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How to use customer feedback management to fuel business growth

Learn how customer feedback management works and how it can help your business grow.

Photograph of two people using customer feedback management to help customers.

Growing your business isn’t something that happens overnight or without effort. For many businesses, rolling out new products, sales, and marketing initiatives are the biggest drivers of growth. While getting new customers in the door is important, focusing on existing customers can also create growth (usually for much less than attracting a new customer). To understand how to better serve your customers, it’s important to have customer feedback management tools.

Let’s take a look at what customer feedback management is and how it can fuel growth and improve customer engagement

What is customer feedback management?

Customer feedback management is the practice of collecting and analyzing information about what is and isn’t working in the customer’s journey to create a better experience for current and future customers. 

You can collect feedback through customer service channels, post-purchase surveys, support tickets, emails, and customer interviews. After you've collected and sorted the feedback, internal teams can figure out how to fix problems, streamline processes, and implement those changes. Because the changes solve customer pain points, the process helps build customer trust and loyalty.  

You can think of customer feedback management as a loop, an unending chain of listening and creating better processes.

How to manage customer feedback

One way to visualize this customer feedback management loop is to use the ACAF system, which stands for Ask, Categorize, Act, and Follow-up. Using this formula, you’ll be able to effectively repeat the steps needed to continually improve the customer experience based on the feedback you get.

Ask for feedback 

To start improving your customer experience, you need to find out exactly what's working and what isn't. The best way to do this is by simply asking your customers. Depending on your goals, this might mean creating a cross-channel strategy to gather a huge amount of data as quickly as possible, or it might mean a gradual rollout across channels over several months. 

There’s no one right way to ask for feedback, just like there is no one channel that will give you the best results. Some of the most common channels you might use to interact with your customers include:

  • Email

  • Your app

  • Social media

  • Website

  • Phone

  • Text message

Each of these channels has its own strengths and weaknesses, but each one will provide you with some sort of information from certain segments of your customer base that the others may not. That’s why it’s vital to have some way of collecting feedback and channeling it to the right people for analysis. 

Categorize feedback

Categorizing feedback might seem like a daunting task, especially if you’re working with a large volume of it. But this is one of the most important parts of the process because:

  1. It's how you'll determine if a piece of feedback is actionable or not

  2. Categorizing feedback will reveal common threads (or trends) 

  3. The trends you discover will help you create goals and build new processes

Actionable and non-actionable feedback

  • Actionable feedback is any feedback you can do something about. This might include feedback about a part of your website that doesn’t work correctly or a complaint about a product. With actionable feedback, you can make a change or an improvement to prevent the same negative things from happening again. 

  • Non-actionable feedback isn’t about changing or improving the function of a product, service, or channel. For example, the customer might tell you about a time your product or service was helpful. While you can’t use this type of feedback to make changes, it may be useful as a testimonial (with the customer’s permission, of course).

Identifying trends

Identifying trends as you categorize feedback will give you a lot of insight into how the customer journey is falling short. You may notice a consistent issue or complaint across channels. Pay close attention to them, as these trends point directly to an area that needs improvement.

Keep an eye on what you hear or see in poll responses compared to the data you’ve gathered about customer behavior, like time on site or how frequently a customer logs into their account. There can be real differences between qualitative and quantitative data, so make sure you aren’t identifying trends that aren’t backed up by the numbers.

If you’ve made it this far, it’s time to act.

Act on feedback

Acting on feedback doesn’t mean you start taking action on every issue that comes up. Acting on client feedback starts with creating goals. Once you have goals in place, you can begin acting internally and externally.

Creating goals

After dividing feedback into actionable and non-actionable groups and identifying trends, the next step is setting goals for what your business wants to accomplish as it addresses customer feedback. While the overall goal is to improve profitability and grow your business, remember that improving the customer experience is one of the best paths to get there.

Creating goals isn’t always easy, especially when multiple stakeholders are involved. But by keeping your goals SMART, you’ll be able to see when and if these goals are met. SMART is an acronym for:

  • Specific: The more specific a goal, the less confusing it'll be. 

