Who first comes to mind when you consider the most valuable voices in your business?
Perhaps you think of the CEO or COO, or other C-Suite leadership.
Perhaps it’s a particularly effective visionary among your management staff.
Perhaps you consider your on-the-ground employees the foundation of your vision.
But what about your customers? How valuable are their voices to your business?
Some of the most valuable businesses today—think Apple, Amazon, Starbucks—have implemented a customer-centric business model that places the customer at the heart of all business decisions, product design, services and direction. A customer-centric model is not only valuable for the customer, but also deeply profitable for the business.
And at the heart of such a model is customer feedback.
Customer feedback allows your customers to provide feedback not only on the quality of your service or products, but also insight on their experiences, needs and preferences, and suggestions for business direction, new products, and more.
But why exactly is customer feedback so essential, and how do you do it well? This article will dive into both of these questions so that you can:
- understand why customer feedback matters for your business
- assess what types of customer feedback you need and what benefits those can provide
- effectively gather, analyze and use customer feedback
Why is Customer Feedback So Valuable?
You may have a good idea of what your customers want and how they feel—but it’s infinitely more valuable to hear it directly from them.
Customer feedback has a number of benefits, including:
- building trust with customers
- clarifying brand direction and understanding key business insights
- developing a more customer-centric brand
- allowing you to identify key product and service-related areas to improve, leading to:
- increased customer satisfaction and loyalty
- improved customer retention
- strengthened credibility and affinity
and more! When you gather and implement customer feedback, you can improve all aspects of your business, from the product or service offerings to customer support, UX and more. All of this has wide-reaching, positive implications on your customer satisfaction, loyalty, retention and CLV.
Consider the data:
- 68% of customers will pay more for products and services from companies who are known to offer positive customer service experiences.
- 62% of customers have stopped purchasing from a brand after a negative customer service experience.
- Businesses who increase customer retention rates by 5% can improve profits by 25% – 75%.
- 52% of customers will “go out of their way” to purchase from a brand they’re loyal to.
Loyalty and retention not only increase customer lifetime value, but also improve profitability and word-of-mouth marketing, as loyal customers tend to refer more customers to your brand. But how do you create that loyalty and retention? Through great customer service and customer-centric business decisions.
And how do you create excellent customer service and a business that considers the customer at every step?
There’s simply no better way to understand your customers than to regularly talk to them, get their feedback and implement their preferences and insights. Of course, in order to get actionable insights, you need to regularly and effectively gather and analyze customer feedback. In the next sections, we’ll show you how to do so.
Tips For Gathering Customer Feedback
Using a variety of customer feedback methods can net you more comprehensive and valuable feedback. Some of the various customer feedback methods you can try:
Surveys and polls. Surveys and polls are one of the most versatile types of customer feedback strategies. They can be short or long, qualitative or quantitative (or both!), hosted on your website or in-app or distributed externally. In-app or on-site surveys can be managed via behavioral triggers, allowing you to prompt customers to respond to a survey or poll after specific actions, thus gathering detailed data on specific areas of your service or CX.
CSAT & NPS surveys. Measuring specific metrics like CSAT and NPS is also done through quick surveys, and gives you valuable, quantitative customer feedback that you can track over time to understand trends. While CSAT surveys are generally one-question responses that are prompted by a service request, NPS surveys may have several questions and focus on the broader customer experience.
Customer interviews. Speaking to your customers one-on-one or in small groups is an effective way to gather more in-depth qualitative data. These are particularly useful for understanding larger trends, strengthening customer personas or audience research, or getting feedback on new products or services.
Monitoring social media and online reviews. Not all customer feedback has to be directly solicited—in fact, sometimes you can get the best data from understanding what customers are saying “when you’re not in the room.” Online reviews can be analyzed to highlight trends in product concerns, service levels or overall customer experience. Brand monitoring software can help you understand general customer sentiment across the internet. In addition, social media can also be used to conduct informal surveys and polls, such as through Instagram Stories or Twitter’s poll features.
Use technology to collect reviews. Of course, sometimes you do need to solicit feedback directly, and today, there’s ample technological solutions to help you do so. Live chat or website pop-ups, email surveys and automated post-service surveys can all be automated through survey software that will help you design, implement, run and analyze customer feedback surveys.
Leverage an outsourced contact center. Outsourcing can allow you to increase your customer feedback efforts. From designing and implementing surveys, managing technology and brand monitoring, analyzing data and creating actionable insights, running customer interviews and more, an outsourced team can add necessary resources and expertise to make gathering customer feedback much easier and more effective.
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How To Analyze and Use Customer Feedback
Of course, gathering the customer feedback is only half of the job—in order to make that feedback valuable, it has to be analyzed and integrated into your systems, processes and business decisions. Here’s seven tactics for doing so effectively, from our team of customer experience experts:
Organizing and Prioritizing Customer Feedback
Before you can implement customer feedback, you need to organize the feedback you’ve gathered and prioritize it effectively.
The most important element of this is having all of your data in one place. Sounds obvious, but it’s actually a major hurdle many companies face as their data is spread out amongst various spreadsheets, databases, forms and software dashboards.
However, in order to accurately analyze your data and understand trends, you need to have a single source of truth that collates all of your customer feedback. There are many software solutions that can help with this, and an outsourced team can help as well. When you outsource your customer surveys and feedback, you can make sure you’ll get access to an organized database of all the data, making it easier to skip right to analysis and implementation.
