What is customer feedback?
Customer feedback is increasingly important in the business world. It isn’t just about tracking the happiness of customers, but also about gathering useful data on how to improve your processes. But to get to the crux of the matter, you need to know exactly what customer feedback is, and we can give you the full run-down.
Feedback is often confused with reviews and testimonials. Though they’re similar, these three formats actually offer their own unique set of problems and solutions. Reviews are unsolicited and independent from your business, commonly found on sites like Google Reviews or Trip Advisor. Testimonials are customer stories shared to testify to their experience with a business, often on the business’ own website. But feedback is when a business seeks out information from a customer to gauge how their interaction was with the business.
Customer feedback is:
- Solicited, meaning you ask for it directly.
- Designed to collect information so that you can learn from their story and take action accordingly.
- Can be customised to refer to a specific product or service, or the business as a whole.
- Internal, meaning only the business can see the collected information.
According to HubSpot research, 42% of businesses are not taking the time to invest in a customer feedback system. That means there are thousands of customers with valuable, actionable information that is simply going unheard. Without that information, how can these businesses know the best actions to take to retain customers and encourage repeat purchases?
If you do embrace the value of customer feedback, you’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of your competitors, and far closer to fixing any issues your customers are facing.
Why is customer feedback important?
Information is like gold for businesses. To know what the best practices are, and the best actions to take, you need to be well informed, and asking for feedback is an excellent way to make that happen. Existing customers can give you free, honest and insightful information straight from the source, why would you pass that up?
Knowing your strengths and weaknesses allows you to understand what you’re doing well, and what needs your attention. By failing to ask for feedback, you could be changing processes that don’t need changing or looking for the same advice from an expensive business consultant. Collecting feedback is an affordable, more effective way to find out exactly what you need to know.
According to research by Salesforce, 78% of consumers will return to a business if the customer service was good, even after the company made a mistake. Similarly, Hubspot found that 93% are likely to make repeat purchases if they had the right support in the first instance. Knowing this, you’ll want to make sure your customer service team is delivering the best possible assistance to your customers. But without customer feedback, you won’t have the most accurate information. If your customers are leaving, or telling others about a bad experience they’ve had with you, you need to know why so that you can make the relevant changes.
Is implicit or explicit feedback more important?
Knowing the different types of feedback your customers can give allows you to gather as much data as possible. There is a range of feedback channels, even some you might not initially realise. These subtler forms of feedback are known as implicit feedback because the information is implied, rather than given directly.
Implicit feedback could include actions like:
- Moving to a competitor after interacting with your brand.
- Cancelling a membership with your business.
- Visiting your FAQ webpage too frequently.
Explicit feedback is more overt, apparent, and intended by the customer:
- Face-to-face interactions.
- Surveys, online or hard copy.
- Phone call.
- Social media.
- Direct message or chat functions.
Unfortunately, there isn’t just one feedback type that ticks all the boxes. If you’re wanting to maximise the information you collect from feedback, you need to know the full scope of methods your customers have access to, both implicit and explicit.
Ways to gather feedback
To save you time, we’ve collated a list of the most common and effective formats for gathering customer feedback. Each one offers something unique, meaning your customers will be able to find the one, or few, that work best for them. Some examples include:
- Text messages.
- Phone surveys.
- Postal questionnaires.
- Online customer feedback surveys.
- Face-to-face surveys and focus groups.
These platforms are constantly evolving and there are always new ones developing. To capitalise on customer feedback you can use multiple channels to capture information from as many customers as possible.
Keeping up with the changes in feedback channels can be a challenge because technology and market patterns are constantly evolving. Many businesses are finding that collating all the different tracks of feedback into one central place is crucial for keeping up with developments. Here’s a list of some of the most popular feedback tools:
- Customer feedback platforms for surveys
- Phone interviews
- Online live chats
- Support tickets
- Knowledge centres/self-help hubs
- Call management
- Social listening
Customer feedback platforms are popular because they simplify and streamline the feedback process. They can integrate with your CRM to give you the most thorough, structured, and easy-to-use tool for all your customer feedback, all in one place.
Leveraging customer feedback for growth
The most important thing to remember about customer feedback is that you have to make use of it. Even with a state of the art feedback system, and all the right survey questions, none of it will matter if you don’t follow it with action. If you do use customer feedback for growth your customers will appreciate you taking steps to resolve any issues they’ve raised, and it will give them the reassurance they need to continue engaging with your business.
Once you’ve received feedback, the next step is to make the most of it by:
- Circulating the key findings with everyone in your company, especially internal leadership.
- Encouraging customers to give public reviews.
- Adapting any internal processes to resolve the issues raised.
Taking advantage of customer feedback can be a daunting task, but with the right tools, it can be easy. Now that you have a good idea of what customer feedback is, you can confidently seek it out knowing it will contribute valuable information to your business and processes.
For a more comprehensive framework to follow, download our guide to implementing a customer feedback strategy.