  • Measurable: Goals have to have criteria you can judge them by. This can be a simple pass-fail, or it can be a spectrum from failure to success. 

  • Achievable: Goals must be achievable by the team you have. Setting impossible goals is a waste of time and effort. 

  • Relevant: Goals need to be pushing you toward a specific outcome. The work you’re doing has to be tied to that outcome.

  • Time-bound: Goals need to have a deadline. You may have several dates, including when certain tasks need to be completed and when you’ll review the results of the work.

Acting internally

To bring the changes you need to make to fruition, you need to start with your internal team. While the focus is on improving the customer experience, it will be your team’s responsibility to fix the issues and implement the new strategies to help your customers. 

Designate action items to the appropriate teams with relevant findings, goals, and implementation strategies to get them started.

Acting externally

Your internal teams will perform the work needed to impact external customers. Depending on your goals, your customers may only notice changes in the areas where they had difficulties before, or you might invite them to take a more active role in improving your products and services. This can mean more frequent survey invitations, in-app or on-site micro-surveys and ratings, and other methods of gathering feedback.

Follow up on feedback

Following up is a multi-step process where you track changes, record responses, and then use that information to further improve upon the changes you’ve made and tackle any new issues that have sprung up. 

Tracking and quantifying results

Track your progress based on the SMART goals you set. Assigning a number or letter grade to the changes will make quantifying your results easier. If possible, try to collect and track all results in one place. This will give the project leader the information they need to determine when something is finished and will make reporting on the success of these changes go more smoothly.

Refining and building new processes

Creating a new process will probably lead to other issues or reveal deficiencies in other places you weren’t aware of. But because the ACAF system is designed as a loop, constant refinement and implementation are natural.

Why you need customer feedback management 

Managing customer feedback can be time-consuming, but it’s important for strengthening customer relationships and growing your business. Here are a few reasons why having a customer feedback management process in place is vital: 

  • It's easier to track feedback after a product launch or update

  • It allows for better, data-driven decision making

  • It creates opportunities for innovation using customer feedback

  • It shows customers your business is listening to their complaints or ideas

When your team manages feedback properly and uses it to create new initiatives, products, and customer service policies, your business may see improved growth. That's because:

  • Keeping existing customers is less expensive than attracting new ones

  • Happy customers can become unofficial brand ambassadors who recommend products and services

  • Using the information you learned from customers can help refine product or service offerings

  • Customer feedback can lead to more specific, better-targeted marketing materials

What is the customer feedback loop?

The customer feedback loop is the continuous process of receiving feedback from customers and responding to it. That might mean sending a return email, or it could be as complex as overhauling your entire customer journey. In its simplest form, it looks like this:

  1. A customer has an issue or a suggestion. They share it with the company via chatbot, email, or another channel.

  2. The business analyzes and tracks that feedback.

  3. Using the feedback they receive, the business develops a plan to fix known problems or revamp a process or part of the customer journey to reduce or eliminate known pain points.

  4. The business rolls out these changes and begins tracking and analyzing new feedback to enhance the customer experience.

Types of feedback

There are two main types of feedback: direct and indirect. Both are valuable, but they require different strategies. Here are a few examples of direct and indirect feedback:

Direct

  • Post-purchase surveys

  • Customer support chats

  • Customer support calls

  • Pop-up surveys

  • Requests for features

  • Usability testing results

  • Customer satisfaction surveys

  • Feedback on social media accounts

Indirect

  • Third-party review site ratings 

  • Shopping behavior changes

  • Social media posts about your company and products

  • Loss of subscribers on mailing lists

  • Discussion about your company online (Reddit, for example)

There are several metrics designed to give you more specific feedback about what is and isn’t working for your customers. These metrics collect and analyze customer feedback and qualitative data like site visits, clicks, and sales. 

