Customer feedback surveys - types, platforms, best practices

'Customer feedback survey' describes different types of customer feedback ranging from customer reviews through to customer surveys. Their objective is to collect data around your customers' experience with the products or services you sell, your physical store, your website and your staff members.

Customer feedback surveys collect information from existing and/or potential customers in a short or a long-form survey format that can be then used to make strategic decisions by the company’s management. As a consumer, you've probably encountered numerous customer feedback surveys yourself.

Here, we take a closer look at customer feedback surveys and what they can add to your business.

What is the aim of customer feedback surveys?

The data that customer feedback surveys aim to collect can be positive or negative, usually with the intention of finding ways for a business to improve; this is why they cover all of a customer's touchpoints throughout their journey, from the research stage through to receiving the product or service that you offer. This information can then be used to significantly improve customer satisfaction, your company’s reputation and, subsequently, sales. It can help to identify gaps in your service, opportunities for improvement or growth, and can even help to reduce churn rate – after all, a 5% increase in customer retention can produce 25% more profit. Customer feedback surveys work best when they prompt open and honest feedback from the customer, so your survey questions should be tailored to coax out information that might uncover and identify slow, cumbersome processes that create poor channel performance and sales.

Another positive outcome of collecting data via customer feedback surveys is that as a business, you can create a benchmark of customer satisfaction and experience, and then use this to measure your company's performance going forward. After all, it's impossible to improve the customer experience you offer if you have no idea what level you're currently at. The correlation between great customer experience and repurchasing is very high so it is in your business' best interest to start using customer feedback surveys to your benefit.

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Different types of customer feedback surveys

A customer feedback survey can take many shapes and formats. Deciding on which type of survey to use depends on who your audience is and where you intend to interact with them. If you know your customers are mostly under 35s who tend to visit your website on their mobile devices, it could be best to use a mobile-optimised web survey with just a few quick questions. 63% of millennials begin their customer service interactions online, so bear this in mind. If you have a physical store and website, and your audience is over 55s who prefer to communicate more traditionally, a long-form survey form that can be filled out and submitted physically might work better. Read on to learn more about the main types of customer feedback surveys.

Customer reviews

Customer reviews are usually associated with product reviews where customers are asked about their experience with the product they have recently purchased. These types of reviews are usually in an open-ended, free format and are a fantastic way of getting product feedback at scale. Customer reviews can usually be found online on the corresponding website product pages.

Customer feedback

Customer feedback is more associated with the experience that customers have with your company’s service. This includes interactions with your customer service teams – by telephone, email, post, webchat, or social media – or your sales colleagues. Customer feedback is a great way to gauge how well your employees are trained to serve your customers pre- and post-sale, and what your overall level of customer service satisfaction looks like.

Customer satisfaction surveys

Customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys are designed to understand your customers’ satisfaction levels with your business' products, services, or specific experiences. A single question usually asks, 'how would you rate your overall satisfaction with the service you received?' Answers are graded on a scale, usually from 1-5, where 1 represents very unsatisfied and 5 represents very satisfied. Once you start collecting responses, you can measure your score using the formula below:

(Number of satisfied customers (4 and 5) / Number of survey responses) x 100 = % of satisfied customer

This score indicates how satisfied or dissatisfied customers are with whatever you intended the survey to measure.

NPS surveys

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is an index ranging from -100 to 100 that measures the willingness of customers to recommend a company’s products or services to others. It's used to gauge the overall satisfaction of customers with your company's product or service, and their loyalty to your brand. NPS surveys ask the question 'on a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this company’s product or service to a friend or a colleague?'

Based on the rating they give, customers are then classified into three categories - detractors, passives, and promoters. The goal with NPS surveys is to get as many promoters as possible! Promoters score 9 or 10 and are usually loyal customers who shop with you regularly and speak very highly about your brand. Passive people score 7 or 8 – they are quite satisfied with your company but could be swayed towards a competitor with the right offer. They might stay loyal to you, but they're not brand advocates and aren't overly impressed by your business. Detractors are not a good sign. They score you 6 less, usually because of a negative experience somewhere in their journey with your company. They pose a threat as they have the potential to leave negative reviews online or pass on their disaffection across social media or through word of mouth.

Calculating your NPS score is simple – subtract the percentage of customers who are detractors from the percentage who are promoters. If all your customers respond with a detractor score of 6 or less, this will create an NPS of -100. If all your customers score you 9 or 10, then your overall NPS score will be 100.

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Website experience surveys

Sometimes it's most effective to get your customers' feedback when they are in the moment, having a positive or negative experience in real-time. On-page website experience surveys can be designed to show on key pages of your website, or they can be triggered when a visitor takes certain actions on a page (for example, if they go to close the window, or if they have been on a page for a long time and can't seem to find what they are looking for). Website experience surveys can collect information about the design, UI and UX of your website, and can be very effective in better understanding your customers' online pain points or what information is maybe missing from your website.

Social media surveys

You can usually find your biggest fans and your unhappiest customers on social media. This is where they come to shout about your fantastic products or service, or to complain loudly about how you have disappointed or angered them. Using social media to collect feedback via in-channel polls or landing page surveys is a fantastic way to show your engaged customers that you hear them and want to know more. If you're struggling to get the reach you need for a high volume of responses, you can also boost your survey to more of your customers using paid social.

Tools and platforms for collecting customer feedback

Now you know the main types of customer feedback surveys, it's time to consider which tools and platforms are available for collecting customer feedback. Over the past few years, as digitisation has spread and consumers have embraced the 'always-on' internet culture, more and more feedback tools and software have come onto the market. We've rounded up the best ones below.

