Why The Pollsters Got It Wrong: A Qualitative Perspective

Although there are multiple types of customer feedback, product feedback (whether for early-stage decisions or measuring established brand awareness) is often the most difficult and expensive type to collect. The unique process and strategy can make that process more clearly defined, and actionable.

customer feedback management

A) Ask For Customer Feedback

Ask your customers for feedback on your product. 

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Develop An Ideas Portal

Outside of traditional customer feedback collection methods like focus groups, there are few options that make curating customer responses so easy. Although an "ideas portal" sounds vague and unstructured, the concept typically manifests as a community forum, which can be monitored by a moderator. 

HubSpot's customer portal, for example, gives a clear timeline from submission to follow-up – cleverly, this avenue of collecting customer feedback also happens to be a part of the customer journey. While an excellent example of how customer feedback should generally be handled, this "ideas portal" allows for community feedback, in addition to expert consultation from HubSpot.

This method is possible because HubSpot cultivates an engaged customer community while ultimately building customer loyalty.

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Another example of a virtual suggestion box (much like a feedback form) is Typeform's streamlined template for customer feedback. Unlike HubSpot's ideas portal, it doesn't involve active moderation. There are also options to gamify the process as a reward for volunteering.

Read: The State of AI in Market Research (eBook)


online suggestion box
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Ask Your Customer Success Team For Feedback

Sometimes, a wealth of customer behavior information can be found internally within your customer support team. Ask your Customer Success team (for B2B services) or Customer Service team (for B2C services) to give you the demo walk-through or elevator pitch that they typically give clients and jog their memory for common customer feedback questions.

Some open-ended questions to ask your team are:

  • What product collateral do you send to customers?
  • What help docs are most commonly used?
  • What are customers disappointed about most often?

Product is another team with specific customer insights, especially when it comes to improving your product. Circle back and close the customer feedback loop with their exclusive knowledge of user experience. 

Although it may seem unusual to gather customer feedback internally first, this process will give you a foundation for future customer surveys, demonstrate how your customer feels, and illuminate the pain points of unhappy customers. 

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Try User Testing

Similar to a focus group, this customer feedback management strategy requires a sample. Like a survey, however, the process of acquiring that sample is less formal and time-consuming. A usability test can take the format of an in-person feedback session. It can also happen through user experience tools like Freshworks, which offers measurement features like heat maps and user session replays.

A user testing process should include the following steps:

  1. Make sure your product is ready for testing
  2. Source your sample 
  3. Write a test outline with a timeline and goals
  4. Conduct the test
  5. Package and present your customer insights 

Rather than conducting a user test on an entire product, start with one feature or pain point and focus on one piece of feedback. If you're interested in what a customer initially sees on your site, then assign the test participant a series of tasks where they interact with your homepage. Put together a test that involves 3 iterations of the same homepage and gauge the usability of each version. This is a great way to measure customer experience. 

Read: 4 Ways to Length Your Product Life Cycle

Source your sample through traditional vendors or through more contemporary methods like Facebook crowdsourcing. Run ads that cater to your audience demographic and incentivize users with gift cards or free trials. 

Next, write an outline for your user test that includes your process timeline (from participant sample procurement to data analysis) and measurable goals: both qualitative and quantitative. 

product user testing

You can carry out the questions in any format, including software like online focus groups to gather and ask questions to a large audience all at the same time. Remesh is one example of a tool with that ability. 

Playing the role of the moderator and the researcher are sometimes separate jobs. Don't have a formal background in interviewing or moderation? Strengthen your skills with professional courses in observing, listening, and empathy. Try a craft of writing class to hone your question-writing style. Or, attend a Toastmasters meeting to re-consider how you perceive the function of a conversation. 

B) Place Customer Feedback In Buckets

This is where your feedback data can get messy. Remember that customer feedback is important for the business at large, and that investing in infrastructure for feedback will inform not only product development but improve customer satisfaction for the future.

