Gathering feedback from customers is an invaluable tool for any organization. It allows them to stay in touch with customers and understand how they feel about the products or services they provide. Only then can they continually improve their brand to ensure it always resonates with their target market.
But how do you get started? Where is the best place to collect customer feedback — and how do you make sense of all the data?
In this post, we'll explain everything you need to know about gathering customer feedback. This includes why it's important, what effective customer feedback methods are available, and some practical tips on how to extract and implement customer feedback from your online community.
Here’s a quick summary of various feedback collection methods that we'll explore in this article:
Feedback Collection Methods
Conducted through various channels such as Email, telephone, or in-person.
They can be placed in a variety of locations such as on receipts, at checkout counters, or in strategic places within a brick-and-mortar store.
One-on-one conversations that delve deeper into customers' experiences and provide qualitative insights.
Observing customers as they use a product or service to identify any issues or areas of confusion.
Social media listening
Monitoring a brand’s mentions, competitors’ mentions, comments, direct messages, polls, and more on its social media accounts.
Online reviews and ratings
A type of public feedback collected through third-party review sites like Yelp, or G2 Crowd.
Customer support chats and emails
Analyzing the queries and complaints received to identify common pain points and areas for improvement.
Website and app analytics
Identify potential issues and opportunities for improvement by analyzing metrics such as bounce rates, session lengths, etc.
A dedicated space where customers can interact, discuss, and share their thoughts about your products or services on an ongoing basis.
Let’s dive in for more details on each of these methods and how they can help you.
The importance of collecting customer feedback
Collecting and using customer feedback is crucial for brands to create long-lasting relationships with buyers to increase customer retention, drive growth, and ensure their long-term success. Here’s why:
Understanding customer needs and expectations
Feedback serves as a two-way communication channel that connects businesses with their customers on a deeper level. It allows them to get a firsthand account of how their offerings resonate with customers — providing the opportunity to better understand their evolving needs and wants. Ultimately, by actively seeking and listening to customer feedback, businesses can continually align their brand with their target audience.
Improving products or services
Every piece of feedback is a unique customer's perspective about their experience with your product or service. It provides your brand with actionable insights to identify any gaps, discrepancies, or issues with your product. Once these areas of improvement are identified, businesses can focus their efforts on refining their offerings.
For instance, a feature of a product may not be as user-friendly as intended, or a service might lack an aspect that customers find important. Customer feedback allows these issues to be brought to light, providing businesses with the opportunity to address them and improve their offerings.
Moreover, customer feedback can also bring attention to product features or services that customers find valuable. These positive responses not only reinforce the success of these features — but also provide insights into what businesses should maintain or expand.
Enhancing customer experience
Customer feedback provides a window into the customer's journey. It highlights the peaks of satisfaction and the valleys of dissatisfaction every time your customer interacts with your company — from the first point of contact to post-purchase actions. By collecting and analyzing this data, a company can map out the customer journey in detail and identify points of friction or areas to improve.
Building customer loyalty
When customers provide their feedback and you use it to improve your products and services, this process strengthens their sense of involvement with your brand and fosters a feeling of ownership and personal investment. This often translates into increased customer loyalty.
Moreover, by responding to feedback, businesses convey they are committed to continuous improvement. This grows your customers' perception of your brand's credibility and reliability, cultivating their loyalty even further.
Traditional methods of collecting customer feedback
Traditional feedback collection methods are tried-and-tested tactics that have been used by brands for years to effectively collect customer feedback. Let's take a look at a few of them:
Surveys' versatility lies in their ability to be disseminated through diverse channels such as emails, phone calls, or in-person interactions, and they can be modified to explore various touchpoints of the customer journey. Let's take a look at three different types of customer feedback surveys you can use to gather feedback from your customers:
One of the most commonly used forms of surveys is email surveys. An Email customer survey is often cost-effective — since it requires minimal investment for design and distribution. Moreover, they aren’t constrained by geographical limitations and can reach a global audience, greatly widening the pool of feedback you can collect.
