In today’s customer-centric business landscape, one thing remains clear: customer feedback is an invaluable goldmine of insights.
However, collecting and effectively leveraging this feedback is more complex. It requires a strategic approach, a willingness to listen, and the finesse to transform raw opinions into actionable strategies.
In this guide, we embark on a journey to uncover the strategies, tools, and best practices that empower businesses to gather customer feedback and channel it into meaningful improvements.
Table of contents
- What is customer feedback?
- What are the methods of customer feedback collection?
- How to collect customer feedback?
- What to do with the customer data you have collected?
- The evolution of customer feedback
Let’s start with the customer feedback fundamentals.
What is customer feedback?
Customer feedback represents the voice of the customer, providing organizations with a vital source of information that enables them to understand, evaluate, and improve their products, services, and overall customer experience.
It encompasses the opinions, suggestions, comments, and insights customers share from their interactions with a company’s product or service.
This feedback can be collected through various channels, such as surveys, online reviews, social media comments, emails, customer service interactions, and more. We’ll dive deep into these a bit later.
Customer feedback is primarily used to:
- Enhance customer experience by guiding businesses in adapting their offerings to match customer preferences and needs, leading to a more satisfying experience.
- Improve company products by uncovering innovation or issue resolution areas, driving positive changes, and enhancing offerings in your product roadmap.
- Provide measurable satisfaction, enabling continuous performance tracking and improvements.
- Encourage customer loyalty as customers see their input lead to meaningful changes.
- Inform decision-making through data collation, ensuring optimal resource allocation and strategic choices.
It’s important to note that customer feedback can encompass both positive and negative opinions, and while it may be tempting to focus only on the positive to validate your company’s efforts, negative feedback is equally valuable.
Criticisms and concerns highlight areas that need improvement and provide opportunities for companies to turn dissatisfied customers into loyal advocates through responsive actions.
Having looked at the importance of customer feedback, let’s explore various methods of collecting these valuable insights.
What are the methods of customer feedback collection?
There are various methods through which businesses can gather valuable customer feedback to gain insights and improve their offerings.
Each of these offers unique advantages and perspectives that allow companies to choose their next approach based on their target audience, industry, and objectives.
What are surveys and questionnaires?
Surveys and questionnaires are widely utilized methods for collecting structured customer feedback from individuals, often presented in the form of predefined questions designed to gather specific insights.
When to use: Use surveys and questionnaires to gather structured feedback from a large and diverse audience. They’re ideal for collecting quantitative data and insights on specific topics or experiences.
Through the following illustrations, let’s explore the advantages of utilizing surveys and questionnaires.
Surveys can be conducted through various mediums:
- Online survey platforms like SurveyMonkey, Typeform, Google Forms, and Qualtrics enable businesses to create and distribute customized surveys efficiently.
- Email tools, often integrated with marketing automation and CRM software like ActiveCampaign, Mailchimp, or HubSpot, allow businesses to send surveys directly to customers’ inboxes.
- In-app surveys incorporated into mobile and web applications can gather feedback directly from users while interacting with your product or service. Service like Alchemer Mobile (ex-Apptentive) specializes in this approach.
- Embedded surveys directly within your website or app using tools like Hotjar, Plerdy, or Smartlook ensure a seamless user experience and higher response rates.
Pro tip: Here, you can find a comprehensive guide for writing great surveys and crafting effective questions.
Businesses can dive further into customer insights by engaging in direct and personalized conversations by transitioning from surveys and questionnaires to interviews.
What are interviews?
Interviews are a qualitative method of gathering in-depth customer feedback that goes beyond standardized questionnaires. They involve one-on-one conversations between a business representative and a customer, providing a platform for open dialogue and rich insights.
When to use: Interviews are valuable when you need in-depth, qualitative customer insights. They’re particularly suitable for exploring complex feedback, uncovering hidden concerns, and gaining a personal perspective.
The below points will guide us in exploring the advantages and factors to ponder when leveraging interviews to gather customer feedback.
Here are the submethods you can use to collect customer feedback:
- Video conferencing software like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet enables remote interviews, allowing face-to-face interactions regardless of geographical location.
- Note-taking apps like Notion, Evernote, or OneNote assist in real-time note-taking during interviews, aiding in thorough documentation.
- Transcription services like Dialpad, Rev, or Otter.ai offer automated transcription, converting audio interviews into text for more accurate analysis.
