“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”

 - Bill Gates, Co-Founder of Microsoft

Now more than ever, businesses need to be proficient in obtaining customer feedback. Feedback can help you identify and understand gaps across your business, and influence the change necessary to improve these products, services, or operations. It’s an important tool for understanding customer needs and for ensuring customer satisfaction.

You might think you know your product inside and out, but your experience won’t be the same as your customers' experience. However, obtaining customer feedback isn’t always easy or straightforward.  Especially since not every customer’s willing to spend time filling out a survey.

In this article, we’re going to take a deep dive into the world of customer feedback, specifically:

Let’s dig in, shall we?

Why is customer feedback so important?

Whatever field or industry you’re in, getting feedback on your performance is a vital part of your personal and professional progression. Whether that’s from a colleague, line manager or customer, receiving an assessment of your work is a clear indicator of what’s going right, what you need to improve upon, and what to stop doing immediately to avoid negative results.

Essentially, customer feedback gathers direct observations from customers on their experience with your products, their experience working with your company or programs, etc.

Customer feedback is the bedrock of customer success. With a successful process for collecting feedback, you can elevate both your product and your customer’s experience. Without it, the longevity of your product and the quality of your customer’s experience will suffer.

For a business function like customer success, a strategy so deeply intertwined with your customers’ positive outcomes, relying on customer feedback isn’t just part of the job – it is the job. But collecting customer feedback doesn’t necessarily have to be obtained via the old-age ‘ask-and-receive’ method. Far from it.

In fact, this is what sets customer success apart from customer support, and other traditionally reactive forms of customer relationship management. You can be more inventive in obtaining feedback from your customers.

Customer feedback might seem like just another step in the post-sales process, but it’s actually what propels the entire customer ecosystem. Without finding out what drives satisfied customers, you won’t inspire customer loyalty, and will never produce raving customer advocates.

What can you do with customer feedback?

Before you say ‘just implement it’, let’s remind ourselves that customer feedback – and communication in general – isn’t a one-way street. You need to really engage with what your customers are telling you.

More and more brands are recognizing that customer-centricity works. But the problem with a lot of these brands is the sincerity of their customer-centricity. Without genuinely listening and engaging with your customer feedback makes the whole process redundant and kind of performative.

Perform deep listening

Before you even start deciding what types of feedback you’re going to collect, you first need to remember to practice deep listening. Deep listening is a unique way of contracting feedback by listening to learn. To practice it, you need to focus exclusively on the customer with a genuine willingness to receive information, regardless of whether it’s pleasant or unpleasant. Deep listening is without judgment. By performing deep listening when reading or listening to your customers’ insights, no matter what the outcome.

Share your feedback immediately

There’s literally no point in taking the time and effort – on your part, and the customer’s – to collect feedback if you’re not going to do anything with it.

The first department you should share your customer feedback with is your product team, specifically your product developers. Customer gripes with product bugs, or what features don’t work are exactly the type of insights needed to continuously improve your product.

Many companies teach their customers how to report product bugs via their support features during the onboarding period. In many cases, these get diverted directly to the product team.

The complete guide to customer support, success and product development
“Just input the API key into the POST API field, delete all of the HTML lines above it, and hit refresh,” the support agent said.“Excuse me, W H A T?” I hollered into the phone. Doesn’t that sound like every customer service call EVER?

Close the feedback loop with customers

One of the most important steps in customer feedback is to close the feedback loop. But what does this mean?  

Well, whenever a customer has raised a query or a complaint, you should make sure your team looks into the customer’s case and resolves it quickly, turning the customer from a detractor into a promoter. If you leave a customer’s complaint unanswered, you only enhance the chances of them becoming disgruntled with your service and run the risk of canceling their subscription.    

What are the different ways to collect customer feedback?

There are multiple ways to obtain customer feedback, all of which provide invaluable perspectives. There are direct and indirect ways to acquire customer insights.  

Direct 🎯 Indirect 🍃
  • Surveys
  • Calls
  • Online reviews
  • Social media
  • Online communities
  • Customer support tickets

Customer feedback surveys  

You can leverage surveys for a lot of different reasons, including gathering product feedback, customer experience feedback, and even transactional feedback like quarterly business reviews (QBRs), end-of-sales or renewal cycles, and support escalations.  

This also helps you get a real-time 360˚ view of the customer account ahead of a renewal conversation since the customers might reveal direct insights that can influence your approach to mitigating churn.

Depending on the type of customer segment, you might want to avoid eliciting qualitative answers, which take up more of the customers’ time. A reduced survey completion time with multiple choice answers will mean the customer is more likely to engage with your brand in the future and avoids the customer from feeling bogged down with producing time-consuming lengthy answers.  

Not all processes for obtaining customer feedback will work for every company. For lots of organizations, email communication should be limited for important launches.

Trying to evoke engagement from an email survey can sometimes feel like pulling teeth!

Why? Because most people receive so many emails on a daily basis that it gets forgotten about, or often it’s not enough data to go on.

Net Promoter Score

There are a lot of ways you could run customer feedback surveys, and the most popular version of a survey that's used today is Net Promoter Score (NPS).