Email surveys typically work like this: after making an online purchase, a customer may receive an email asking for feedback about their shopping experience and how they feel about the product after they’ve used it.
Telephone surveys provide a more personal touch than email surveys. This is because a friendly representative's call assures customers that your brand is more than a faceless corporation. Although these surveys can yield detailed and in-depth responses, they are more time-consuming and resource-intensive than other methods.
A Software as a Service (SaaS) company can use telephone surveys following a customer's trial period. The representative could ask the customer about their experience with the software, the ease of use, and whether they had any issues.
In-person surveys involve a representative of a company approaching customers in person to collect direct feedback. The representative may use a tablet or paper questionnaire, enabling customers to share their experiences, opinions, or suggestions on the spot. This approach offers the advantage of immediate engagement and the ability to read non-verbal and verbal cues of respondents.
The effectiveness of in-person surveys can be influenced by certain factors, like the number of customers present at the location or event. Nevertheless, when executed effectively, the direct interaction in-person surveys offer rich, valuable feedback that can significantly enhance a business's understanding of its customers’ needs and expectations.
Feedback forms are a longstanding method of collecting customer feedback. They can be placed in a variety of locations such as on receipts, at checkout counters, or in strategic places within a brick-and-mortar store.
For example, consider a company selling consumer electronics, such as smartphones or laptops. They might include a feedback form in the product packaging or send it after a customer has made a purchase. The form could ask customers about their initial impressions of the product, its ease of use, and any issues they might have encountered.
Customer interviews are one-on-one conversations that delve deeper into customers' experiences. They typically take longer to conduct and offer a qualitative approach to collecting feedback. The ideal candidate for a customer interview usually represents a cross-section of a user base, like someone that:
Frequently uses the product or service
Reports problems often
New user with a fresh perspective
Long-term loyal customer
While traditionally associated with tech and software development, usability tests are versatile and can provide real-time, actionable insights across different sectors. They involve observing customers as they use a product or service to identify any issues or areas of confusion.
For example, a manufacturing company producing a new line of kitchen appliances can conduct usability tests. They could invite a group of prospective users to interact with these appliances, observing how they use the products, and noting any difficulties or inefficiencies.
The hands-on approach allows companies to identify potential pain points and areas of improvement directly from customers, making them an invaluable tool in the collection of customer feedback.
Digital methods of collecting customer feedback
With our lives increasingly online, businesses are leveraging digital channels to gather customer feedback effectively. Here are some of the most popular digital methods used by businesses today to collect feedback:
Social media listening
Social media platforms allow customers to express their opinions and experiences candidly — making them an abundant source of customer feedback. For example, a brand can monitor its mentions, competitor brand’s mentions, comments, direct messages, polls, and more on its social media accounts. Businesses can utilize social media listening tools to automate the process of tracking activity across their social media platforms.
Online reviews and ratings
Online reviews and ratings build trust with potential customers — helping them make the decision to purchase from your brand. This type of public feedback gives businesses not only insights into their own products — but also the opportunity to analyze reviews of their competitors' products too.
Third-party review sites like Yelp and industry-specific platforms like TripAdvisor and G2 Crowd make this easy. They offer customers a place to share their experiences and a place where brands can learn about these experiences.
You can also collect customer reviews on your brand’s website by creating a specific section where customers can submit their reviews.
Customer support chats and emails
Digital customer support channels, such as live chat and emails, are an often-untapped source of customer feedback. By analyzing the queries and complaints received from unhappy customers, businesses can identify common pain points and areas for improvement. A SaaS brand, for example, could analyze support emails related to a software bug, informing the team of the issue's severity and the urgency to fix it.
Brands can also send out surveys to customers via email and chatbots after they’ve had an interaction with your customer service team to collect feedback about their experience. These surveys will typically measure three popular metrics, which are:
Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT): This metric measures customers' satisfaction with your product, service, or support interactions. It's typically assessed by asking the customer to rate their satisfaction with their experience — using a scale of 1-5, for example.