- Collaboration platforms like Google Docs, Notion, or Confluence allow shared note-taking during remote interviews, improving collaboration among team members.
Pro tip: Unsure where to begin with interview preparation? Here’s a comprehensive guide on conducting impactful interviews from start to finish.
Transitioning from individual interviews to a collaborative approach, focus groups provide a platform for diverse customer perspectives to generate more valuable insights.
What are focus groups?
Focus groups are a collaborative method of collecting customer feedback that involves a small group of participants discussing specific topics under the guidance of a moderator.
This method can lead to insights into group dynamics, shared opinions, and diverse perspectives.
When to use: Choose focus groups when you want to facilitate group discussions and gather perspectives on specific topics.
Below, we analyze the benefits of focus groups and the aspects to consider when using them.
You can use the same technologies to conduct focus groups as in interviews like Zoom for video-conferencing, Otter.ai for transcribing, and Google Docs for sharing and discussing the results.
Pro tip: If you’re planning to conduct a focus group, use this guide to discover step-by-step instructions and best practices.
Shifting from interactive focus groups to the digital landscape, social media monitoring extends the scope of feedback collection by capturing real-time customer sentiments and discussions.
What is social media monitoring?
In the digital age, social media platforms have become hubs for customer conversations and opinions, and companies are now able to actively track, collate, and analyze mentions, comments, reviews, and discussions about their business through these channels.
When to use: Social media monitoring is effective for real-time insights into customer sentiments, discussions, and trends.
This illustration provides the advantages and key points to consider while using social media monitoring.
Effectively monitoring social media platforms for customer feedback and sentiment requires specialized tools:
- Social media listening tools like Mention, Buzzsumo, and Youscan allow businesses to track mentions, keywords, and hashtags across various social networks.
- Sentiment analysis software such as Lexalytics or NetBase can analyze social media content to determine sentiment and identify positive, negative, or neutral mentions.
- Keyword tracking tools such as Google Alerts, Awario, or Brand24 notify businesses when specific keywords or phrases are mentioned online.
- Competitor analysis tools like Semrush or Ahrefs offer competitive analysis features to track competitors’ digital performance.
- Engagement platforms like Buffer, Sprout Social, or Hootsuite enable businesses to respond efficiently to social media comments and messages.
Pro tip: Here are the best practices for effective social media monitoring to help you get started quickly and achieve rapid results.
Transitioning from real-time social media monitoring to structured feedback, customer reviews offer detailed diverse firsthand accounts and opinions.
What are customer reviews?
Customer reviews are a form of user-generated feedback that customers voluntarily provide based on their experiences with a product, service, or business. These reviews can be found on various platforms, such as e-commerce websites, review websites, and social media.
When to use: Utilize customer reviews when you want authentic, immediate feedback on specific products or services. They offer valuable insights into customer experiences and influence potential buyers’ decisions.
Below are the pros and factors to bear in mind while employing customer reviews to amass customer feedback.
Effectively managing and leveraging customer reviews requires specialized tools to gather, analyze, and respond to feedback across various online platforms:
- Review aggregation and monitoring tools like Yotpo, Birdeye, Trustpilot, or Podium gather and showcase reviews from multiple sources to provide a comprehensive overview.
- Google My Business is a crucial tool for local businesses as it allows them to collect and manage reviews directly on their Google listing.
- Third-party review sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, or Amazon offer business tools to claim and manage their profiles while also being able to respond to customer reviews.
- Social media review features on Platforms like Facebook allow customers to leave reviews and ratings directly on business pages.
Moving from qualitative customer reviews to quantitative assessments, ratings provide a concise and standardized way for customers to express their satisfaction and preferences.
What are ratings?
Ratings are a simple yet impactful method of customer feedback collection. These are often accompanied by customer reviews and involve customers assigning a numerical value (such as stars or points) to indicate their level of satisfaction with a product, service, or experience.
When to use: Ratings are perfect for quick, snapshot feedback on customer satisfaction levels. Use them to gauge overall sentiments and identify trends that require attention.
The pros, cons, and factors to consider when utilizing ratings are shown below.
Leveraging customer ratings involves certain tools to collect and analyze quantitative feedback, enabling businesses to gauge customer satisfaction and identify areas for improvement:
- Star rating widgets like Google’s star ratings or custom plugins are easy to implement, and they allow customers to rate products, services, or experiences. E-commerce businesses often integrate built-in rating systems to allow customers to rate products and services directly on their websites.
