Customer feedback is one of the quickest and most efficient ways to improve your business. After all, who would know better than your customers what you do well and what could use improvement? The more responsive your company is to customer feedback, the more satisfied your customers will be — and the better your company’s reputation will become, helping you generate new customers.
Gathering customer feedback is a low-cost way to obtain valuable market research insights that can help improve the customer experience, fine-tune your products and services, and much more. We’ll explain how to use customer feedback to enhance operations and share methods for gathering feedback successfully.
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How to use customer feedback
Your customers’ insights are invaluable market intelligence. Here’s how to apply customer feedback directly and indirectly to enact changes that can help you achieve profitable growth.
1. Use customer feedback to improve the online user experience.
User experience (UX) is about more than website design; it’s how all your site’s components function together. Business owners and website designers can often miss a bug or glitch — even after vigorous testing. However, consumers will likely find website issues your testing team didn’t identify. Additionally, something a more tech-savvy tester might not see as a problem may pose issues for customers visiting your website.
When consumers discover a bug or glitch, they need a quick way to reach your support team. There are a few ways to make reporting problems easy for customers:
- Create automatic error notifications. Automatic error notifications are a common tactic for collecting UX feedback. If you’ve ever started scrolling through a program only to have it crash, you likely received a notification that there was an error. Typically, this notification gives you the option of sending your data to the team for review.
- Add a contact form. An easy-to-use online contact form on the sidebar of your website is an effective way to ask your audience if they have any constructive feedback on their experience with your business.
- Send follow-up emails. You can send periodic emails to your subscribers — or one email to new customers — soliciting feedback about their experiences. Ask what they would change about their experience if they could. This data is helpful for growing your business and providing value to your customers.
Consider hiring or appointing a UX designer to optimize your website and mobile app. They can streamline your design, get feedback from real customers, and fix any problems that arise.
3. Use customer feedback to build social influence.
Social influence, or social proof, is the phenomenon that people are more likely to buy something if they see other people buying and using products from the same brand. You can build social proof with consumer feedback in several ways, including the following:
- Create testimonial pages. Testimonial pages show potential customers why your brand is worth their time. Use the feedback you receive via contact forms to build testimonial pages for your website.
- Examine your social media platforms. When consumers mention your brand, comment on your posts, or send you a message, they provide valuable feedback you can use to build social proof or enhance your business. Part of connecting with your target audience is seeing how they view your brand and products.
- Respond to online reviews. Like social media mentions and comments, online reviews are a public-facing conversation about your brand. It’s crucial to respond to online reviews — good and bad — to show everyone how you react to positive and negative feedback.
Regardless of the feedback your customers leave, responding to as many people as possible — and taking their opinions seriously — is crucial. People who leave feedback either had a great customer experience or want to share how you can improve.
3. Use customer feedback to evolve your product line.
As your business grows, you may want to add new products or services. Before you create a new product or add a product to your line, listen to your customer feedback.
For example, if an online pet store has many customers asking when it will add dog and cat treats, this is a great feedback cue. Current customers are happy with your products but wish you could meet their additional needs. In this instance, you’d find ways to include high-quality pet treats on your growing product list.
Feedback can be a growth tool, no matter your industry or niche. Listening to your customers and adding an in-demand product or feature will increase customer retention rates, sales and conversions.
4. Use customer feedback to improve customer service.
Here are some tips for using customer feedback to improve the way you help customers in the future.
- Use contact form feedback to educate your support team. Educate your employees on the typical issues customers mention when they submit contact forms. If half of your contact forms contain the same question or complaint, you’ll know many consumers experience the same problem. Help your team create a fast, helpful answer for this problem, or post the answer in your instructions or on your FAQ or self-help page.
- Proactively seek post-sale feedback. Ask for feedback soon after a sale. This lets you address problems head-on before the customer gets frustrated and leaves a negative review — or decides not to do business with you anymore.
- Refine your chatbot with customer feedback. If you use a chatbot, feedback can help you program and refine your bot to help customers with common questions or concerns. The best live chat software offers extensive customization options to personalize your support experience.
As your customer base expands, you may lose some direct customer interaction. A strong support team bridges this gap, moves leads through the sales funnel, and boosts customer loyalty.
5. Use customer feedback to identify new markets.
If you’re considering expanding your product line or opening new locations, ask your customers for their opinions. You’ll see how strong the demand is for a new product or how well-received your business might be in a particular area.
For example, Trader Joe’s grocery store has a web form where customers can request a Trader Joe’s location. If they get many requests for a particular city or area, they can conduct additional research to see if it makes sense to build a new store there.
6. Use customer feedback to make customers feel valued.
When you ask customers to share their feedback, they know you value their opinions and care about their happiness. Build on this relationship by sharing changes that came from customer feedback. Closing the feedback loop and thanking customers for their contributions increases their engagement with your company, leading to more sales, positive reviews and recommendations.
Avoid no-reply emails in your digital communications with customers. Instead, use a real email address to strengthen customer trust and welcome valuable feedback.
How to gather customer feedback
Consider the following popular methods for collecting customer feedback while sustaining and growing customer relationships.
- Gather customer feedback with surveys. Survey data is crucial in marketing. First, your team members decide on a small set of questions to ask customers about their experiences. Then, deliver the surveys to your customers via website pop-ups, text and/or email. Shorter-form surveys typically generate the most feedback, but you could test longer-form types. Surveys may follow a rating system and provide boxes to provide additional comments. Questions should be open-ended. Most companies aim for surveys that take under two minutes to complete.
- Gather customer feedback with phone calls. If you want more in-depth information, collect feedback via phone calls. You may ask similar open-ended questions as those posed in the surveys. Although this method of customer feedback collection takes longer, you get better insights. You have the ability to judge people’s tones and decide to ask follow-up questions if needed.
- Gather customer feedback with live chat. Engage customers in real time with a live chat feature on your website. Representatives can collect data and ask follow-up questions based on customers’ answers.
- Gather customer feedback via email. Email works best for quick responses; most businesses only send a few short questions to be answered. The best email marketing software can help you schedule, personalize and structure emails to get the best response rates. Auto-response emails are helpful when sending out customer feedback questions after any interactions.
- Gather customer feedback with case studies. Case studies help companies elicit feedback on their products and services. Case studies involve taking a small group of participants and collecting their feedback after using a product or service offered by your brand. Many case studies involve bringing together customers with similar backgrounds to gain valuable insights.
- Gather customer feedback with CRM reporting. Generate reports with your customer relationship management software to understand your customers better. The best CRM software records data about each client interaction and generates analytics for your review. Representatives using the CRM program can enter feedback gathered during client interactions for later review.
- Gather customer feedback with social media. Analysts can monitor social media to determine what’s being said — good and bad — about a company and manage your online reputation. For example, if you post about a product and find negative comments, you may want to investigate the issue further.
You can also address an unhappy customer’s problems directly. For serious problems or complaints, communicate privately via email or phone. Once the problem is resolved, you can post publicly about the resolution.
The importance of taking advantage of customer feedback
The key to using customer feedback to your advantage is recognizing patterns. Business owners spend almost every waking minute thinking about sales and conversion trends. However, customers allow businesses to exist and thrive. We must be mindful of how they perceive our brand and look for patterns in the feedback we receive.
As your customer count rises, you’ll have more chances to identify trends and make changes based on feedback. UX, social proof, new markets, product development roadmaps and customer support all pivot on how customers interact with and use your products and services.
Customer data presents a clear advantage to guide each step of your product development, marketing and sales.
Thomas Griffin contributed to this article.