Net Promoter Score (NPS): NPS measures your customers’ overall loyalty towards your brand. They typically feature one question and can be sent at any point during the customer lifecycle.
Customer Effort Score (CES): This metric measures the amount of effort a customer has to exert to get their issue resolved when interacting with your brand, like returning a product. It can provide insights into how you can improve customer service and streamline the customer experience.
Website and app analytics
Website and app analytics go beyond the typical piece of customer feedback and instead give businesses valuable insight into their customers’ behavior. This is made possible by analyzing metrics like bounce rates, session lengths, and click-through rates — allowing brands to identify potential issues and opportunities for improvement. For example, an ecommerce company noticing a high drop-off rate at the checkout page might infer a frustrating checkout process and require steps to improve it.
Why collect feedback in your customer community
A customer community is a dedicated space where customers can interact, discuss, and share their thoughts about your products or services. It’s often embedded into your company's website or hosted on a separate website or subdomain. Here are some compelling reasons to collect feedback in your customer community.
Real-time feedback collection
Customer communities offer the opportunity for real-time feedback collection. They capture the customer's thoughts and reactions at the moment, presenting a snapshot of their experience that is fresh and honest. This authentic, 'in-the-moment' insight can be invaluable in understanding the nuances of the customer journey and pinpointing areas of improvement.
At the same time, instead of waiting for an email survey response, businesses can view and respond to feedback as it's posted. A gaming company may have a community forum where players can help the company promptly identify any issues or bugs — allowing them to respond swiftly to any negative feedback and improve the player experience for its entire user base.
Depth of conversation and customer engagement
Online communities cultivate an environment that nurtures in-depth conversations among members. For instance, discussion threads within online communities foster continuity and structure — allowing users to contribute to the evolution of ideas, concerns, and sentiments.
These types of discussions provide businesses with a wealth of authentic and organic insights that can be instrumental in refining their product strategies and optimizing customer satisfaction. Additionally, deep and detailed conversations often provide context to the feedback — helping businesses gauge the significance of an issue or idea. If multiple customers express the same sentiment, for example, it signifies a more widespread trend that could be crucial for the company to address.
In addition, community platforms often include features like upvoting, pinning posts to the top, and tagging, which can highlight popular topics, frequent concerns, or noteworthy ideas. This prevents members from missing out on popular discussions within the community and allows them to track individual topics over time.
Peer-to-peer interaction and its impact on qualitative feedback
This is because the sense of community developed through peer-to-peer interaction creates a shared commitment to improving the product or service that results in feedback that’s not only qualitative — but also solution-oriented.
Online communities help cultivate peer-to-peer interactions because they often come with features that help build a sense of identity within the community, like personal profiles. They can also provide direct messaging capabilities that allow members to get to know one another on a more personal level. All these features encourage customers to leave feedback and participate in shaping the future of your business.
Interaction among members is further encouraged through gamification elements, like badges or points that are awarded for regular participation or insightful contributions. This provides a sense of accomplishment and recognition among peers — and as members earn recognition for their contributions, they are often motivated to engage more with other members.
Extracting and implementing feedback from your customer community
Collecting feedback within your customer community isn't just a 'set it and forget it' scenario. It requires purposeful facilitation, careful analysis, and closing the feedback loop. Here are some practical methods to foster and make the most of the feedback within your community.
Methods to facilitate feedback within the community
Encouraging feedback within your community requires implementing specific tactics, like:
Create open channels for feedback: Ensure there are clear, easy-to-find channels where community members can share their thoughts and ideas. This could be a dedicated space, posts pinned to the top, or a scheduled live event that’s promoted on the community's main page. Bettermode, a unified customer community platform, provides pre-built and customizable templates that help collect feedback in your community channels. These templates include feature requests, support Q&A, and Discussions.
Promote regular Q&A sessions: Hosting regular Q&A sessions can help stimulate fresh discussions and ideas. For instance, a software company could hold monthly Q&A sessions with product managers, allowing users to ask questions, suggest features, or report bugs.
