Customer_Feedback
Customer Feedback

The importance of customer feedback

Your business will be successful if your customers are happy - it’s as simple as that. But how do you keep them happy? How do you know what parts of your business they like, and which bits could be improved to make them like you more? You guessed it – you need to ask them. 

Asking your customers for feedback is the best way to gain insight into what makes your customers tick, get the information you need to make significant changes, and stop playing the guessing game with your customers.

Businesses can collect customer feedback about anything; how their customers feel about the products they buy, the service they’ve received, their opinions on a particular topic, the experience they’ve had with the brand – and everything in between!

Customer feedback can take lots of different forms, and can be collected in a whole range of different ways.


Why does your business need customer feedback?

Collecting customer feedback is about more than checking in with your customers. The information you collect, whatever it may be, is extremely valuable as it can be used throughout your business to evolve your company and transform you customer experience. You can uncover which areas of your business need work, which products are causing issues, and which parts of your brand your customers are loving, so you can shout about them in your marketing campaigns.

Reaching out to your customers and asking their opinion doesn’t just open your eyes to issues that could have otherwise flown under the radar, it also shows your customers that you care about what they think – strengthening relationships and encouraging customer loyalty.


How to collect customer feedback

There are no quick fixes when it comes to collecting customer feedback. If you want to know how your customers are feeling, you need to reach out and ask them. There are, however, lots of different ways to do this, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution - your ideal solution could even be a mixture of several different customer feedback techniques. The best method for collecting customer feedback all depends on your business, and more importantly, what you want to achieve.

Here are some of the most popular methods of collecting customer feedback.

Product and service reviews

With a huge 96% of consumers reading or using reviews in some way, online customer reviews have become an important part of the decision-making process when it comes to clicking the ‘buy now’ button.

Online reviews usually take the form of a star rating and written comment, and are split into two main categories of customer feedback: service (or company) reviews, and product reviews.

ServiceAndProductrReview-01
An example of service review and product review

Service reviews give customers the opportunity to offer their opinion on the overall experience and service that they received when dealing with a brand, whilst product reviews are for just that – giving feedback on a particular product that the customer has purchased.

 If you’re considering using reviews to collect customer feedback, there are a few things to bear in mind.

Benefits of product and service reviews

  • Honest feedback from real customers helps shoppers feel more confident about making a purchase
  • Reviews have been proven to increase conversion. After implementing Feefo’s Smart Themes, The Perfume Shop increased web conversion by 13.5%!
  • Product reviews may help you become eligible for organic stars in search, which can help drive more customers to your site
  • The insights you gain from customer feedback can help you improve your products and service, as you uncover common issues and are able to resolve them before they escalate

Disadvantages of product and service reviews

  • Whilst platforms such as Feefo only allow real feedback from genuine customers, there are plenty out there that don’t require a verified purchase in order to leave a review. This means that anyone can leave ‘customer feedback’ on a brand’s page, whether they have had an experience with them or not, leaving them open to fake reviews

“We have been so impressed by the success of Smart Themes. By giving our customers the opportunity to read only the reviews that are relevant to them, we make it easy for them to access other customers’ feedback and make their buying decision.”

Laura Croucher, Head of Digital

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Surveys

You’re probably familiar with surveys – they’re one of the most popular methods of collecting customer feedback. The idea is to collect information, data and opinions from a large number of people by using targeted questions.

Perhaps you want to collect some data for a report, find out what attendees thought of an event you held, gauge how your employees are feeling, or what your customers think of your website - there are thousands of ways to use surveys.

Customer feedback surveys

Let’s zone-in on customer feedback surveys. As you’ve probably guessed, these are run by businesses to get a better understanding of how their customers are feeling, whether it’s about their products, service, delivery, their customer support – anything. You could ask, for example, ‘How easy was it to find what you were looking for today?’, or ‘Did the support team help to resolve your issue?’. The answers don’t just give you an idea of how your customers are feeling, but also award the insight you need to influence marketing campaigns, develop your products, and nail your customer service processes.

Benefits of surveys

  • Customers like to be asked for feedback. By giving them the option to share their opinions with surveys, you’re showing that you value their insight
  • Surveys are one of the easiest and quickest methods of collecting customer feedback. Often, you can build a survey and start collecting responses right away, meaning you can get up-to-date data whenever you like
  • Surveys are incredibly versatile and can be used pretty much however and whenever you like. You don’t even have to wait for your respondents to complete a transaction to start asking them questions, or ask for customer feedback at all – you can use them with your staff as well as your customers

Disadvantages of surveys

  • We’ve all been asked to take part in a survey at some point. Being such a popular method of collecting customer feedback means that customers can sometimes feel a little bombarded by surveys and are less likely to take part
  • If you don’t design and execute your survey in the right way, there’s a chance your responses could be skewed. For example, if you don’t offer a ‘Not applicable’ option, your respondents could be forced to give an answer which doesn’t reflect how they really feel

Follow-up phone calls

It goes without saying that certain customers respond differently to different methods, and writing in-depth comments isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. To get to the bottom of how your customers are really feeling, the answers may lie within actual conversations. Collecting customer feedback over the phone means you get to pick up on the tone of the responses, allowing you to dig a little deeper where you feel you need to.