- Customer feedback software like Qualaroo or Usabilla enables businesses to create targeted surveys that include rating scales.
- Review platforms with ratings like Capterra, Clutch, or G2 Crowd offer features for customers to provide both written reviews and numerical ratings.
From customers expressing satisfaction through ratings, we can now look at how customer support interactions offer a direct avenue for addressing concerns and gathering real-time feedback.
What are customer support interactions?
Customer support interactions refer to the various communications and exchanges that occur between customers and the representatives of a company. These interactions aim to address customer inquiries, issues, and requests to provide effective solutions and maintain a positive customer experience.
When to use: Opt for customer support interactions when you want to capture feedback from customers seeking assistance. These interactions provide the most up-to-date insights into customer issues, pain points, and satisfaction levels.
In this illustration, we show the advantages and factors to consider when using customer support interactions for customer feedback collection.
Efficiently managing customer support interactions and resolving issues requires specialized tools to provide seamless communication and prompt assistance:
- Ticketing systems like Hubspot, Zendesk, or Freshdesk enable businesses to manage and track customer inquiries through a centralized system.
- Live chat software like Intercom, LiveChat, or Drift offers real-time chat capabilities, allowing instant communication and issue resolution.
- Social media customer service tools allow businesses to manage and respond to customer inquiries on social networks.
Pro tip: If you’re just beginning to build the customer support center, utilize this guide to gain valuable insights and experience.
Moving from customer support interactions, customer analytics platforms provide a method to comprehensively analyze and derive insights from various customer interactions and behaviors.
What are customer analytics platforms?
Customer analytics platforms are tools and software solutions that help businesses gather, analyze, and interpret data related to customer behavior, preferences, and other relevant factors.
These enable companies to make informed decisions to improve customer experiences, optimize marketing strategies, enhance products or services, and drive business growth.
When to use: Customer analytics platforms are best when you’re looking to gather insights from various sources and analyze data comprehensively. They provide a holistic view of customer interactions and behaviors, aiding long-term strategy.
Below are the benefits and factors to keep in mind when utilizing customer analytics platforms to collect feedback from customers.
Gaining deep insights into customer behavior, preferences, and trends requires specialized tools that analyze data to uncover actionable insights:
- CRM software like Salesforce, HubSpot, or Zoho enables businesses to manage customer data, interactions, and communication in one place.
- Customer analytics tools such as Adobe Analytics, Google Analytics, or Mixpanel provide advanced analytics on user behavior on websites and apps.
- Marketing automation platforms like Marketo or Pardot offer customer behavior tracking and automation, enabling personalized marketing strategies.
- Data visualization software like Tableau or Power BI visualize complex data, making it easier to identify patterns and trends.
- Customer segmentation software such as Segment or Optimizely allows businesses to divide their audience into segments for targeted marketing strategies.
Pro tip: Once you’ve gathered all the feedback aligned with your targets, you can effortlessly integrate it into idea and innovation management platforms like PPM Express, which will assist you in determining which insights to transform into actionable steps.
With an understanding of various feedback collection methods, let’s now explore practical strategies for effectively gathering and utilizing customer feedback.
How to collect customer feedback?
Collecting customer feedback is a vital process that guides improvements, enhances customer satisfaction, and drives business growth. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to effectively gather customer feedback:
Step 1: Define your objectives
Begin by clarifying the purpose of collecting feedback. Are you aiming to improve a specific product, enhance customer service, or refine the overall customer experience?
Example: Imagine you run an e-commerce store and want to enhance the online shopping experience for your customers. You want to ask your existing clients about their experience. You can utilize OKRs to establish measurable and achievable goals.
Step 2: Identify feedback methods
In this pivotal stage of your feedback collection strategy, the goal is to carefully select the feedback methods that best align with your overarching objectives and cater to your specific target audience.
Each chosen method should provide insights that contribute to a comprehensive understanding of customer sentiments and preferences.
Example: For instance, you could use surveys, customer analytics, reviews, and social media monitoring to gather all the information about your clients and their preferences. But first, you need to understand which channels your target audience uses the most.
Step 3: Design feedback collection tools
Create well-structured surveys, review prompts, and monitoring strategies. Craft questions that address specific aspects of your objectives and offer options for both quantitative ratings and qualitative responses.
