How to ask for feedback from customers

October 2021
 

Customer feedback is the best way to figure out how your business or product can improve. The problem is customers will rarely provide unprompted feedback.

It’s no secret that a lot of businesses struggle to ask for feedback from customers and collect enough data to make an impact.

Many business owners worry about inconveniencing their customers or getting negative responses. Others are reluctant to invest the time in setting up surveys or customer interviews.

However, there are plenty of benefits of customer feedback. It can highlight blind spots and help you prioritise areas of potential growth. Above all, it stops you spending time on what you think customers want, freeing you up to work on what your customers actually want.

In this article, we’ll look at how to ask for feedback from customers and some of the benefits of getting that feedback.

Why customer feedback matters

Customers don’t just provide a source of income for your business. Talking to your customers can draw out important insights and make your company more productive and profitable.

The benefits of customer feedback:

  • It helps to improve your products and services

  • Collecting feedback shows you value your customers’ opinions

  • It can improve customer retention

  • You can find potential brand advocates

  • You can identify opportunities that you might have overlooked

Common problems with customer feedback

Once you’ve decided to ask your customers for feedback, check you aren’t about to fall into any of these traps.

1. You see customer feedback as a project

Asking for feedback from customers isn’t a project – it’s a process.
 
If you want your feedback to be valuable, you need to view it as something that doesn’t have an end date. Asking for customer feedback should be embedded into your processes, like sending out shipping confirmation emails.

2. You ask for feedback once or twice a year

We’ve all been there. You enthusiastically champion a new idea for a couple of months and then – slide back to your old ways.
 
It’s tough to change up a routine and ingrain an activity in your day-to-day operations. But asking for customer feedback once or twice a year will limit your ability to:
 
a) Respond promptly to issues your customers are experiencing
b) Make informed decisions based on customer data and insights

3. You don’t do anything with the feedback

If you want customers to keep providing feedback, you need to show that you value their responses. Don’t ask for feedback unless you’re willing to spend the time and effort on making changes.

How to ask for feedback from customers

Before you start, think about why you want customer feedback. For example, you might want to improve your payment process or find out if they’re satisfied with your customer service. Without a clear intention, your feedback will be too broad.

Once you understand the reason, you’re collecting feedback, you need to decide on the channel you want to use. The right channel will depend on:

  • Whether you want quantitative (e.g., a score out of five) or qualitative (eg. customer explanations) data
  • The level of customer engagement in different channels
  • The number of questions you want to ask
  • How frequently you want to send the feedback questions

Set your customer feedback questions

Examples of common customer feedback questions include:

  • Where did you first hear about us?
  • How would you describe your buying experience?
  • What’s your favourite part of our [product or service]?
  • What’s the one thing we could do to make your experience better?
  • Do you think our [product or service] is worth the cost?
  • What feature or option could we add to improve it?
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): How likely are you to recommend our products?

NPS works by asking customers how likely they are to recommend a product or service on a scale from zero to 10. These answers are then broken down into three buckets.

  1. Promoters (score 9-10) are enthusiasts who will keep buying products and referring others
  2. Passives (score 7-8) are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who are vulnerable to competitive offerings.
  3. Detractors (score 0-6) are unhappy customers who can damage your brand and impede growth through negative word-of-mouth.

NPS are calculated by subtracting the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters and range from -100 to 100.

Choose a feedback channel

1. Send a follow-up email

Emails are the most popular way to get customer feedback. If you’ve shopped online, you’ll have probably received an email asking you to leave a review for the product or rate your experience.
 
Follow-up emails are usually sent once a product has been delivered or service has been provided. There’s a lot of flexibility with how you frame your follow-up email, whether it’s a call to action directing users to leave a review or an embedded question that requires a one-click response.
 
You can easily try out one method, check your response rate and make improvements where necessary.

2. Send a survey

Surveys are useful if you want feedback to be more detailed. For example, you might want to capture:
  • Demographic data, like location or gender
  • How customers found your business
  • Their experience with your website
  • Whether they’d shop from you again (and if not, why not)

3. Carry out customer interviews

Interviews can help your company learn more about how customers are responding to your product or service.
 