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): This rating lets you gauge customer loyalty by asking them to provide a rating between 1-10 of how likely they are to recommend your company. You determine the score by subtracting the number of people rating you between 1-6 (detractors) from the number of people rating you 9-10 (promoters). 7 and 8 scores are “passives” meaning they won’t have much impact either way, but because they are close enough to promoters, it makes sense to invest time in figuring out how to get them to score higher. 

  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT): This shows how well your site meets customer expectations. The customer answers the question: On a scale of 1 (very unsatisfied) to 5 (very satisfied), how do you rate your overall satisfaction with this transaction? Divide the 4 and 5 ratings by the total number of responses to get the CSAT.

  • Goal Completion Rate (GCR): This metric shows how many visitors have taken a particular action on your app or site. This could mean clicking on a specific button on a page, signing up for an email list, or buying something. Calculate GCR by dividing the number of visitors by the number of completed goals.

  • Customer Effort Score (CES): This metric uses a scale of 1-7 to rate how easily users were able to navigate your site, make a purchase, or solve an issue. Add up all 5-7 scores, divide that number by the total number of responses, and multiply by 100 to get a score between 1 and 100.

Customer feedback management example

For this example, let's imagine a clothing company that specializes in athletic wear for rock climbers. This company has a website where they offer all of their products. To ensure customer problems are dealt with quickly, the company has created a customer feedback management system that prioritizes fixing checkout issues. 

They shared a list of known issues with the sales, web development, and customer service teams. With that list, they shared instructions with the customer service team to pass new issues directly to the web development team and to track instances of known issues in a spreadsheet.  

Phase 1: A customer adds a few items to their cart, but when they go to checkout, the site empties their cart and sends them back to the homepage. The customer sends a ticket using the AI-powered pop-up assistant on the homepage.

Phase 2: That ticket arrives in the mailbox of the company’s customer service manager. The customer service manager checks their internal knowledge base to compare the problem to other known issues. 

This problem is new. They forward it to the web development team.

Phase 3: The web development team examines the ticket, replicates the issues, determines the cause, and fixes it. They record this issue in the spreadsheet and mark it as resolved. 

Phase 4: The customer service manager responds to the ticket to let the customer know that the problem has been solved. At the end of the message is a link to a CES survey. After the customer completes the survey, the customer service manager records the response in the shared spreadsheet. 

Phase 5: Later that week, the web development team issues a report covering new issues and their solutions, along with the survey responses.

Best customer feedback management software

Handling customer feedback is much easier when you have the right tools. When weighing your options, look for flexible, powerful software that'll integrate with your existing stack. Here are a few pieces of software that can transform how you collect, analyze, and improve your customers’ experience. 

Typeform

Typeform is a platform that allows you to create interactive forms and surveys you can embed on your site, share via email, or add to a social media post. Typeform’s forms are user-friendly and mimic a real conversation by asking one question at a time. The platform collects data and thoroughly analyzes it to help you make better decisions about your customer feedback management.

Userpilot

Userpilot lets users create surveys for different parts of a customer’s journey. With templates and event triggers, you can collect feedback using several metrics. 

Chisel

You can build surveys with Chisel and use it to collect data from customers and internal team members to aid in feedback management and product refinement.  

Formstack

Formstack is a form-building platform frequently compared to Typeform. While Formstack offers many of the same features as Typeform, it doesn’t have integrated AI for real-time form responses.  

Zonka

If your company has many different channels, Zonka can help collect and collate feedback from all your channels. Zonka can gather data from SMS, email, in-app, and site-based channels.

Canny

Canny allows users to collect feedback for products to build roadmaps for improvements and new iterations. Inform users of new features with built-in product updates.

Zendesk

Zendesk has integrations for many platforms that allow for better customer service with built-in AI, ticket automation, and analytics. 

Better customer feedback, better business

Typeform makes it easy for you to create forms that integrate naturally into your site and ask the right questions at the right time. From improving email list sign-ups to gathering and analyzing the success of a survey, Typeform makes learning more about your customers and how to serve them easier.

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