No matter your business, you must have products or services that solve your customers’ challenges, craft marketing messages that resonate with your ideal audiences, and deliver a satisfactory customer experience. But all these are easier said than done — what exactly are your customers thinking, and what do they want?
Luckily, you don’t need a crystal ball to find the answers. Customer feedback can help you unlock business success with an in-depth understanding of the market landscape and customer demands.
Let’s explore the five ways to monitor customer feedback, how the input can benefit your brand, and the three key steps to get the most out of these customer comments.
Customer feedback is verbal or written comments from your customers about their experience with your brand, products, or services. It can be positive, negative, or neutral and is shared through interviews, surveys, social media, emails, focus groups, and more.
Customer feedback can help you understand buyers’ demands to improve your products and services. As 82% of consumers expect retailers to accommodate their preferences, the insights can give you a competitive edge.
You can identify your strength, shape your unique selling proposition, and refine your target audience. You can also leverage the learnings to address customer issues, reduce churn, and improve customer satisfaction to increase customer loyalty and profits.
With 98% of consumers using online reviews to support their decision-making and 82% trusting customer opinions over what brands say, sharing customer feedback on your website and social media can help you build trust with shoppers and drive sales.
There are various ways to collect customer feedback — some can help you gain a bird’s-eye view, while others allow you to get in-depth insights.
You can create an online survey using tools such as SurveyMonkey, Typeform, or Zoho Survey and send the link to your customers (e.g., via email, social media, or chat.) You may also ask the questions in person or over the phone.
This method allows you to reach many people simultaneously at a relatively low cost. Since these surveys are typically brief, people are likely to complete them. They’re also versatile — you can use surveys to gather a broad range of data, including demographic information, product ratings, customer satisfaction levels, and more.
However, you must be aware of the balance between getting more feedback and gaining in-depth insights. Keeping the survey short and sweet will likely generate more responses. Still, the volume often comes at the expense of granularity and nuances you can only learn from in-depth conversations.
You can ask customers to send feedback to you via email, fill out a form in-store, or post reviews on your website and third-party review sites (e.g., Yelp.) You can use a website archive tool like urlbox to keep a record of all the feedback.
This method helps you kill two birds with one stone: You can learn about customers’ opinions while leveraging the reviews to build trust and drive sales. Responding to posts on review sites also shows that your brand cares about its customers, which can help build trust with prospects.
On the flip side, if you don’t have the resources to monitor all the channels and leave negative comments unaddressed, they could fester and damage your reputation. Also, you have less control over what people post and how the content is perceived.
These one-to-one and one-to-few methods allow you to collect in-depth feedback in person, over the phone, or via video calls. You can ask customers open-ended questions and have dialogues to understand the nuances of their answers. Additionally, focus groups help you get different perspectives and observe how customers interact with each other.
Focus groups can be costly, while the one-on-one nature of interviews often limits the number of customers you interact with. These constraints may lead to a narrower range of opinions because customers willing to participate in these conversations most likely already have a positive relationship with your brand.
As the saying goes, never let a good crisis go to waste. Even when customers leave your brand, you can gain insights from their decision to improve your products and services.
Exit interviews help you understand why customers decide to stop buying from you. A one-on-one conversation allows you to gain in-depth insights, while a short customer cancellation/churn survey can help you understand broad-stroke trends and sentiments.
Meet your fans and customers where they are on various social media channels. You can ask for feedback and reviews on your social media pages or in customer service messages at scale.
This method fosters two-way conversations with your followers and nurtures relationships while helping you learn about customer preferences. Like third-party sites, you should promptly respond to comments and answer questions to create a positive impression.
Besides allocating resources to monitor various social media platforms, you should use a social media archive tool to keep records of these comments to protect your brand against lawsuits, stay compliant with public record laws, and analyze data to identify trends.
Collecting, analyzing, and responding to customer feedback is extra work. Why should you care?
Customer feedback gives you critical insights you can’t get anywhere else by directly answering the question, “What do your customers want?” The learnings can help you focus your resources on making meaningful progress and foster effective cross-functional collaboration.
You can use the findings to identify trends, inform product development, understand your strengths and areas for improvement, learn about your ideal customers, improve customer service, and craft marketing messages that resonate with the right audience.
Meanwhile, listening and responding to your customers helps you nurture relationships, build trust with your fans and followers, make them feel heard, and enhance your reputation as a customer-centric brand.
Additionally, you can identify where customers may have the most challenges making purchasing decisions, using your products, getting support, or interacting with your brand. You can address the issues by creating self-service content, improving website flow, and adjusting product design to augment the customer experience.
The bottom line? Gathering and responding to customer feedback can help you boost customer satisfaction, improve customer retention, allocate your resources strategically, drive more sales, and increase profits.
Let’s break down the customer feedback process into three main steps and see how you can get the most out of them:
People prefer to share their thoughts via different channels, so you should use various touchpoints to collect feedback. These include online or paper surveys, social media, email, phone or video calls, and in-person interviews.
Craft specific and clear questions to elicit actionable feedback. For example, instead of asking, “What do you think about this product?” you may ask, “Does this product help you do XYZ? If not, what changes can we make to help you achieve your goals?”
You can also get more people to respond to your survey and provide feedback by incentivizing your customers. Offer discounts or loyalty points, enter them into a draw, or send them a small gift. Of course, don’t forget to thank them for their time.
To generate meaningful insights from customer feedback, you must organize the input, understand patterns, identify areas for improvement, and prioritize the issues.
Categorize feedback with sentiment analysis, topic modeling, keyword analysis, etc. Then, look for trends and patterns. For example, you may realize that customers from a specific demographic are more likely to have difficulty using a feature, or a business area (e.g., post-purchase customer care) receives more negative feedback.
With these insights, you can identify and prioritize areas for improvement to focus your resources on issues most important for your customers.
Thank your customers and respond to their comments. The gesture shows that you value their opinions and prioritize their needs. Send a thank you note, provide a refund (if the customer complains about a product,) or acknowledge their input when you release an improved product based on their feedback.
Your responses should be timely, sincere, and specific. Customers want to know that you aren’t just trying to placate them but have plans to address their concerns. Also, respond with a positive tone — you may not be able to fix every problem, but you can try to improve the situation and win hearts and minds.
Customer feedback allows you to establish two-way conversations with your audience to improve your products and services, augment your brand reputation, and deliver a converting customer experience.
So how do you know your efforts are paying off?
Customer feedback is a treasure trove of insights — are you ready to leverage them strategically to build a customer-centric brand?