Written by Sonal Jaiswal | Evangelist, Customer Guru
One of the most innovative entrepreneurs of all time, Elon Musk once said, “I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.” Bill Gates, the richest man in the world said, “We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” Why is it not surprising that the best of the entrepreneurs are always the ones who are wanting to take feedback from their customers?
It is futile to develop a product or a service in a bubble of your own. The best of the products, if not useful to the customers, will fail. And, the finest way to know the level of satisfaction that your company is delivering is to obtain quality customer-feedback.
Now you may ask, why would the customers want to give feedback? While some might want to see genuine improvement in the products that they use, some others might think it is a waste of their time. However, customer feedback is a goldmine of information and the onus is on you be able to mine out this free data. You cannot succeed until you understand what your customer needs and until you innovate accordingly. Remember that collecting feedback in only half the work done; the other important half is to act upon the feedback and make your customers believe that their voice is always heard and respected.
Here are a few effective ways to collect feedback.
1. Keep the feedback short
Wear the customer’s shoes! If you were made to fill in a lengthy survey that was of no benefit to you, would you really keep going after the first few questions? One important rule of thumb that must be followed is to limit the feedback form to around 2 to 5 questions depending on the customer base, the data your company needs and the industry that your company operates in. Furthermore, set the customers’ expectation right by letting the customer know in advance on how long the survey would take to complete. Don’t underestimate this time, but provide an accurate average.
2. Create consistent rating scales
If your customer feedback form has one question that asks them to rate their experience from 1-5, abstain from asking them the next rate-on-a-scale question from 1-10. This variation in scales interrupts the customers’ thoughts and forces them to re-calibrate their rating for every question, a fact that could skew the feedback.
Bonus Tip: Instead of using numbers, define each value from 1-10. Look at the example below.
3. Don’t constrict the form to scales
Although a single question feedback form may be an effective way to capture the voice of the customer, some customers have more to say. Allow the customer to provide written/typed feedback. As open ended questions. “Ask why, not why,” says Claire Lew at Know Your Company. “For example, when you ask, “Do you have any frustrations?” it’s very easy for the person to default and say “no.” But when you ask, “What could be better in the company?” that question assumes that there are things that could be better. It opens the opportunity for someone to provide a more honest answer.”
Additionally, include multiple choice questions so that the customers can voice themselves in a broader aspect, yet, not waste too much time filling in your feedback form.
4. Ask at the right time
There are definite, relevant times when you can ask your customer for his feedback. One of them is a post-transaction feedback. This customer feedback form must be presented to your customer within 24 hours from when he interacted with one of your touch-points. Any time later than this, and the customer may forget the experience. This feedback should be funnelled towards improving the customer experience at the time of the transaction.
Another type of customer feedback form is generated when the customer abandons a transaction or interaction with one of your company’s touch-points. In this form, you must include a question such as ‘What prevented you from completing the transaction or the task?’ Once you have figured out why the customer didn’t reach the end of the transaction, you can then act on the feedback, enhance the customer experience.
5. Include only relevant questions
This point is related to the first one, in which I had discussed keeping the customer feedback form short and simple. When I say include relevant questions, I mean that you should only ask questions that will get you the answer you need, helping you meliorate the customer experience by making amendments to the customer experience management. “If you don’t use the information you’re asking for, you’re wasting your customer’s time. You’re also wasting yours. You’ll have a whole batch of responses to look through and none of them will make a difference. Instead, save time and get better responses, by including only the essential questions,” says Kissmetrics’ Lars Lorgren.
A short list of relevant questions allows the customer to embrace the feedback form and fill it in honestly. A straggling form immediately distracts the customer and you end up losing out.
Bonus Tip: Avoid the jargon. While asking questions, try to reduce the length of questions as that may distract and confuse customers. Get to the point so that you don’t lose out on valuable feedback.
