated all the steps on how to use your product or service in your brochures, but the firsthand experiences of your customers are valuable for specific cases you might not have covered. People will be browsing for extra information, and discovering that another real person has used this product in similar circumstances will make it easier for them to do so too.
- Smarter decisions. When businesses take the time to talk to customers, they receive feedback that can be leveraged to make better-calculated decisions in every aspect. Customer feedback helps you improve your offers and acquire new customers without drastically losing revenue or testing offers that are likely to flop.
- Customer Service Outsourcing. Customer service outsourcing is a way of providing customer service without needing an in-house team. Outsourcing can be a cost-effective solution for many companies, and it can also help them to focus on their core business. It is important to note that outsourcing customer service does not mean the company will lose control of its customer experience. They can still have a say in what happens and how it happens, but they will have to work with a third party instead of doing everything themselves.
After learning about the benefits of collecting customer feedback, let’s explore some of the best non-annoying ways to do it.
The Seven Best Ways to Obtain Customer Feedback
Customers feel valued when a company listens to their feedback. Research from American Express signifies that they are willing to pay 17% more for those businesses providing excellent customer service.
However, they prefer to give feedback through different channels, such as email (62%), phone calls (48%), live chatting (42%), online forms (36%), etc. Seven of the most popular ways to request feedback include:
1. Long Form-Based Surveys
Surveys are probably the first method that comes to your mind when thinking about customer feedback. Long form-based surveys can easily be built with tools like SurveyMonkey, and they allow you to ask customers questions about their experiences using your product.
Don’t overdo it by asking too many questions or requiring ultra-detailed answers. Ten is the maximum appropriate number of questions for a survey that generates satisfactory results.
2. Short In-App Surveys
Apps need constant improvement too. If your customers use an application for your services, that’s the best place to show short surveys and gather feedback about their experiences. In-app surveys can be made mandatory by interrupting the user experience and offering small rewards to incentivize customers.
You can present these surveys at any time, but the most optimal moments are precisely after implementing a new feature. Customers will be fresh with either satisfaction or frustration, and it’s best to capture that reaction before it’s gone because it’ll be an honest one.
3. Feedback Button
Don’t underrate the use of a built-in feedback button that pops up on the side of a webpage. It’s one of the best ways to lure your customers into leaving feedback because it resembles a feature, and when one is navigating a website, they want to check all the features.
Plus, in most cases, when customers are searching for information, they’re likely to visit your webpage, and if the feedback button shows up there, they’re likely to express what they are struggling to find. Written feedback is more useful for certain products compared to the verbal feedback you can get by recording phone calls and studying them.
4. Phone Calls
Verbal feedback is the most authentic type of feedback, but it’s also the hardest to get without appearing intrusive. That’s because the traditional way of gathering such feedback is through phone calls, which may easily annoy customers (especially those who receive promotional calls from other businesses on a daily basis).
However, when you manage to get in touch with customers who use your product and care about improvements, they’re likely to listen to what you have to say. As long as you minimize their waiting time during a call (call-routing software helps), ask genuinely without sounding like a sales agent, and call during an appropriate time, you’ll get results.
5. Reach Out Directly
In-person meetups with your customers take more time compared to other methods, but they show a different level of attention to your customers, prompting them to give useful and real feedback. Not every company performs direct surveys on their user base, and that’s what will make them feel different and special.
When you reach out directly to your customers, the feedback you’ll gather is much more useful and close to the truth because you can verify it by seeing their facial expressions and body language. For instance, you will notice whether your product is truly sophisticated or the clients lack general knowledge that makes it challenging for them to use it.
6. User Activity
Most of the time, you can gather feedback without asking for it if you’ve put your brand in the middle of an audience of users. Social media offers just this. By monitoring your user activity, you’ll see how customers express their opinions in comment sections or by messaging. If you’re using social media to gather feedback, a messenger app for Windows makes it easier.
Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter may be the first contact point your customers recall when they want to complain about an issue or express their concerns about a feature. From there, you can either send them to complete more detailed survey templates about their experiences or gather their feedback on the spot.
7. Usability Tests
The first-time impression and usability of your product from an inexperienced user provide plenty of useful feedback you can act on. That’s because they show whether the product is easy to navigate intuitively or needs extra guidance materials. At this point, it’s important to pick users who match your ideal customers for relatable feedback.
Such tests are usually distributed to independent platforms that employ experienced testers, but you can ask them to pick users with the features of your ideal customers. They’re quick at immediately identifying which features are worth keeping.
When you’re not fully sure about the implementation of a new feature, or you want to maximize the ROI of your investments, collecting customer feedback should be one of your main priorities. Whether you decide to use phone calls, surveys, feedback buttons, or usability tests, reach out directly, or monitor user activity on social media, respect your customers’ time, and they’ll help make your brand better.
Andrej Fedek is a digital marketer. He recently started his own blog about digital marketing called InterCool Studio. His passion is to help startups grow and thrive in a competitive environment.