NPS basically answers one single question designed to measure loyalty, overall satisfaction, and likeliness to renew or stay engaged across a 0 to 100 scale. It's broken across three areas:

  • Detractors (0 - 6)
  • Passes (7 - 8)
  • Promoters (9 - 10)

The ‘detractors’ are very likely to churn, so if your customers are scoring less than six in your NPS survey, you’ll want to enact your churn mitigation plans as soon as possible. For the ‘passes’, you’ll want to keep an eye on these customers as they could turn either way. The promoters are your ideal customers, they’re the ones who are clearly engaging with your product.

How frequently should you collect feedback surveys?

Customer feedback should be collected regularly to show your customers you value their input and care about their welfare. However, you shouldn’t ask for feedback too often or you’ll run the risk of harassing your customer base. A good rule of thumb for any product or service is to offer an in-app pop-up asking to rate your brand out of 10. This can be scheduled after months one, three and six of using your product.

If anything is lower than three to four, you should get in contact with that customer immediately to prevent their likely churn. For a score as high as nine to 10, use that as an opportunity to push for future reviews.

💡 Pro tips 💡

  • Always use neutral language in your survey questions
  • Only ask questions that help you meet your goals
  • Avoid personal questions
  • Create consistent rating scales
  • Consider offering incentives
Using customer feedback and win-loss interviews to improve your product
Customer feedback and win-loss interviews are among the most effective ways to gain a firm understanding of how your product has been received, and how you can make changes, where needed.

Online reviews

As we mentioned before, asking your promoter customers to leave online reviews is a shoo-in to enhance your brand’s online presence and sets you apart from your competitors. You can use platforms like G2, Trustpilot, Gartner, Forrester, GetApp and many more, to curate your online reviews.

Although you won’t do this, it’s wise not to lead any of your detractor customers to provide online reviews. If there’s an issue they’re unhappy with, or you think they could review you negatively, you don’t want them to review your company publicly. Try to resolve the issue and turn them into a promoter, and then invite them for an online review.

Social media

We live in an increasingly digital age, and a huge part of that includes social media. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are popular hubs of communication where people can air their thoughts and criticism of nearly everything and anything – including your product.

Every customer success team should keep an eye on their social media accounts and monitor their product’s name to make sure the flow of conversation is positive. All it takes is for one negative review to pop, and if left unresolved, it can snowball into multiple bad reviews.

The poor reviews you do find on social media can be fed back to your product development team. Traditionally, it has been tricky to integrate these comments and inquiries into your CRM, which is why it’s important to choose a CRM platform that enables you to track and record social integrations in the same way as sales inquiries.

Analytics

Customer feedback doesn’t always have to happen by picking up the phone or sending an email. You can measure your customers’ on-site activity via analytics to see what aspects of the product appear to be working, and what aren’t.

You can use heatmaps to find out which features of your product are being used the most, and which parts are being neglected. If certain features aren’t being used, it might be worth checking with your product team to investigate any potential bugs that might be affecting its functionality.

Customer support tickets

If a business is looking for a cost-effective way to obtain customer feedback that doesn’t require purchasing additional software, you should utilize your existing assets: customer support tickets.

A customer support ticket is any message a customer sends to a company’s help desk, usually regarding a problem or a question they have about a product or service provided by that company. The support ticket is routed to the customer support department where a Customer Support Manager will venture to resolve the issue at hand. The bonus of using existing customer communication as part of your feedback strategy is that it already exists in your CRM, negating the need to reupload or integrate it for logging purposes.

There’s a treasure trove of customer intelligence waiting to be tapped into, all well within your existing system. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 42.2% of CS practitioners claim to work closely with their customer support colleagues, according to the State of Customer Success 2022. 19.8% of surveyed respondents went one step further and claimed that both success and support were one in the same team.

Build an online community

When you think of traditional methods of feedback, the usual suspects that come to mind are surveys sent over email or even over the phone. But the traditional method of ‘ask and you shall receive’ won’t fit in with a lot of modern business models.

If this is the case, you’ll be wanting to know how to get customer feedback online in a new and inventive way. Enter community-led growth.

The experts at Community-Led Alliance have defined CLG perfectly:

Community-led growth, is a strategy that focuses on building a community of customers or users around a brand, product, or service. It typically involves engaging with customers through forums, community platforms, social media, and more, in order to create a sense of belonging and loyalty among community members.”

With a community of engaged and talkative users, there are a lot of raw, unfiltered customer insights to be shared and utilized. Community Managers are the first port of call for anything community-related and spend their days engaging and listening to the members of their online community. They’re brand advocates, a type of spokesperson, whose sole purpose is to create discussions and interest among community members.

This is a goldmine for customer feedback, as the customer insights are coming straight from the horse’s mouth and can be shared immediately with the customer success team.

To wrap up

Feedback is the lifeblood of progression, which is why it’s one of the central tenets of customer success. Without continually seeking customer feedback, you run the risk of alienating your customers and driving them to churn.

Customer feedback should be collected delicately. While it’s important to remember to reach out to your customers regularly for feedback, you shouldn’t do it every single day. That can be construed as harassment and will affect your overall customer satisfaction score (CSAT).

Customer feedback allows customer success teams to understand their customer’s experience on a deeper level, which is critically important for helping customers derive value and reach their goals with your product.