6. Don’t ask too often
Avoid nagging your customers to fill in the feedback form. This will only get them annoyed and force them to see your feedback as spam. You should remind your customers 2 to 3 times since they may have forgotten to respond considering their busy lifestyles. However, if you don’t receive the feedback after the third reminder, understand that the customers are not interested in offering feedback. It is your cue to stop going after them. Too much desperation may not leave the best impression!
7. Personalise feedback process
When asking for feedback, it would be effective if you could personally email your customers. For example, if they recently purchased a Mercedes from one of the dealerships, you could firstly thank them for making a decision to buy the car and appreciate them doing business with you. Then, you could ask them to translate their experience into the feedback form so that you can boost their experience during future encounters. Remember, various customers use your product or service differently and your method of questioning should reflect that.
See how Quora asks for feedback from its customers.
Here are some learnings from this amazing feedback email.
- The sender is a real person and not a ‘Quora Customer Support.’
- There is a specific and to-the-point method of questioning, rather than a general ‘What feedback do you have Quora?’
- There is a fixed reason for contacting the customer: “We noticed you recently wrote some answers and wondered if you could reply to two quick questions.“
- The email avoided a redirection link, which usually demotivates a customer to fill in feedback.
It is also possible that a company call its customer to obtain feedback. A telephone call is an exceptionally personalised method of finding out the customer’s experience and enhancing the customer experience management system. Some companies may feel that calling every single customer is a waste and may cost a lot of money. However, research at Apple found that every hour spent calling detractors was generating more than $1,000 in revenue or additional sales of $25 million in the first year. Pretty good return on your telephone investment, isn’t it?
8. Doing it online? Make it mobile friendly
Today, about 64% of American adults own a smartphone. In a study conducted by ExactTarget, it was found that around 90% of mobile users aged between 18-24 sleep with their mobile devices next to them. In this era, mobile devices have become such an integral part of our lives that it is the last thing we look at before going to bed and the first thing we look at on waking up. Shouldn’t you adapt with these changing times then?
You should capitalise on the fact that the number of people who use their smartphones has exceeded the number of people who use their desktops to interact with companies and browse through their interests. The best way to obtain customer feedback would be an online customer feedback system. This way, they can fill in the form when they are on the move.
9. Encourage Criticism
Bill Gates once said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” You must encourage your customer to give you both negative and positive feedback. Customer criticism should be considered free consulting to your company. Encourage it. However, don’t take it too far by deterring customers from praising your company. Such criticism is what can help take your company’s customer experience to its peak.
Related Article: How to Handle Negative Feedback? Here is a Simple 5 step Approach
10. Close the loop and build trust
Don’t consider customer feedback a statistic that is to be displayed at board meetings on a monthly basis. Customer feedback management should encourage feedback on the basis that it will be acted upon. One beneficial pointer is: when sending your customer an email to provide feedback, attach a few examples of how you responded to previous feedback and what action you took. This will motivate more customers to fill in the feedback form as they realise that their voice will be heard! It makes them feel loved and respected.
11. Thank customers
This is not an optional response. Always thank your customers for their feedback. Think about it: What if a customer’s feedback has helped you make a change to your product or service or has resulted in a change in company policy? If your customers aren’t receiving a response, they’d believe that you are ignoring their input and not giving them any credit. Customers love to know that they have been heard.
One of the most underused methods to interact with the customer is a personal ‘thank you’ or follow up note. Whether you’re a small or a large company, this opportunity must be used!
After all, your customers are the ones taking time out of their day to give you feedback on why they do business with you. They deserve a thank you!
In conclusion, the feedback you get from customers is of utmost importance to you. What if Apple never facilitated a way for customers to provide feedback? Would the company really have flourished to this extent? The honest answer is NO. Apple spent numerous hours speaking to potential customers to collect recommendations and feedback. While a lot of companies consider market research and customer interaction at the start of their developmental process, they often fail to incorporate such interactions at later stages. Organisations should aim to gather customer feedback throughout the life-cycle of the company.
Any other pointers that will help companies collect feedback from their customers? Do let us know your thoughts on the same!