You may also want to organize by types of feedback, i.e. service feedback, product concerns, customer segment, marketing and sales feedback, etc. In doing so, you make it easier for relevant feedback to be shared efficiently amongst the appropriate teams, speeding the amount of time between feedback analysis and implementation.
Once your data is organized, you’ll want to start by prioritizing the feedback and understanding the urgency of different results. Of course, prioritizing low-hanging fruit is an effective way to get the ball rolling, but you also want to prioritize any major concerns, common problems and key trends that could undermine your business.
Using Data Analytics and Reporting to Identify Trends and Opportunities
Data analytics tools are essential at this stage, as they can help you clearly identify trends and opportunities.
For example, if you collect benchmark data for key metrics, like CSAT and NPS, you can analyze trends over time. How does CSAT change through busier or slower periods? How did the new product launch in July affect NPS? Has CSAT improved since implementing new quality assurance processes for your call center?
Data analytics tools can also allow you to report on large subsets of data, tracking trends over time as well as between customer segments, alongside other reporting or business impact of various decisions.
Responding to Customer Feedback Effectively
Once you receive customer feedback, you need to find effective ways to respond to relevant feedback. While you don’t need to respond to each piece of feedback individually, it is a good idea to respond to three types of feedback:
- Survey responses, generally. If you’ve sent out a direct customer survey, best practice is to send a general “thank you” email or response to customers who responded to your survey. Enclosing a small reward or token of appreciation, such as a store coupon or freebie, is also a good idea.
- Negative feedback, individually. Negative feedback and complaints need to be addressed promptly and professionally, especially if they happen in a public space. Provide additional support for the unhappy customer or direct them to appropriate channels to get help with their concern, and take action to resolve the situation whenever possible. Turning negative experiences into positive ones is an effective way to improve loyalty and increase NPS scores, as well as portray a positive brand image to the general public.
- Positive feedback, whenever possible. When possible, showing appreciation for positive feedback and reviews creates customer loyalty and helps customers feel seen and valued.
Incorporating Customer Feedback into Business Strategy and Decision-Making
Once your feedback has been organized and analyzed, be sure to share that feedback with the appropriate teams and agents. In order for customer feedback to become a meaningful part of your business strategy, it needs to be shared widely and regularly.
In addition, customer feedback should be incorporated into business strategy, roadmaps and decision-making processes. To create a customer-centric business, you need to follow the customer—don’t drag them along hoping they’ll endure whatever decisions you make! Instead, make customer feedback an essential part of your process for developing new products, adjusting service and determining business direction, and you’ll be rewarded with excellent product-market fit and brand loyalty.
Communicating Improvements Based on Customer Feedback
As you communicate customer feedback internally to make decisions, you should also communicate the decisions you’ve made based on customer feedback back to the customer.
Showing customers how you’re implementing their feedback doesn’t only give them a better product, but it also demonstrates that you’re serious about meeting their needs and preferences. Not to mention that customers tend to be more inclined to provide feedback and participate in surveys in the future if they believe their voice is being heard—according to some surveys, 53% of customers don’t believe feedback goes to anyone who can make a difference!
Implement changes quickly, and then communicate directly to customers what was changed as a result of their feedback—and perhaps solicit more feedback in return. Customers will respond to your willingness to listen and respond to their needs with their loyalty and affinity for your brand.
Emphasizing Continuous Improvement and Innovation
Finally, don’t make customer feedback something you check off a list once and consider finished. Gathering, analyzing and implementing customer feedback should be an ongoing process that results in continuous improvement and implementation.
As a result, you should regularly assess the effectiveness of your customer feedback processes:
- What areas of your business need improvement and could benefit from focused customer feedback?
- What types of feedback do you currently need?
- How can you best gather, organize and collect your customer feedback data?
- Which pieces of your decision-making processes could benefit from more customer input?
- How effective is the feedback you’re currently getting, and how might you improve that?
You should also encourage employee participation and engagement in customer feedback initiatives. If you make customer feedback a regular and important part of your roadmap and business initiatives, employees will come to see it as a meaningful business practice. Giving them opportunities to be involved, provide feedback on the process, and implement customer feedback into their own work and responsibilities will continue to improve your process and results.
How to Start Implementing Customer Feedback Processes Today
So, how do you start implementing these processes effectively at your company?
Start by considering the following questions:
- What results do we want to achieve with gathering customer feedback?
- What types of feedback or analysis will help us achieve those goals?
- What processes and decisions could be improved with more customer insight?
- How much time and resources do we have to dedicate to this initiative? Do we need to hire or outsource additional resources to ensure success?
- What tools and customer feedback sources do we already have available? What new tools or processes need to be implemented to get the results we’re looking for?
These questions, among others, will help you decide how to design and implement a process that is both effective and efficient for meeting your needs and goals.
Of course, keep in mind that you don’t have to tackle all of this internally—partnering with a team of outsourced experts, like the teams at Global Response, can provide the resources, expertise, strategy, execution or technology you need to fill in the gaps in your internal team and make your customer feedback processes effective.
At Global Response, we have over 40 years of experience in CX and have helped companies scale customer feedback processes, design and implement customer surveys, analyze and implement customer data and more.
Curious how an outsourced team can help you design and implement effective customer feedback processes? Connect with a Global Response expert today and let us show you how we can help achieve your goals.