I had an eerie and unusual dream about an alligator attack last night. It was one of those bad dreams that compounded and got worse each time I woke up and fell back asleep. I don’t usually have dreams that I can vividly recall, nor do I really believe in interpreting the ‘deeper meaning’ of dreams. But nonetheless, out of morbid curiosity I suppose, I’ll admit that I googled “alligator dreams” when I logged on this morning. I learned that alligators are a symbol of hidden danger. The analogy makes complete sense when you think about it.
In a much more useful context, customers send us signs of ‘hidden danger’ every day, and sometimes at places and times when we may not be expecting it. Come to think of it, every customer data set that I’ve ever looked at has shown at least a few clues or symbols of hidden danger or risk. In one case it was an up-and-coming competitor that wasn’t quite on my client’s radar screen yet. In others, it was a story of a key account whose sentiment was waning and causing them to search for alternatives, unbeknownst to their existing service provider.
In this age of information overload, there is opportunity to seek out a few more alligators in our customer data. One method that could help is instituting a more formalized and managed follow-up process with our key accounts. In other cases, there are opportunities to learn more from the commentary provided by customers in surveys or in other feedback forums.
What is Customer Feedback?
Customer feedback is information provided by people who buy your products and services about their experience with your company.
You’ve probably been asked before whether you would recommend a product or service. That’s called the Net Promoter Score (NPS), and it’s a common way to measure how well a company is doing at keeping customers satisfied.
Why is Customer Feedback Important?
Customer feedback is important because it lets you know how your company is doing – and whether you’re likely to have customers in the future.
Collecting feedback from happy customers helps you learn which product features customers most enjoy. It can also provide testimonials your marketing team can use to entice other potential customers.
Constructive customer feedback can help improve your product. Sometimes customers help you come up with new ideas or insightful tweaks to existing designs. Feature requests can be forwarded to the product team to see if they make sense to implement from a product development point of view.
Testing new features with focus groups can help you identify whether customers like the improvements enough for them to make sense to implement.
Even unhappy customers who leave negative feedback can have valuable insight into ways to improve your product or service. They can help you identify “pain points” – moments where the experience falls apart and customers may decide to leave. For example, a customer shopping for clothes may have a great time browsing, trying on, and choosing items – and then have a difficult, frustrating time checking out. The process of checking out was a pain point of that customer’s experience – and information that can help you improve the experience.
6 Ways to Collect Customer Feedback
One of the most popular ways to collect feedback from customers is through surveys. The goal of asking questions is to get actionable responses – to use the feedback from customers to plan ways to make improvements to the experience and/or your products/services. Knowing which questions to ask to gather feedback you can use can be tricky.
Survey questions have two basic formats:
Quantitative questions allow respondents to select from a predefined set of answers or choose a number/phrase on a scale. Example: “On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your service?”
Qualitative (open-ended) questions ask respondents to write in answers. Example: “Please describe your most recent interaction with our customer support team.”
Quantitative data is easier to analyze. It gives numbers and ratings/scores that can be tracked over time. If the group of clients you survey is large enough and representative of enough of your customer base, the findings from quantitative data can be generalized to the rest of your customers.
Qualitative data gives richer feedback data. Customers describe their experience in their own words. This kind of feedback can be valuable for painting a picture of what your customers go through every day, which helps create empathy for customers in your whole team.
These types of surveys are typically distributed through email, though phone and mail used to be popular options.
These surveys come in a variety of styles, and they typically ask how the customer’s experience is going with the website itself, though they may also ask broader questions.
The best time to gather feedback from customers is as soon as possible after a transaction, while the experience is still fresh in their minds. In-app surveys are a good way to do this.
The app survey is brief survey that pops up while the customer is using your app. It can appear as a popup window or a notification (a banner at the top of the screen). App surveys require more effort to implement, but the ability to capture feedback while it’s fresh on the customer’s mind is often worth it.
