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5.

Taking Action
on Collected Feedback

The biggest mistake a company can make when running surveys or taking in suggestions from social media or otherwise is not doing something with the feedback once it is received. It is vital that when feedback is given it is acknowledged regardless whether it is positive or negative.

An acknowledgment could be a simple thank you, a response that shows you are taking some action, a timeline when the customer can expect follow-up, or next steps to progress the issue. According to Business Insider:

More than half of all companies are not translating customer observations or feedback into actions that can drive performance for their organizations. We learn much. We don’t execute enough, or leverage what we learn in the most meaningful way.

What does actioning feedback mean and how can you use it to make a positive impact on your business?

Action all the Feedback

All feedback is valid and needs to be actioned. It is human nature to want to ignore bad feedback or feedback with which you disagree while celebrating good feedback. This behavior leads to serious problems for your organization in the form of blind spots in trends, changing sentiment, or market direction. Missing these movements can result in customers not feeling heard, reduction in loyalty, increased churn rate or being surpassed in the market by a competitor.

The action you take will depend on the feedback itself. Real-time actions can be things like changing a policy or process or fixing a bug. Longer term actions should be fed into a process that has accountability and updates, for example, on a product roadmap or as an agenda item at a management meeting. Sometimes, there may not be an action at all, but there still needs to be recognition and potentially documentation to show that you have, at a minimum, considered the feedback.

Like we mentioned earlier, we get a lot of feedback ourselves from our customers. Most feature requests and suggestions are reasonable, but if we acted on all of them, Chatra would become cluttered with features that only help a few customers but add complexity for everyone. Our top priority is to keep Chatra simple and easy to use, so we analyze every piece of feedback we receive, and say no to a lot of them. Don’t worry if you can’t meet the expectations of certain customers: it’s impossible to please everyone.

Try Chatra to see how a simple and easy chat tool can still be powerful.

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Responding to Feedback

The very first thing you should do when you receive new feedback is to decide whether it needs a reply. Spoiler alert: almost all feedback will need a reply. When customers take the time to let you know how they feel, the very least you can do is respond to them. How you respond will depend on the type and tone of the feedback. Aim to reply to feedback at a similar speed as you reply to customer support tickets — usually within 24 hours over email and more quickly over social media.

For positive feedback, respond with a thank you and an assurance that, if there is ever a problem, you are there to listen. Simply letting the customer know you’ve read the comment and appreciate their business is almost always enough.

Hi Sarah!

Thank you so much for taking the time to let us know that the new reporting feature was helpful to your team. We love hearing that and will certainly pass on your kind words to the engineering team who is hard at work developing even more new features for you! If there’s anything else we can do for you, don’t hesitate to get in touch. :)

Sincerely,
Amber
Customer Support

When feedback is negative, you should also take the time to let the customer know what you are doing about their concern, when they can expect a response or some follow-up action on it, or if you have a solution.

Hi Sarah!

Thank you so much for writing in regarding your experience using the new reporting feature. I can definitely understand your frustration with the loading time. I want to assure you that we’re continuing to work on improving the speed of the service over the next few weeks. I’ve forwarded your specific concern to our engineering team and I’ll follow up with you directly when they’ve implemented a fix. Thanks again for writing in and for your patience while we act on your feedback. If there’s anything I can help with in the meantime, please let me know. I’m here to help!

Sincerely,
Amber
Customer Support

Many companies don’t reply personally to all feedback, so taking the time to respond will make you stand out from your competitors!

Create an action plan

After responding to the feedback have the feedback assigned to some set of actions:

Type of Feedback Action Examples
Neutral None Some comments and feedback need no response. This could be a positive or neutral comment such as “Thanks” or “Keep doing great work!”
Feature Requests Document product feedback If the feedback is asking for a product change or a new feature, feed this into your Product Management process. This could mean logging a new feature request or submitting survey aggregations into a product planning cycle or further use cases for existing product research. Eg. “Would love if your product would allow me to….”, “It is a real pain that I have to click multiple times to…”
Help Needed Create a support ticket Sometimes customers ask for assistance in their survey responses. Other times they ask for you to add something specific that already exists in the product — they just need to be shown how to do it. These types of responses should create cases in your support ticketing system and the follow-up should come from your support team. Eg. “I had trouble with trying to…”, “Could someone explain how to…”
Churn Risk Bring in customer success If you see a comment that a customer is unable to be successful with your tool, you should assign a task to the Customer Success Manager or Account Manager. This is especially true if the comment hints at churn, or switching to a competitor. The account team is best equipped to contact the customer and help them achieve their desired outcomes. “Your tool isn’t helping me to save time.”, “I can’t get the data I need out of your system.”
Positive Customer Feedback Connect with the marketing team Positive feedback needs to be actioned too! If a customer is over the moon with your company, connect them with your marketing team to see if they can act as a customer reference or become a case study.

These are just some of the types of feedback you might see. If you have other types of feedback being sent to you, create action plans for those as well.