Benefits of follow-up phone calls

  • Phone calls are much more personal than most other methods of collecting customer feedback, so customers are likely to feel valued and that their opinions are being heard
  • Speaking to your customers is a good way of building relationships and trust in your brand
  • The nature of these phone calls allows for long, in-depth answers and opinions

Disadvantages of follow-up calls

  • Some customers may feel that phone calls are too intrusive
  • With no ‘physical’ feedback as such, it’s hard to measure, report on and use the responses as you would be able to with written and recorded customer feedback

In-app customer feedback collection

You’ve probably come across in-app customer feedback software without even realising it. This can sit inside a whole load of different apps and products – often hiding away somewhere at the side of the screen or in a bottom corner. You could even get a little prompt to give some feedback or rate the app after a few minutes of using the product. The most obvious differentiator of in-app solutions is that they’re used to collect customer feedback in real-time, so the customer is actually using the product as they are being asked how they feel about it.  

Benefits of in-app feedback collection

  • The information is collected as the customer is using the product, so the feedback tends to be extremely concise and relevant to their exact point in their customer journey
  • Once the mechanism is integrated into your app or software, there’s not much for you to do other than wait for the feedback to start rolling in!
  • Response rates can be pretty high. Since the feedback collection takes place within your product or app, customers can access it whenever they need to, and whilst this usually means they’re reporting a bug or an error, it’s the feedback you need to make things better

Disadvantages of in-app feedback collection

  • Because of the types of questions that are commonly asked, this isn’t the customer feedback method for you if you’re after detailed responses
  • Feedback is great, but there is such a thing as too much of it! As this method is always ‘switched on’ and extremely accessible to your customers, it could easily lead to an influx of responses, some of which may be completely irrelevant
  • Depending on how your feedback collection is set up, you might not have enough information to follow-up with your customers and delve a little deeper into their responses

Feature requests

Feature requests are ideas and suggestions from existing customers about how they think a product could be improved. Not all feature requests are the same – they can be bug reports, ways to improve current features, or completely new ideas. Customer requests can be collected and managed in lots of different ways, including feedback boards, idea portals, apps such as Trello, and software which is completely dedicated to hosting this type of customer feedback.

Benefits of feature requests

  • Collecting this kind of feedback helps you solve problems, and so long as you’re taking note of what your customers are asking for, you’re ultimately making your product stronger and picking up on issues that could have otherwise gone unnoticed
  • Even if you don’t put the customer feedback into action, giving real users the opportunity to speak up is a great way of making your customers feel as though they’re part of your product roadmap
  • Feature request boards are great for creating a real sense of community for you and your customers

Disadvantages of feature requests

  • Often the requests and problems are very specific to individual users and may not actually benefit the majority of your customers
  • Unless your customers are actively asked to provide ideas, feature request boards are often under-used

Platforms and tools for collecting customer feedback

We’ve covered most of the different types of customer feedback, now let’s discuss exactly how you’re going to capture it.

Knowing which customer feedback tool to use can be a tricky decision – each has its own way of collecting feedback, gathers different types of information, reports on the findings in different ways, and provides its own unique types of insight. Before you delve into the world of customer feedback tools, make the decision easier for yourself by defining your goal and having a clear idea of exactly you want to find out.

FeefoMachine

Third-party review websites

There’s a big difference between third-party review sites and the independent review companies that we’ll talk about later. The main difference between the two is that third-party review sites collect and display reviews on their site, independently from the companies that are being reviewed. Think about the sites that usually pop up before booking a restaurant, for example; Google My Business, Yelp, TripAdvisor - these are all third-party review websites.

Benefits of third-party review websites

  • These sites can be a great source of social proof. Having people talk about your business in a public place can give shoppers the validation they’re after when checking out a business online. Better still, the fact that these opinions are coming from people outside of your own business means that the feedback tends to carry more weight
  • Third-party review websites are very public, so as well as having visibility of what people are saying about your business, your potential customers can also see how you respond. Do it well, and you can win Brownie points by showing off your customer service skills, earning you some new customers
  • Showing up on a few different review sites means you’ll have more exposure and rack up a bigger presence online

Disadvantages of third-party review websites

  • Many of these sites won’t give your website any SEO value – as you can’t host the reviews on your site
  • People have free reign to say whatever they like. This, of course, is helpful if the feedback is from a genuine customer, but that isn’t always the case on third-party review websites. With no need to make a verified purchase, anyone is free to go and leave ‘customer feedback’ about whoever and whatever they like. Unfortunately, this is often the case, especially when it comes to competitors!
  • Staying on top of your branding can be tricky when it comes to third-party review sites, who will often automatically generate a profile on your behalf

Independent review companies

Independent (or first-party) review companies give businesses the tools they need to collect and display customer feedback on their own websites. These reviews can live on a dedicated page on the business’s website, on the homepage, on widgets throughout the site – pretty much anywhere.