Customer review collection platforms

If you have a large customer base and a broad product portfolio, it can feel overwhelming to think about collecting customer reviews. Customer review platforms are designed to help simplify the process and manage the review collection process. Once you have better control of your customer reviews using one of these platforms, it becomes much easier to also manage your responses and your online reputation. Some of the big-name platforms include:

  • Trustpilot
  • Feefo
  • Google Reviews
  • Trip Advisor

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Customer survey platforms

In most instances, if you have a platform that has the capability to create surveys, then you can collect and measure customer feedback like your NPS and CSAT. But what about additional customer experience metrics that can help to augment the NPS and CSAT insights you collect? Some platforms have built-in, custom customer experience metrics and surveys that can be launched as stand-alone customer feedback surveys or combined with customer review requests. Feefo's Surveys are a good example of this. Other tools and platforms include:

  • Survey Monkey
  • Feefo
  • Google Forms
  • Qualtrics

Launching your customer feedback survey

Timing

At this point, you're probably asking yourself when is the best time to start collecting customer feedback? Ideally, you should collect both service and product reviews as soon as possible. In fact, you should ask for service feedback directly after the service was given, regardless of whether the customer decided to buy your product or not. In some industries, the service is delivered instantly whereas the product may be delivered several months down the line – like in the travel industry for example. In circumstances like this, a review campaign management tool can be very useful. With Feefo’s campaign management tool, you can easily manage your customer feedback surveys and review collection campaigns.

If you're using on-page website surveys to collect feedback, then these launch in real-time as your web visitors use your website. These surveys will be anonymous unless you ask a series of additional questions, so bear that in mind when planning your strategy and the kind of data you want to collect.

Asking the right questions

Once you know when and where you will be launching your customer feedback survey, it's time to decide on which questions to ask. This all comes back to the objective of your customer feedback strategy – what is it that you are hoping to measure or uncover about your business? NPS and CSAT surveys are targeted to measure scores for particular customer experience metrics, but you can always gather more information using long-form surveys and different feedback formats.

You should aim to create a mix of closed and open-ended questions. Closed questions are when the survey-taker ticks a box to choose from a pre-defined set of options. They might include 'yes' or 'no' questions, or 'choose the answer that best applies to you'. They're useful for quantitative answers. Open-ended questions let customers use free text to create more personal, usually longer answers. Open-ended questions are great for qualitative responses which provide valuable feedback you'd never even thought of asking about. If you just want a fast and brief snapshot of your product or service, only a couple of questions should suffice.

It is really important to structure your surveys logically by grouping similar questions together or funneling your customers from quite general questions into more specific ones. Each approach is fine, as long as it is designed to make the survey flow as naturally and logically as possible. Avoiding frustrating your customers – especially those who might already be frustrated with your company and are taking the time to complete the survey anyway –is crucial!

Here are some example questions to try:

  • If you could change just one thing about our product, what would it be?
  • Describe our product/service/company in three words.
  • Were you able to find the information you were looking for on our website?
  • Please tell us what, if anything, is missing from our website.
  • What is your favourite thing about the product/service/company?
  • What is your least favourite thing about the product/service/company?
  • Do you feel our product/service is good value for money?
  • List three ways we could improve our product/service/website.
  • Compared to our competitors, is our product (or service) quality better, worse, or about the same?
  • Do you have any additional comments or feedback for us?
  • What was the best thing about your interaction with our customer service colleague today?
  • How can our sales process be improved?

What happens once you have collected customer feedback?

As we mentioned above, it is extremely important to use your feedback and scores to create a benchmark of performance. Once you have your benchmarks in place, you can take the insights from your feedback and look for trends, themes or common threads of concern. This data should be treated as invaluable, because you now have in your hands the key to solving the problems your customers face and improving their customer experience.

Once you have devised a customer experience strategy based on the feedback you've received, communicate your strategy to your customers. It doesn't need to be detailed – it can just be high level – but it will create an open dialogue between your company and customers which reassures them that their feedback has been seen, heard and, most importantly, acted on. After all, your customers are arguably your biggest company asset. Sharing your plans for improvements based on their insights is a fantastic way of including them in your business' journey of growth and change.

In conclusion

We hope this article provides a well-rounded introduction to customer feedback surveys and their importance to your business. We've outlined the different types, including reviews and surveys, and which platforms are the best for delivering and managing your feedback collection activity. By introducing customer feedback surveys into your business operations, you are opening the door to welcome in customers and their experiences with your company.

They won't always be positive experiences, but this is a good thing. The negative feedback you receive will highlight the challenges and frustrations your customers face – some of which might not have even occurred to you as someone so close to the business. You should be mindful of any trends or themes that are uncovered in your customer feedback surveys, as these mark the starting points for your customer experience strategy; a strategy that should aim to improve your customers' experience across all the touchpoints of your business. Use your NPS score, CSAT score, sentiment analysis and negative trends to benchmark your performance as a business. Take the attitude that the only way is up, via the creation of a strategy that favours continuous improvement and interaction. Communicate your plans to your customers and involve them in your processes of change, collecting their feedback all the while so that you can see the needle move against your benchmark scores.

It might feel daunting if you're a business just starting out on your customer feedback journey. Especially if you have a large suite of products or services or lots of customers on your books. Remember that the more customers you have, the more experiences you have to learn about and the more data you have at your disposal. If you have further questions or would like to start collecting online reviews and dive into feedback surveys, reach out to us for an introduction to our products.

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Net Promoter® and NPS® are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.


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