Example: Your survey might include questions about website usability, product selection, checkout process, and overall satisfaction. Review prompts encourage customers to rate their shopping experience and provide comments.
Step 4: Choose feedback channels
Determine where you’ll collect feedback. Opt for channels like surveys, social media monitoring, reviews, and focus groups, aligning them with your objectives.
This step ensures feedback collection across diverse touchpoints for a comprehensive understanding of customer perspectives.
Example: You’ll email surveys to recent customers, place review prompts on product pages, and use social media monitoring tools to track mentions and comments. Customer analytics will help you gather information about your clients’ social and demographic aspects.
Step 5: Collect feedback
Initiate the feedback collection process. Send surveys, encourage customers to leave reviews, monitor social media channels for relevant discussions, and ensure ease of access and user-friendliness for each method.
It’s better to collect all feedback instantly within a unified innovation platform, such as PPM Express. This way, you can gather all feedback, discuss it with your teammates, and take appropriate action.
Example: You send out a post-purchase survey to customers via email, display review prompts after successful purchases, set up social media monitoring tools to track mentions of your brand, and discover dashboards on the customer analytics platform.
What to do with the customer data you have collected?
Turning raw information into actionable insights can significantly impact your business’s success.
Here’s a practical guide on how to effectively utilize the customer data you’ve collected:
Step 6: Organize raw data
Assemble feedback from email surveys, online reviews, and social media comments. Utilize platforms like Google Sheets or Notion to centralize this data and allow streamlined analysis and easy comparison.
To ensure data accuracy and structure, aggregate insights from surveys, reviews, and interactions.
Example: Import survey responses highlighting preferences for improved checkout, collate customer reviews praising product quality, and gather social media mentions discussing desired features.
Step 7: Segment audience
Group customers based on factors such as demographics, purchase history, and feedback sentiment. This segmentation allows you to tailor your approaches to varying customer needs.
Example: Classify your e-commerce customers into distinct segments such as frequent shoppers who value expedited delivery, first-time buyers with specific concerns, and loyal customers who regularly offer feedback. You can use this comprehensive guide to discover how to segment your audience.
Step 8: Identify insights
Scrutinize the collected data to uncover trends and consistent themes. By recognizing patterns and sentiment tones, and addressing root causes, businesses can prioritize actionable recommendations that align with their goals and customer needs.
This phase bridges raw data with strategic decision-making, driving improvements that enhance customer experiences.
Example: As you dive into the data, you recognize a pattern: Customers appreciate the quick shipping times but frequently voice difficulties when navigating your website’s product search and categorization.
Step 9: Prioritize changes
Evaluate feedback to identify critical areas for improvement that will yield the most substantial positive impact on the customer experience. Utilize idea and innovation management platforms like PPM Express to choose ideas that provide the highest value.
Example: Given the consistent feedback regarding navigation issues, you address these urgently by enhancing product search functionality and refining filters for better user interaction. You can use our prioritization framework guide to select the appropriate option.
Step 10: Implement enhancements
After gathering valuable insights from your customers through various feedback methods, the last critical phase is putting those insights into action.
Example: Building upon your insights, you embark on a site redesign journey, incorporating prominent search features, reorganizing product categories, and streamlining the checkout process to ensure a smoother shopping experience for your customers.
The evolution of customer feedback
The journey of customer feedback has evolved dramatically over time, reflecting changes in technology, communication methods, and business practices.
Understanding this evolution provides insights into the growing significance of customer feedback in shaping modern business strategies such as:
- Omnichannel approach: Businesses now gather insights across platforms for a holistic view of the customer journey.
- Collaborative ideation: Customers contribute to product development via platforms like PPM Express.
- AI integration: AI automates sentiment analysis, surveys, and chatbots for efficient data collection.
- Social media impact: Real-time interactions on social media demand swift responses.
- Data-driven era: Advanced analytics turn feedback into personalized insights.
The evolution of customer feedback reflects a fundamental shift towards customer-centricity.
Businesses today recognize that feedback is not just a tool for troubleshooting. It’s a strategic asset that guides decision-making, product development, and customer experience enhancement.
To leverage this evolution, consider using PPM Express’s ideation features, which empower your customers to contribute ideas directly.
Start your free trial of PPM Express today to see the power of customer collaboration in action!