Benefits of independent review companies

  • Using first-party reviews means you can place feedback, ratings and testimonials throughout your site as added trust signals. This means that you’re encouraging customers as they travel through the sales funnel, right the way through to the checkout, rather than just at the very start of their journey
  • When you add a dedicated reviews page, use the correct schema, and utilise all the user-generated content from your customer feedback, you can help your website to rank higher in search engines. Learn more about how reviews can help with SEO here!
  • Collecting your own feedback means you also get to collect your own insights, which is like gold dust when it comes to finding out more about your customers, your business, and where you can make improvements

Disadvantages of independent review companies

  • Whist Feefo only allow verified reviews from real customers, there are lots of reviews providers that don’t have this requirement. That means the business could be vulnerable to fake negative reviews from competitors, or even 5-star reviews from their own employees!
  • You will get negative reviews – you simply can’t please everyone. Whilst this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, people do like to seek out negative customer feedback, so you need to have a process in place to make sure you’re doing all you can to reassure potential customers
  • There’s usually a charge for independent review companies to cover the products, insight and customer service that you’ll typically receive

“It’s massively important to us that we stand out from the competition and Feefo ticks all the boxes. Nothing is as convincing as the recommendation of a fellow customer we trust. Such high Feefo review ratings are proof of the consistency of what we do for every one of our clients. Using Feefo is one of the best things we have done.”

Luis Navarro, Co-Founder and Sales Director

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Social media

Social media is becoming more and more integral to people’s lives – there are 3.5 billion social media users worldwide- that’s 45% of the population! Social media is where your customers are already talking, sharing and commenting, so it makes sense that your business becomes part of those conversations by asking for customer feedback. There are now so many ways to do this, from posting surveys on Instagram, using chatbots to ask questions on Messenger, hosting Q&A’s and live chats on Twitter and the old tried-and-true method of social monitoring.

Benefits of collecting customer feedback on social media

  • You can reach a huge audience across just about every social media platform. Facebook, for example, currently has 1.69 billion users, Twitter has 262 million, and Instagram around one billion
  • If you’re asking for customer feedback on your own social media channels, there’s a good chance that you’re speaking to customers who are already engaged, and ready and willing to let you know how they’re feeling
  • It’s cost-effective, straight-forward and depending how you do it, can be fun for your audience.

Disadvantages of collection customer feedback on social media

  • Being such visible platforms, opening up your social media channels for customer feedback can come with its risks, especially when it comes to fake or malicious comments which can so easily go ‘viral’
  • Monitoring all of your social media accounts can be time-consuming and labour intensive
  • Cutting through the noise on social media isn’t always easy, especially when most of the content won’t be relevant to your business

Survey software

We’ve already talked about how useful surveys can be for collecting customer feedback. Depending on your requirements, the very least you’ll need to make this possible is some survey software that can help you to design surveys, send them out, and then analyse the results so you can take action. Survey software solutions come with different features and capabilities, so like many of the other methods, you’ll need to go into your research with a clear idea of exactly what you’re trying to achieve

Benefits of survey software

  • All of your customer feedback is centralised in one place, and in real-time, so there’s no risk in losing any data and everything is up-to-date and as accurate as possible
  • Survey software gives you a load of flexibility. You can change parts or all of your survey with minimal cost, or target different questions to different audiences
  • Survey software can quickly analyse your customer feedback to give you actionable insight straight away. Better still, this information is usually given to you in tables, charts and graphs, so you get all the insight you need at-a-glance
  • Survey software doesn’t just make the process easier for you, it’s more user-friendly for your respondents too

Disadvantages of survey software

  • It’s hard to verify whether you’re collecting feedback from the respondent that you intended the survey to go to

Customer feedback strategy

As you’ve probably guessed by now, having a good customer feedback strategy can be a game-changer for your business. It’s the key to understanding your customers, making smart moves, and improving your brand and your customer experience.

Here’s our guide on putting together a customer feedback strategy:

1. Collect feedback from your customers

  • Identify your goals and set clear objectives – what are you trying to find out?
  • Choose which customer feedback method is best for you. Where are your customers most engaged? Do you want to hear from previous customers, or those who haven’t dealt with you before? Do you want to collect feedback on your products, your service, or both?
  • Think about what part of the customer journey you want to find out more about, and make sure you’re asking your customers for feedback at the right time
  • Display your feedback as a trust signal for potential customers

2. Analyse your results

There are a few different metrics that you can use to measure customer feedback, which we’ve talked about in more detail here.

3. Turn insight into action

  • Summarise and share the feedback with others at your company and get working on a plan
  • Follow up any issues with your customers so they know that you’re listening

Remember – a customer feedback strategy isn’t a one-time thing. As your business evolves, so will your feedback. The key is staying on top of it!