Did you ever have a boss that didn't communicate very much with you? Have you ever dreaded a performance review because you had no idea what was going to transpire?
It's an awful but all too common style of management (and one that's basically banned here at Access). One of the keys to a great relationship - professional or otherwise - is communication. Ideally, there shouldn't be any mystery about where people stand.
Now instead of your boss, think about your customers. Where does your company stand with them? Do you only hear from them when they're pissed off?
Do you hear from them at all?
Acquiring customer feedback isn't as easy as it sounds. As it stands, most companies only hear from their customers after a bad experience - which is important, but there's a larger opportunity to grab feedback from them when they're happy. Or when they're not even a customer yet. Or when they're simply test driving a product or service.
20 Ideas to Generate More Customer Feedback
Here are a few ideas and best practices on how to open the floodgates of feedback, which can (and should) inform every aspect of an organization.
- Add an option to leave feedback on every communication channel. Add a phone number to every printed piece, an email link or feedback form on every web page, and yes, give people the opportunity to respond to every email. No more "firstname.lastname@example.org".
- Find them when they’re happy. It's important to get perspectives from all angles - not just upset customers. The input of your most satisfied customers is just as significant, especially in terms of future additions and improvements.
- Send out regular surveys. A common, effective tactic. Sometimes people just need to be asked. Try sending out regular, shorter surveys that are focused on specific areas, in lieu of gigantic, annual surveys.
- Monitor social media. Odds are people are already talking about your brand. Find these conversations and respond.
- Offer "beta" access. Beta testing new products or features is important in product development. It's also a great way to get customers providing feedback (and they'll feel like being included is a reward of its own).
- Offer a Reward. It doesn't take much to incentivize people to provide feedback. A chance to win an Amazon gift card, some Starbucks, even a deep discount at a popular retailer will boost your response rates. (And we can help with the deep discount.)
- Offer anonymity, and the option to talk. Let's be honest: we all say things anonymously that we would never say if our names had to be attached to it. In customer feedback, accountability is on the brand, not the customer. Let them be anonymous, with the option of being identified for follow-ups and giveaways.
- Dial for details. If you're not doing this already, give it a try. Call customers up randomly, check in, and ask specific questions about their experience. Again, don't wait until they're no longer a customer.
- Communicate how well you responded. Statistics show that people want to feel like they have a say in how companies operate and develop products. Showing customers how responsive you are to their requests will bring in even more feedback. People want to be involved.
- Ask in person. This isn't just for those who have a brick-and-mortar location - anytime you're with a customer, ask for feedback. If your brand is a brick-and-mortar office, don't just go with the usual, "Did you find everything you were looking for today?” grocery store question. Be more specific. Ask something that they might actually be honest about. “Did anyone ask if you needed assistance?” “Do you think we offer enough variety of this product?” “Are there any products you wish we carried?” Keep it to one question, don’t go overboard. But record those offhand remarks, and you’ll have something substantial over time.
- Put a face and a name on it. Their title doesn't have to be "Feedback Czar", but it's good to have people - not titles - who interface with customers online. Send emails from a person, tweet as a person, and so on. Great example of this is @ComcastCares.
- Reward people when they do solicit feedback. One of our favorite examples of this is how Spotify rewards customers who report bugs.
- Increase your frequency. If you're already soliciting feedback, increase your frequency. Don't spam your entire customer base - segment them out, and constantly send out short, specific surveys that they can accomplish in a matter of minutes.
- Monitor the web. While social is the dominant dialog channel online, plenty of conversations are happening across the web in forums, blog comments, and news sites. Again, find these conversations and respond.
- Be specific. And vague. Ask specific questions, but ALWAYS give people a chance to throw whatever comments they feel like making out there. The "Additional Comments" box at the end of a survey may not always be filled in, but when it is, it's usually filled with good intel.
- Don’t be pushy. Feedback popups on websites are okay, to an extent. Nothing is worse than going to a web page for the first time and getting a popup begging for feedback. "I just got here, leave me alone!" Give people some time to actually try the site (or your product) for a bit before asking.
- Pre-paid post cards. Make a pre-paid postcard with a few simple questions. Give them to people after they pay, tell them to fill it out and throw it in the mail, no charge to them.
- Offer post-interaction feedback. For every call that comes into your contact center, ask people at the beginning of the call if they'd like to provide feedback. Put a note on their receipt. Have your staff make a personal appeal. Customers should be able to respond after every interaction (and know that someone is listening).
- Crowdsource product development. This has been done for a while in software (though it could be done for any industry), Salesforce and others allow users to submit changes they’d like to see, and others can vote on it. It's public, which means higher pressure - but greater rewards when you come through.
- Share your findings with each other. Think about all the folks in an organization who receive feedback from customers: sales reps, executives, contact center reps, account managers, and so many others. So many great comments are made in casual conversation that never see the light of day. Encouraging employees to compile these comments - no matter how seemingly innocuous - in a central repository is another way to find nuggets of wisdom and drive organizational commitment to listening.
Customer feedback is a potential boon to every business. Without it, people work blindly, keeping their fingers crossed that everything is okay.
With it, companies get a clear roadmap of what's working and what isn't, not to mention tighter relationships with customers (who feel important and valued). The end result is customer loyalty and an active base of enthusiastic fans.
There isn't a magic bullet to bringing in more customer feedback. It really boils down to two aspects:
- Frequently asking for it
- Leaving the door open for customers to leave it themselves
But having it is so much better than flying blindly. Cut out the mystery and start talking.