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Hoorah! The million-dollar guide on how to get feedback from customers!

Mathew Maniyamkott

Mathew Maniyamkott

8 min read

Collecting feedback and acting on them wisely is the building stone of any business. No company can flourish without and effective guide established on how to get feedback from customers. Let’s be honest, not many of your customers are enthusiastic about spending time for completing long surveys with repetitive questions. Mundane survey designs and questions would put off anyone.

There are many statistics out there that claim that the feedback system is flawed and ineffective. But you don’t have the luxury to risk it. Customers maketh the company and unless you are a mentalist you don’t have any other option to know your customers’ mind. You cannot, and you shouldn’t implement new strategies or launch new products without knowing whether that is what they want. It would cost you money and reputation.

If you have depended on Google for an answer, you would know that there are at least 10 sites that offer the perfect ways to collect feedback, perfect ways to deploy a survey and so on. There are not many that offer a comprised information that covers every aspect of collecting feedback. And today that concern is coming to an end with us giving you the million-dollar guide on how to get feedback from customers.

Let’s begin…!

Before getting into how to get feedback from customers, let’s answer the question of why we need to get feedback from the customer.

An effective feedback system would tell us which are the reoccurring problems of your product that needs attention. It would tell you where you might be missing out on future potential business and helps you identify where your target audience is heading. This would help you to anticipate your future strategies and redefine your goals. Most importantly feedback lets you identify unhappy and at-risk customers. You would be able to pick up on the slightest changes in their behavioral patterns such as inactivity in your website. You could nudge these churning customers ever so politely and implement customized treatment to reign them back into your zone.

The aftermath of feedback could be an eyeopener or it could be a pat on your shoulder. It is better in every aspect than blindly signing off projects assuming they are appreciated by your customers. The Technical Assistant Program did a study many years ago which reveals that only 4% of your customers actually voice their dissatisfaction to you, while 96% tell it to their friends and family. And now, the scenario has gotten even worse because of the influence of social media.  The people to whom these bad reviews spread has multiplied because of such platforms. It could completely destroy your company.

“Customer is always right”

Defining the right objective and approach on the right platform can take you a long way when it comes to feedback. You would have definitely come across more than a few methods and they all have endless good reviews and testimonials to back them. You might belong to the bunch that was once burned by these strategies or the bunch that is unsure and doubtful, who is still waiting on the banks to see if the boat really does float. Today we are going to discuss not just how to get feedback from your customers, but also how to do it like a pro.

It is never about what you ask, it is always about how you ask!

1. Customer feedback surveys

Customer surveys are one of the most popular ways to collect feedback. Though it looks easy enough, getting it right is no piece of cake. Online surveys are inexpensive considering many other survey methods, hence the main reason for popularity. It is effective but not perfect. External surveys when compared to internal surveys, has a lower response rate. Combatting low response rate is still a hot topic in all forums. Effective design and apt questions usually help you to overcome this nightmare, which again is not as simple as it sounds. The simplicity and ease of implementing surveys attract many towards it. If you have a very long list of loyal customers as well as potential leads, this would be the best option for you. It can be personalized to an extent and remind them of your presence.

While creating your surveys be sure to have well-defined objectives and a brilliant team to craft the right questions. Like everything great, it should be kept short and sweet.  Be careful not to put words into your survey participants mouth, the questions should put together in such a way that your customers are able to talk about how they really feel and their concerns. Conversational surveys are a great way to go for it. Long surveys are not advised, and studies show higher dropout rates with such survey designs. It is a powerful strategy and if not done the proper way, you would end up with chunks of irrelevant data.

2. Suggestion boxes and comment boxes

The reason for not filling up surveys could range from not having time to seeing the mail too late. Suggestion boxes and comment boxes combat that. Your customers were honestly going to come back and fill it out, alas they forgot. It is a busy world and this strategy helps you run with it. Get your feedback instantly and in real time. It is more than easy to set up virtual suggestion boxes and it would be a great idea to club it with your CRM. Comment boxes at the bottom of particular pages and content can fetch you precise and fresh feedback in no time. These candid feedbacks don’t necessarily demand to monitor and as an added benefit it doesn’t interrupt you, customer, while browsing. You get your information even without having to go through the pain of designing the perfect questions, the embedded on-site widget would do that for you.

3. Customer interviews and focus groups

Not a fan of technology meddling with everything from going shopping to the sheer existence of life? This is the perfect method for you to reach out to your customers directly and add in that human touch. And in this case, if you have the kind of money and time to be invested, this could be a real spinner. This is a great way to gauge things that you just won’t be able to do from an online survey or comment boxes. The non-verbal signs such as body language, facial expressions, the tone of voice etc clarify answers more effectively. This face-to-face time also gives you ample time for in-depth questions.