Before deciding what tools or styles to use in organizing your feedback, you must bucket the feedback into categories:

  • Major product bugs and minor product bugs
  • Usability issues
  • Feature requests
  • User education issues
  • Pricing/billing
  • Generic positive (e.g. “I love your product!”) and negative feedback (e.g. “I hate your product!”)
  • Junk (this is useful for nonsense feedback like “fabovacuum!”)
  • Other (hard to categorize feedback), which you can re-categorize later as patterns emerge in the rest of the data

This is not an exhaustive list of feedback categories. But, starting here can inspire buckets specific to your business or customer personas, and selecting a method of organization makes it scalable. 

Instead of categorizing all of your data in an Excel file, find a customer feedback management platform that will organize it. However, bucketing various types of data in a CSV file is still possible using a PivotTable or VLOOKUP. 

To create a PivotTable, follow the instructions in this video:


C) Commit To Change Based On Findings

Share your new insights with stakeholders, and implement changes accordingly. Then, follow up with your customer, and ensure them that their voice is heard. 


Internal Feedback Distribution 

The first step toward acting on customer feedback is to share your findings internally with business leaders. This means turning your categorized data into compelling visualizations, and recommendations based on common customer pain points. 

An excellent example of branded video content that turned customer challenges into a narrative is the Buzzfeed/Purina short below.

These product feedback presentations should be relevant to each leader, who will be more likely to act on your findings if presented in a clear, story-like manner. Laying out your data visualization story should look something like this:

  1. Demonstrate Impact. This is a way to highlight the most insightful findings. To make an impression, extract the emotional elements of the data (like quotes, testimonials, and customer stories). Then, frame them in relation to how that affects individual leaders, the team, and the business.
  2. Humanize Your Data. In addition to customer stories, include photos or videos of customers interacting with your brand. The most successful brands are customer-centric, so make sure that's clear in the presentation.
  3. Communicate Visually. Our brains are pre-wired to favor visual communication. Present product feedback as a story in graphs and charts, but also in visual language. Visual language can include elements like your company's logo, colors, font and typography, hierarchies, illustrations, iconography, interactive elements, and so on. Consider what emotion each of these elements carry, and apply them strategically throughout the presentation.

Once you've won over senior leadership with your killer storytelling, it's time to onboard other employees. Sharing high-level insights and action plans help build a culture where employees understand their contributions to the company’s success. And, they feel a sense of ownership in the outcome of the customer experience.

Try sharing feedback with employees through something as basic as a Slack channel, or as measured as a monthly digest. Regardless of your method of distribution, any avenue like word of mouth is better than letting your findings sit in a spreadsheet unused. 


External Feedback Distribution

Here's where the customer feedback loop closes.

Following up with customers on the feedback they provided is arguably the most essential step in this feedback management process. Almost 50% of customers don't leave feedback because they feel a company won't take action on their suggestions. That means companies that passively collect feedback are missing out on a lot of user-generated ideation. Same with those that don't actively make feedback intake accessible.

Another common customer perception of feedback is that it's often too slow. A whopping 81% of customers would leave feedback if company responses were faster. 

There are a number of ways to act on customer feedback, including:

  • Publishing a report detailing how your company has addressed feedback
  • Mail swag boxes or personal notes to people who gave you incredible feedback
  • Personalize an email response thanking them for feedback, or address the email from an executive
  • Set up social accounts dedicated to customer support, including a timeline of expectations
  • Use a public feature request Trello board or Slack channel (like below)
customer feedback process

Ultimately, the product you're ideating and developing is for your customer, meaning there's a clear correlation between customer feedback and ROI.

Another way to think of customer feedback management is in the context of entertainment. Fans obsessively consume content related to their favorite TV shows because it's made easily available to them They collect swag, watch interviews, and interact with actors on social media. Fans aren't asked to participate, but they actively do so because it brings them pleasure. Think of your brand or company as an entertainer - engage, provide support, and offer endless opportunities to consume your product or service and its variations that your customers want. 

Watch: How Real Madrid Turned Customers Into Super Fans [Webinar]

With this foolproof plan, you'll raise the bar of customer expectation, make your customers happy, all while gaining loyal customers and retaining a competitive edge.

Interested in other customer feedback management tools and tricks? Continue reading in our free eBook!{{cta('c3e89d5b-f877-4782-9c29-f3f2a558c554')}}