Encourage peer discussion: Facilitate discussions between community members by creating a variety of discussion threads, each focusing on different aspects of your products or services. In addition, you can promote user-generated content, recognize and reward active contributors, invite experts, and more.
Create polls and surveys: Actively distribute polls and surveys amongst community members to gather their opinions and understand their needs better. These tools can provide quantifiable data, making the feedback easier to analyze and implement.
Enable beta testing: Whenever a new product or feature is almost ready to be launched, consider giving access to a select group of community members. This exclusive group can then have a special discussion space to share their experiences, feedback, and suggestions to improve your product.
Organize community contests: These are a fun and engaging way to encourage users to share their ideas and feedback. Contests can foster creativity, boost participation, and gather useful insights.
Analysis and Interpretation of Community Feedback
The practice of collecting community feedback is only half the journey. The other critical half lies in analyzing and interpreting this feedback to glean actionable insights. This process transforms raw data into a powerful tool that brands can utilize to improve their offerings and customer experience. Here are three analysis techniques you can implement:
Sentiment analysis: This method involves gauging the tone of feedback to determine whether it's positive, negative, or neutral. By identifying the general sentiment around specific aspects of their product or service, businesses can better understand customer perception and emotions, allowing them to enhance positive experiences and address areas causing dissatisfaction.
Community software analytics and reporting: Many online community platforms come equipped with built-in analytics and reporting features. These tools can help track a range of metrics, including top members based on posts, reactions, replies, top posts based on views, and more. With these insights, brands can measure the effectiveness of their engagement strategies, understand their audience better, and make data-driven decisions to improve their product.
Manual analysis of feedback: Despite the rise of automated tools, manually analyzing still holds significant value, especially when it comes to understanding nuanced feedback. By manually reviewing and categorizing feedback into themes or categories, brands can identify recurring patterns, understand context, and extract detailed insights that may be overlooked by automated tools.
Web analytics: It's critical to track user behavior and engagement within your community. By understanding their preferences, aversions, attributes, activities, and more, brands can tailor their strategy accordingly. Platforms like Bettermode offer seamless integrations with platforms like Hotjar, Amplitude, and Mixpanel, making the process straightforward for community managers.
Integration with CRM: Merging community platforms with your CRM can produce a more holistic view of your customers. This integration lets brands correlate community engagement patterns with vital customer data, like products purchased, renewal dates, and other key touchpoints that can be found in your CRM – ensuring a more cohesive understanding of user journeys.
Closing the feedback loop in the community
Closing the feedback loop is an essential step in the customer feedback process that involves more than simply acknowledging the feedback. This strategy demonstrates to your community members that their input is not only valued but also plays a key role in shaping your business. Here’s a guide on how you can close the feedback loop with your customers:
Recognition of feedback: Every piece of feedback, whether it's a critical observation or a creative suggestion, should be acknowledged. This could be a simple 'thank you' or an in-depth conversation about the feedback. It validates the customer's effort in contributing to the community and sets a positive tone for future interactions.
Update on actions: Keep your community informed about the changes you are implementing based on their feedback. Be transparent about the modifications you're considering and share your action plan. This could be in the form of a public roadmap or regular updates in a changelog that gives insights into how their suggestions are directly influencing the development of your product or service.
Celebrate community success: Each time a change or an improvement is rolled out based on community feedback, make it a celebration. This can be as simple as publicly recognizing and thanking the individuals whose feedback led to the change. This strategy fosters a sense of collective achievement, encouraging further engagement, and positive contributions.
Customer feedback identifies areas of improvement and helps brands ensure their customers are satisfied with their products and services — making it a necessary tool that every business should utilize.
You can collect customer feedback using traditional methods like in-person surveys or digital methods like social media listening that are becoming increasingly popular. In addition, building an online customer community allows you to garner and implement qualitative feedback.
It’s also important for brands to consider implementing a customer community as part of their customer feedback strategy — since it enables them to personalize the experience they give their customers and understand their preferences better.
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