When you need clarifications and explanations and specific reasons as answers from your customers, this is the way to go. Exploring your users’ habits and buying patterns could even get you a brand-new idea. This also helps you to understand whether they are using the product the right way. They might be complaining about your product being boring and time-consuming because they are unaware of a shortcut available. These kinds of exploratory interviews and focus group discussions would touch upon such issues. Make sure that you select the audience from a wide specter.

Do not let distance hinder you from having such resourceful strategies tried out. You could let the technology meddle a little and share screens online with various programs that are available at your hand tip.

4. Usability tests

Usability tests uncover problems that the customers are struggling with and offer a clear path to make the experience trouble-free. This method delivers valuable insights though it requires more upfront planning. Google uses this method all the time and has been a solid advocate of rapid iteration based on frequent feedback. Many firms like Helpscout conduct usability testing to get the design details or a specific feature by the time it is 90% finished. Well-run tests guarantee the final 10% right. Almost all firms now prefer usability tests for their efficiency and the predictability of the market reach. Though the practice is mostly used by websites and web-based products, the fundamentals are applicable in any business. You could ask your customers to experience the products and note the experience. Seeing the products through a different lens will truly change your perceptions.

5. Social media

Have you searched for your product or company on any social media sites? Do you know for sure what your customers and potential leads think about your company and the product? Like I mentioned before, almost none of your customers would tell it to you directly. Instead, they would be telling it to everybody else except you. You don’t want to be the last person to know the talk of the town. A tight watch on social media would help you to overcome this particular issue. A positive online reputation would make a huge difference. Be it in your sales or feedback response rates.  Make sure that you are listening closely and responding to what is being broadcasted about you online. You can embed this into the CRM you are using and keep a track of your social media channels. This helps you to track your competitors too. This enables you to be on top of your game all the time. You could really gain popularity with how you are utilizing this online space. More than half of the world is online, and it is a perfect opportunity to turn heads into your direction. Like the witty tweets of Wendy’s, you could also entertain your customers wherever they are.

6. Online polls

Online voting polls are an excellent choice to engage your customers. It is short and precise. It gets your answer for a particular question and by looking at the final results you would know which decision favors your company. You are asking your customer’s ideas and opinions through polls. It would be like a mini survey. The tone should be informal, and the subject should be not very complicated. People use social media to relax and a boring survey is a no-no. For example, the question could be about the color they want in your next product or what feature helps them the most.

7. On-site activity

When you are thinking about listening to your customers, do not limit yourself with the obvious surveys and polls. Your customers are giving information without actually telling you.

Candid feedback is the most valuable ones of all and fair enough, they are very hard to garner too. Analytics could tell you how your users are interacting with your site. The cart left without payment and offers not redeemed should get your attention. For example, in a site, thousands of people visit the content to get their doubts clarified or for questions answered. What we should be looking at is the behavior of these visitors. If they have only a 0:10 average on-page time and a below average bounce rate, you can be sure that something is wrong. The content is not being communicated clearly. Users are visiting your site but not many are utilizing it.

Users not signing up or renewing subscription is also a glaring warning. Analyzing such candid feedback could help you to retain your customers much better.

8. Email

Considering that email isn’t public as a survey, sometimes it is the best way to get candid feedback.  Because the method is personal, it can start some interesting conversations with your customers. You could ask about what feature is hard to grasp, or which feature would they like to be featured next.

Emailing customers individually rather than using the auto-responder mail is a great way to know your customers and create customer profiles. You could check up on them if you find any sort of inactivity or change in online behavior. These might be the early signs of churning and addressing it as soon as you can could save yourself from higher churn rates.

9. User reviews

97% of buyers believe that user-generated content is more credible than those that are created by paid reviewers. Online reviews can boost the image of the company as well as the product. The millennials usually search the web for online reviews before buying the product. These reviews play a significant role in increasing your sales and it is something that you should definitely explore. 88% of people say they trust online reviews same as personal recommendations. When your customers write a review, they are able to provide first-hand information and that might be just the right thing that your product needed. Turn your customers into your advocates.

Wrapping Up!

You have now learned about how to collect different types of customer feedback in the right way. You now know, which one works and where. After collecting the feedback and filtering out many anomalies that were there, take an insightful look into the pool of data that you have now. Start classifying them into different groups. You might have to go back again and repeat the process f needed. Treat the reports and key points that you got as a hypothesis. Going back and repeating the process validates the hypothesis. It might look long and dry, the but in the end, you need to know. How else would we know whether we did it right or not? There is too much at stake to gamble. Collecting feedback transforms you into a mentalist who can read their customer’s mind and identify their needs even before they have realized it. Only if you are two steps ahead of your customer you can serve better. And this would definitely guide you on as to how to collect the feedback from your customers in the easiest way.

Mathew Maniyamkott
Mathew Maniyamkott

Guest Blogger at SurveySparrow

Regular contributor to various magazines. Passionate about entrepreneurship, startups, marketing, and productivity.

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