While survey data is useful for quick responses, customer interviews provide insight into their experiences. You’ll learn about why customers choose your product and how they responded to your brand and marketing.

4. Talk to your customer service department

It might seem obvious, but it’s surprising how many businesses aren’t regularly checking in with their customer service department.
 
Your customer service employees get feedback from your customers every day, but it can get lost for a number of reasons. If your company is too siloed, the feedback won’t get passed to the relevant department. Additionally, if your customer service team doesn't have a way to organise the feedback, any trends or useful data go unnoticed.
 
A common solution to this is to invest in customer service software like Zendesk. This software allows you to organise feedback emails into tickets and tag emails by category. For example, you might tag emails under “mobile usability issue” or “new feature recommendation”.
 
The result? At the end of each month, you’ll have an overview of the things your customers care about.

Writing great surveys

Try to keep the customer experience in mind when you’re designing your survey. Customers are less likely to finish a survey if the questions feel personal, irrelevant, or confusing. Worse still, you could leave them feeling frustrated.

Make it as easy as possible for them to fill in the answers. You can do this by including multiple choice questions and minimising the amount of text they need to write. Make sure the language used in your survey fits your brand and the customer experience so far.

Personalisation can help improve response rates. Survey tools like JotForm and Typeform allow you to include information from a subscriber’s email account. You could add someone’s name, company name or other information to save them time and create a better experience.

Don’t collect information you’re not going to use. The longer the survey the less likely someone will complete it and asking for unnecessary personal information can put people off. For example, you could add a drop down to select which region of the country they’re in rather than asking for their address.

Offer an incentive

If you’re using a one-click survey to collect feedback, you can usually get away with not offering an incentive. But if your feedback requires customers to give up some of their time (for example, you want them to fill in a survey or attend an interview) then it helps to provide an incentive.

It’s important to make sure your incentives are offered in an unbiased way. If you send a gift to everyone who leaves a five-star review, you might get glowing testimonials – but the information won’t be useful internally.

Customer feedback for your business

Every company should know how to ask for feedback from customers. While it can be challenging to choose the right channel, message and incentive, experiment until you find a successful process.

The benefits of using digital methods like email or surveys for feedback is that your analytics can let you know where customers are disengaging with the process. If your customers aren’t clicking on the survey, maybe you need a better incentive. Alternatively, if they’re making it halfway through and dropping off, perhaps it’s too long.

Test your method for customer feedback, find what works and make it a regular part of your operations. You’ll find you can make more informed decisions about what your customers want to see in the future. 

How can I ask for feedback from customers?

Customer feedback can highlight blind spots that could be improved and help you prioritise areas of growth.

The benefits of customer feedback:

  • It helps to improve your products and services
  • Collecting feedback shows you value your customers’ opinions
  • It can improve customer retention
  • You can find potential brand advocates
  • You can identify opportunities that you might have overlooked

It’s important to remember that:

  1. Customer feedback is a process, not a project
  2. You need to ask for customer feedback frequently, not once or twice a year
  3. Customers can become disenchanted if you don’t act on the feedback

How to ask for feedback from customers

Step 1: Decide on your intention and channel

Once you understand the reason, you’re collecting feedback, you need to decide on the channel you want to use. The right channel will depend on:

  • Whether you want quantitative or qualitative data
  • The level of customer engagement in different channels
  • The number of questions you want to ask
  • How frequently you want to send the feedback questions

Step 2: Choose a feedback channel

Common options include:

  • Sending a follow-up email
  • Sending out a survey
  • Running customer interviews
  • Talking to your customer service department

Step 3: Think about whether you need an incentive

If your feedback requires customers to give up some of their time (for example, you want them to fill in a survey or attend an interview) then it helps to provide an incentive.

 

 

This article was written and originally published by The Productivity Group (trading as Be the Business). Be the Business is an independent, not for profit organisation set up to help business owners and leaders improve the performance of their business. © Copyright 2021 The Productivity Group.  All rights reserved.

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