People love to tell their friends and followers about their experiences on social media. Some will leave feedback or reviews on your company’s social profiles. Research has shown that the opinions of friends, family members, and even helpful-seeming strangers online can strongly affect purchasing decisions. Responding wisely to these posts can help build your brand and improve customer relations.
In a world of low response rates (how many people complete your feedback requests), this unsolicited feedback is gold! People who take the time to provide feedback (whether it seems positive or not) often leave nuggets of valuable information that can help you improve your product or the experience your customers have when interacting with your company.
When users chat with your team members, whether over the phone or through your website, it’s a great point for asking how their experience is going. However, customers may not be as forthcoming when they are talking with a live person.
Also called Voice of the Customer through the Employee (VOCE). Employees know what’s on the minds of customers. In particular, frontline employees get it. They know what customers want, how they feel, and what they complain about. Putting in place an organized way for your team members to contribute their knowledge and opinions can help improve the experience for both employees and clients.
Besides the valuable information you can gain from employees, the fact that you’re asking for their view demonstrates that you respect their thoughts and opinions. You can reinforce this by circling back and showing how their feedback led to organizational changes.
Tools to measure
When it comes to measuring customer feedback, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel! Several tools are available to help you measure how customers feel about your business.
Each of these is a customer survey with questions that target a certain type of qualitative customer data.
Net Promoter Score (NPS) measures how likely customers are to recommend your company to others.
Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) measures how satisfied customers are with a recent transaction with your company or your overall products/services.
Customer Effort Score (CES) measures how easy your company is to do business with – how much effort the customer had to expend to accomplish a goal.
Walker’s Loyalty Matrix measures how likely your customers are to continue doing business with you. It segments customers based on their attitude toward your company and their likelihood to purchase your products/services in the future. The segments are:
- Truly Loyal – Customers who have every intention of continuing business and have a positive attitude toward your company.
- Accessible – Customers who have a good attitude about working with you, but do not plan to continue their relationship. This typically means something has changed and they don’t need your product or service any longer.
- Trapped – Customers who show every indication of continuing business with you, but they’re not happy about it. They feel trapped in their relationship.
- High Risk – Customers who do not intend to return and do not have a healthy attitude about their relationship with your company.
This breakdown provides a very practical and flexible way of segmenting customers. For each of these quadrants, specific action plans can be drawn to dramatically improve business performance.
While many assert that loyalty is simply repeated purchasing, Walker’s Loyalty Matrix is designed to address the elements of both behavioral loyalty as well as attitudinal loyalty.
Intent to repurchase is used for capturing the behavioral component of loyalty. It clearly taps a behavioral intention and is the best predictor of actual behavior. A customer’s actual purchase behavior is the best measure of the behavioral component, but it can only be collected as a historical event, which eliminates the forward-looking, predictive nature aspect of behavioral intention.
Actual behavior tells us a customer has been loyal, but we really want to know if a customer will remain loyal in the near future. The intent to continue is the foundational measure of behavioral loyalty – a person cannot be loyal without continuing to do business – and is preferred over other behavioral measures such as likelihood to recommend. A customer might recommend you, but not plan on continuing to use you, and customers may continue using you without recommending you to others.
Click the play button to learn how Walker’s Loyalty Matrix offers a practical way of segmenting your customers.
What’s Lurking in your Customer Feedback?
Gathering customer feedback is one part of your Voice of the Customer listening strategy. Thoughtfully planning your program, gathering the right feedback from customers, and making adjustments to the experience your customers have can help uncover those dangers hidden under the surface and prevent them from attacking like alligators.
At Walker, we empower companies with customer experience data that drives decision-making – including planning your Voice of the Customer listening strategy. We are a Qualtrics-certified full-service Experience Management (XM) firm. Our team of experts provides technology implementation, end-to-end managed services, and expert strategic consulting so you can deliver best-in-class experiences to your customers.