W hile you can do everything in your power to create an excellent product that people love, there’s only so far you can go without asking your customers what they want. While your team uses your product every day, they use it as intended. They don’t see the issues that customers who are using it in new and unusual ways are. That being said, you essentially have a free group of user testers that are champing at the bit to give you insights on how they think your product could be better. And, once you put someone’s ideas into your product, following the rules of reciprocity, they’ll be loyal to you for life. The tricky part is separating the good thoughts from the less insightful (and perhaps noisy) thoughts. Here are some of our best practices to using customer feedback and insights and transmuting it into business gold: customer loyalty.
There are several different ways that you can go about asking questions of your customers, but we’ll cover three main ones here: NPS, Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), and, more informally, within your ongoing customer support conversations. NPS will yield more overarching brand and marketing-related insights, whereas CSAT and talking to customers within your support center will give you more specific feedback on how to make your customer service better and the product easier to use.
If you specifically send out a feedback survey beyond one of these, ask specific, clear questions that are “Yes” or “No” for a majority of the questions and then, just like with NPS or CSAT, give the opportunity for customers to offer more specific, qualitative feedback at the end of the survey. A SurveyMonkey study showed that these closed-ended questions make for great starter questions because they are typically easier to quickly evaluate and complete.
Because these also offer the customer the option to send in additional thoughts on why they scored your company the way they did, or leave the conversation open-ended for the customer to run with, it can be important to direct these insights and feedback in a constructive way. It also means that your customer is effectively an open book, and is signaling a willingness to talk by reaching out in the first place. There are a few great questions to ask that can help get the conversation going and pointed in a constructive direction for both people involved:
Notice that all of these questions are extremely customer-focused and pay attention to what the customer needs, wants and thinks, rather than what you, the company, needs, wants or thinks. Maintain that level of customer-focus throughout the conversation, or you may lose the trust of the customer.
Despite the fact that customer feedback can be useful, interesting and gives you a great deal of insight into what you could be doing better, that doesn’t mean that it needs to be followed or is going to make or break your company. In order to promote customer loyalty throughout the process of gaining and processing feedback, there are a few things that you can do.
First, incentivize the conversation. If you are having an in-depth conversation with a customer of yours about what does and doesn’t work for them, make sure to compensate them for their time. While you could just have the conversation for free, and likely your customer would agree to it, incentives can increase survey response rates by 5 to 20 percent. It also makes the customer feel as though you value their time and aren’t just taking them for granted.
Second, make sure that you set clear expectations with the customer if something is or isn’t going to happen in the near future. You do not need to give them a cut-and-dry timeline unless you have a transparent roadmap on your website, but you should try to be honest about what you can and cannot do. While it may be disappointing to them to hear that something that they want isn’t really in the cards, it’s better than letting them wait for months only to discover that it’s probably never coming. Resist the urge to give exact release dates, because things will inevitably change, and a missed promise is a surefire way to lose trust. Advocate for your customers, even if that means that they leave or don’t give you as much money, and you’ll increase their loyalty and have the potential to gain additional customers through the people they talk to about you.
Remember this sage wisdom from Intercom, even if a customer pays you a ton of money every month: “You wouldn’t propose to someone just because they said they’d date you. So don’t build features just because people said they’d use them.” While you should certainly take it into consideration if a large customer says they are going to churn without a feature, never do anything that doesn’t align with your product vision. Assuaging the concern of one big customer will not make up for the pain felt by many smaller ones.