Creating a Winning Customer Feedback Strategy
- A culture of customer feedback can align your product roadmap with customer needs to help you scale even in tougher economic climates.
- Include solicited and unsolicited feedback from as many channels as possible for the richest picture of your customer experience.
- Create a culture of feedback across the business and build a central repository where everyone feels empowered to input feedback they’ve received.
- Follow up with your customers to let them know you’ve received their feedback and how you intend to utilize it – even if you’ve chosen not to.
As a scaling business, your customers are your best critics. Customer feedback can provide you with the insight you need to make informed decisions about optimizing your product or service, developing new features, and guiding the growth of your company. Done properly, a customer feedback strategy can support everything from product development, to customer service, to the marketing team. It can aid repeat purchases, boost retention, foster loyalty, and even increase profits.
In broad terms, a customer feedback strategy should follow a continuous cycle:
- Follow up
But what does that look like in practice, and how can it best be implemented?
Receiving customer feedback
Customer feedback can be roughly split into two groups.
This is product feedback you ask for via surveys, NPS scores, focus groups, interviews, or review pages. Solicited feedback can be qualitative or quantitative and allows you to ask specific questions, but it can also lead to bias and low reply rates.
This is the feedback you gather either from customer success, helpdesk tickets, or more abstract sources like sales calls or social media listening. Unsolicited feedback tends to be qualitative and difficult to organize, but can also be powerful – flagging issues you didn’t realize existed and that people care enough about to bring to you. What’s more, it can be used strategically to help you prioritize fixes or feature requests on the roadmap.
Example: A customer asks customer support for help adding a team member to their account, as they can’t work out how to do it.
We’ll run with this example throughout the rest of the guide.
Creating a culture of customer feedback
For a rich picture of your customers, include feedback from as many channels as possible. Then, regardless of origin, organize all customer feedback in a central repository. This could be a spreadsheet, but also consider product management platforms and customer insight platforms. There are even analytics platforms that offer AI-driven thematic and sentiment analysis.
Whatever platform you choose, the key is to avoid creating a culture where people dismiss unsolicited customer feedback. Instead, everyone in the company should feel empowered to submit any feedback to that central repository, safe in the knowledge it will be followed up on.
Example: The customer success manager documents feedback in the central repository, giving the product team instant visibility.
Analyze and synthesize
Regularly go through that repository of feedback, group the things together that are similar, and look for patterns and themes.
Here are a few considerations:
- If you choose to analyze feedback manually, keep an eye out for bias. Don’t create categories based on what you expect your customers to say but instead on what they actually say.
- Be consistent with the categories and themes you use with each round of feedback. It will make it easier to find relevant answers and insights moving forward.
- Link each piece of feedback to as much additional data as possible (think demographic or CRM data).
- To help you identify which insights are relevant to which team, introduce sub-categories such as ‘marketing feedback,’ ‘customer service feedback,’ ‘major product bugs,’ and ‘feature requests.’
- Prioritize your actions around your business priorities. Consider what generates the most new or expansion revenue, what’s causing people to cancel, and things that align most closely with the ideal customer.
Example: The founder prioritizes consistent feedback for a feature request/bug fix, which the product team prioritizes in their next sprint.
Deploy and follow up
When sharing insights, agree on a regular cadence with the product team. As well as embedding the customer feedback loop in the product development process, it also makes it easier to keep track of changes made in response to feedback and follow up with customers promptly.
As you start to change your product, it’s vital to have a hypothesis on what you’re trying to achieve by implementing the feedback and then measure success against that hypothesis.
Read more: 7 Secrets to Form a Great Customer Advisory Board
Once you’ve done this, it’s important that you know who the feedback came from, internally and externally.
When you make a change and implement something on the basis of feedback, proactively reach out to those people. This is still the case even if you disagree with the feedback and choose not to act on it. There’s always value in engaging with the customer who made the comment. It’s one of the most effective ways to turn feedback into advocacy and makes it more likely that they’ll continue to share their thoughts in the future.
Example: The product team decides to make adding team members a more prominent part of the app, with the hypothesis that encouraging customers to invite team members will increase engagement and retention, and thus reduce churn.