How to Collect Customer Feedback Data and Completely Miss the Point
Gathering feedback from customers is one of the most important tasks for any business. Without input from people who are actually paying money for your product or service, it's impossible to tell how to improve your offering to make it more successful in the market and attract new people to your business.
Despite how critical feedback is, we see too many companies gathering feedback in an ineffective manner. Not only does this lead to a lack of valuable feedback, it wastes valuable time and resources that a business could be putting towards other initiatives.
Below we're diving into three of the biggest "sins" related to the process of gathering customer feedback. After years of experience with customer-facing marketing campaigns, these are the three biggest mistakes we've seen businesses make time and time again. Check to make sure you aren't making any of the following mistakes; if you are, don't worry - we'll offer some solutions to help fix these mistakes and get your feedback process back on track.
Making it a Long or Boring Process for Your Customers
It's a noble mistake - companies create extensive surveys that contain every imaginable question about their product or service. They ask for information about the customer, their business, their use of the product, their opinion of the product, and sometimes dozens of other questions, thinking that they are being thorough. Unfortunately, the customer sees these kind of feedback forms a different way: boring!
While it's great to have a detailed feedback process with lots of different topics and questions, it won't help you very much if no one fills out your form or survey. Consumers today have shorter attention spans than ever before. It doesn't matter how much time you spend thoughtfully adding a wide variety of questions to your survey - if it's too long or the questions don't entice people to share, it's likely that few people will be filling it out.
To see if this is a problem for your company, look into your completion rates. How many people are completing your survey in comparison to the number of people who receive it? If your completion rates are especially low, reconsider the way you are asking for customer feedback by taking another look at the questions you are asking.
Quantity vs Quality
It's more important to get a little bit of feedback from a large number of people than it is to get in-depth feedback from just a handful of people. This is especially true if your offering is a subscription service or cloud-based app that depends on a large volume of subscribers.
To help you get a larger quantity of feedback, start your initial feedback requests with a small number of questions. Ask less initially, and then invite people who participate to a more extensive survey. Some people will decline, but you'll still get more information than you would if you had started off with the more extensive survey. You might be surprised at the number of people who complete the initial request for feedback.
Collecting Data and then Doing Nothing With It
It might be surprising, but many companies don't take sufficient action on the information they receive in feedback forms or surveys. If you are taking the time to send surveys to customers or calling them for their opinion on your product or service, why not do something with the information you gather?
There are several different ways you can go about applying this information. It doesn't have to be elaborate - you might hold a team meeting or two to talk about the feedback and agree on a few key initiatives based on what you found out. Just making people aware of the feedback you receive can go a long way to helping your business improve based on the requests of your customers.
Segmenting Your Participants
One of the best things you can do with your customer feedback information is segmenting your happy customers from the disgruntled ones. In an ideal world, every customer who purchases your offering would be completely satisfied with everything. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case in the real world. However, if you receive negative feedback from a customer, it's an opportunity for you to fix the situation and turn an unhappy customer into an advocate for your business.
Follow Up When Needed
The key to both converting unhappy customers and taking full advantage of happy ones is following up. If a customer responds to your feedback request with negative information, it means there is a chance they can be converted. If they didn't care at all and had no interest in your offering, they wouldn't have responded. That's why it's critical to get in touch with people who submit negative feedback to see if you can solve their issues.
Conversely, when customers respond to your feedback request positively, ask them to give you a full testimonial or refer you to others who could use your offering. There's no better time to ask for a referral or testimonial than right after a customer has finished giving your business positive feedback. They are already thinking positively about your company and what it sells - capitalize on this state by asking them to help you help more people!
Share the Results Internally
Another common mistake we see made frequently is when companies fail to disperse the feedback results to the organization at large, instead keeping it contained to the marketing department.
Most of the time, customers won’t give you feedback about your marketing activities! They will be commenting on your operations and the way your product or service functions. Their feedback needs to reach the people who are responsible for your offering - don't let it be exclusive to the marketing department.
Allowing Statistically Insignificant Feedback to Drive Huge Decisions
Almost every large consumer-driven company, from Netflix to Apple to Facebook, has endured negative feedback about changes to their product or interface. These negative comments are especially common in the days and weeks immediately following a major product change or update.
The problem is that it can be challenging to decipher what is valid feedback that a company should listen to, and what is just a handful of negative complaints from a small minority. The aforementioned companies have done a great job of doing just that; they ignore negative feedback when it's insignificant, but act on it when it comes from a large enough group of customers.
It can be difficult to make the distinction between relevant and irrelevant feedback. To make this determination, compare the number of customers you have to the amount of negative feedback you receive.
Look for Patterns and Determine How Many Respondents Are Needed to Drive Change
By all means, listen to every negative comment or criticism of your offering. However, it's important to test these by comparing them to other customer experiences. Just because one person says something doesn't mean it is a consensus among your customers.
To really determine what kind of negative feedback you need to act on, take some time to look at the quantity of negative responses received. If only a few people are giving you negative feedback about something, it probably doesn't need to be prioritized or incorporated into your strategy going forward.
Celebrating Success and Failure to Improve
Remember that collecting feedback from your customers is only the first part of the puzzle. While this is an important step that every company should take, your work isn't done once you have received a good amount of feedback from your current and past customers. The real victory will come from actually using and applying the feedback in your business. Don't be overwhelmed by this concept. If you can take the feedback you receive from customers and turn it into even one or two initiatives that you genuinely act on, your efforts to gather customer feedback will ultimately help to improve your overall revenue.
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