Turning Qualitative Data into Insight

One of the biggest problems with passing feedback to other teams is the potential to include bias or focus on anecdotes. While emotionally charged feedback can help to prove a point, it’s not always the most important. For example, which feedback is more urgent: 20 loyal customers asking politely about a small change or one customer screaming about their item they bought on sale? Without a set method of quantifying feedback, it can be very difficult to make data-driven decisions.

When trying to extract meaning from thousands of user feedback comments, it’s critical to turn words into quantitative data. That means looking objectively at the value of each piece of feedback, the overall volume, sentiment of each comment and the ROI of acting on the feedback.

  1. Connect feedback to customer accounts to calculate the impacted revenue and associated lifetime value. Moving your NPS score from 35 to 70 is a meaningful goal, but how will that actually impact your business? Are you catering to free or discounted customers? Or are you acting on feedback that meets the needs of your highest value customers? Without associating feedback to a customer’s history and context, it’s impossible to answer these decisions. When presenting feedback to product teams or the executive team, statements should sound like the following:
    1. 30% of our enterprise users have mentioned the reporting system in feedback with negative sentiment.
    2. Customers who spend more than $100 per order frequently mention the customer service in their feedback.
    3. Of the customers who churned last month, 10% mentioned the speed of service as a reason for leaving.
  2. Use machine learning and natural language processing to uncover sentiment and themes at scale. This is a new opportunity available to almost every business now. Where big data processing used to be exclusively available to corporations with big budgets to match, new technology has made sentiment and theme analysis available to everyone — often very cost effectively. Humans have their own bias when it comes to reading feedback. We tend to give more weight to feedback that supports our own opinions and discount feedback that doesn’t align with our own views. Machine Learning can overcome this bias and uncover trends that humans didn’t even think to look for. This is even more important when you see thousands of customer comments and conversations. Each agent can only read a small slice of the overall information (for example, one agent might respond to 2% of your total ticket volume). At this scale, no agent has a big enough view to accurately understand what customers want — they don’t have an effective sample size to pull from. In this case, using technology to analyze text based feedback can help to quantify it.

Once you’ve turned your customer comments into quantitative feedback you can use it to inform your strategy going forward. Connecting feedback to the bottom line means that you can be confident in your decision making and action plans.

Assign Ownership & Accountability

To ensure the action plans you’ve created are executed, every piece of feedback needs an owner assigned to it. This accountability ensures that there is someone responsible for taking action or reporting back when something has been done.

Start with assigning an overall owner of customer feedback. Typically a team like Support, Success or Marketing drives these initiatives. Some companies hire a specific role for managing the customer journey, NPS or Voice of Customer program, and surveying and feedback gathering should be a top priority within that job description. Once the overall ownership is assigned, then you can start to determine who should be involved in the actions. At a high level, you may see feedback that involves product, process, support questions or driving success. A good plan will involve stakeholders from those departments.

Within the process, nominate some person or team to triage incoming feedback. The more centralized the feedback is, the better you will be able to organize it. As discussed above, having tightly integrated tooling is vital to success. The triage person assigns the ownership to the responsible party.

It also helps when there is documentation of who has taken action and what that action was. Having this accountability means that if similar comments are submitted later, you can see who made the decision, why it was made, and when it was last revisited. This allows you to reuse the responses, or if further context is added or changed, you can easily re-evaluate the response.

This level of accountability can be challenging to scale efficiently. Depending on the type and size of your business, a personalized response may not be feasible or practical. To solve this problem, group similar comments into some outward facing communication, such as a community tool, ideation software, or a newsletter. Highlight the common feedback and your response. If there are solutions, point to reusable content such as knowledge base articles or a video. Even large volume organizations need to show they are listening to feedback. All customers want their opinion to be heard regardless of the size of your business. Actively listening and responding promptly is one major way to drive loyalty, renewals, and promoters amongst your customer base.

The Feedback Loop

You are never “done” improving. Taking in feedback, actioning it and re-assessing your decisions is an ongoing process where you are constantly asking questions and making changes. As a best practice, have frequent set times throughout your year to review your successes and failures with a team of cross-functional stakeholders.

A/B testing is a way of trying multiple solutions to a problem and assessing which one has the most success. The different designs or solutions are presented at random to users of your website or application and in the background, you use a tool to measure how each one performs. This method of taking in feedback has become incredibly important to software these days. Amazon is an exemplar in this area. They are constantly running split tests to understand which UI changes, color, or phrasing attracts more clicks. In 2017 they ran 7000 tests which all gave them valuable information on how to change for the better. When you receive feedback that may have multiple solutions, A/B testing is a great way to validate your solution choices. Once you’ve proven something works, move forward with the next test.

Regardless of what action is taken, part of good surveying techniques is to measure the reaction to the change(s). Over time, trending your customers' reactions can help you to make better decisions. You can track this through survey responses, sentiment analysis of social media posts, or by using Net Promoter Score. Analyze those metrics and find out if you made the problem worse or better. Either way, what do you do with that information? Well, that is just another piece of feedback that you feed back into the same process. It’s a loop!