Do you want to have a successful business? Do you want to have a growing customer base and users that not only use your product but also recommend it to others? Then grab your pen and listen to their feedback.
Customer feedback is one of the most valuable resources for improving your product and can help you not only to keep customers but also to create a community of raving fans, who will recommend your service for free. Even though customer feedback is essential, most companies either don’t gather feedback regularly or neglect it altogether.
Why, you ask?
Many companies are convinced they know their product better than their customers and thus can better decide, what features to develop and what not. Despite some truth in this statement, the users are going to use your service, and if they are not happy with your product and cannot reach their goals, they are going to abandon it.
The second reason companies often neglect collecting feedback is that if you ask the wrong questions or try to push the conversation in a certain direction, the results will be of little value. However, gathering user feedback does not have to be daunting.
In this article, we cover everything you need to know about customer/user feedback: How to ask for user feedback, the best channels, the biggest mistakes you need to avoid and the best tools and methods you can use to gather valuable information.
Let’s get started.
What is customer feedback?
Customer feedback refers to information, issues, and opinions your users have about your product. These insights are valuable for improving the customer experience and for helping you to align your service more towards your users’ needs. If you want to understand how people are using your service and how to make them successful, feedback is mandatory.
Also, quality customer feedback enables you to gain insights into your product, helps you to make improvements, and even supports you in acquiring new customers by improving your service. In short, to stay ahead of the competition, listen to your users.
User feedback comes from multiple sources and in many ways. You cannot pin down what kind of feedback method is most valuable, because this depends on the stage your business is in
. For example, when you founded your Startup and want to get early feedback for your idea, big surveys are not constructive. Rather, look for 1-on-1 interviews or try to grab feedback via social media.
The most common ways to gather feedback are:
• Product reviews
• Call center data
• Live chat conversations
• Community forums
• Social media
• Customer service teams
Why should you seek customer feedback and why is it important?
Customer feedback is one of the building blocks for every successful business and can serve as a guiding resource for your company. Not understanding your users and developing your service in a black box is almost a guarantee for failure. Here is an overview of some key benefits of gathering customer feedback:
Enhanced customer experience
When you create a product, you would think you know how users are going to use it – you designed it at least. Yet, you would be surprised how often people use products differently than you expected them to do. Seeing your business through your customers’ eyes – for example, via interviews – will help you better understand them and help you improve the customer experience for your service.
Reduced business risk
Most of the time, the founding team or the marketing team have a list of features and improvements they want to make. Some of them seem more important, some of them seem just nice to have. But how would you know which features to tackle next? By expertise? In fact, you can only know this if you ask your users. The reason for that is simple. You are NOT your users. So, instead of prioritizing features you like, it is better to ask them what improvements they need in order to be successful.
A good way to do so is the Kano-model
, which helps your team to rank features based on the expected impact on customer satisfaction. This way you will not find yourself in the situation of having a product or a service that costs a ton of money and nobody wants.
Improved customer loyalty
Humans like to be listened to, so listening to your users increases their satisfaction and encourages them to continue doing business with you. In addition, by implementing customer feedback in your product, you show customers that their feedback is valuable, and that it is taken seriously. This, in return, will create loyalty and ambassadors for your product.
Product and service innovation
If you want to get new customers or keep customers, it is necessary to improve your service. However, not knowing what your customers need to be successful will leave you with guesswork. Before implementing new features that cost a ton of money to develop, I recommend conducting customer feedback in the first place. Resources on how to build a successful business
Are customers demanding this new feature or is it nice to have? Does it impact your customer’s life? Answering these questions before implementing new features is crucial to avoid costly updates that nobody wants.
Having great customer feedback is crucial to the success of any business. By great customer feedback, I don't mean to say that a business needs to have a good set of reviews or positive reviews. Instead, great feedback means having feedback that can actually add value to your business in terms of improving your product, service, or processes.
Co-Founder and CEO BaatCheet Media
How often should you seek customer feedback?
How often you should gather feedback depends on the type of business you have as well as the relationship you have with your customers.
For example, if you have regular contact with your user base, asking for feedback once every 2 to 5 months is a good time frame. If contact is made on an ad hoc basis, asking for feedback after each interaction makes sense because you don’t know when your next opportunity will come across.
Consider asking your users immediately after your interaction because the conversation is still fresh in their mind and you are more likely to receive a response. Or, as soon as you’ve finished your call, you can send a text, an email, or a message on your customer’s go-to communication channel.
From my experience, a power-user group which you can consult any time (for example for a discount) is great to gather feedback regularly. This way you can gather initial feedback, implement it and also see if you are heading in the right direction. One caveat – customer feedback is important, yes. But in the end, it is you who designs and develops the service. Thus, do not let yourself be dragged in a direction you don’t feel is right.
Two things to consider when you grab customer feedback. First, nobody wants to get spammed. So do not send endless requests for feedback, since this can bring adverse effects. Second, asking for feedback shouldn't take you too long. If you wait too long, users may not remember their initial impression making it difficult for them to give you accurate feedback.
How to ask for user feedback: The best methods and channels
There are several channels and methods you can use to get customer feedback. In the beginning, you cannot tell which channel will work best, since this depends on the industry and the business you are in. You have to test it. However, there are some methods that have worked for companies before, so they have a high chance of working for you as well.
Let’s have a look at the most popular ones:
Reaching customers via their inboxes is a cost-effective and quick way to gather feedback. A hefty 55% check their emails before anything else when they go online. That means your potential reach is massive.
Another enormous advantage of asking for feedback via email is that people know you. They already had at least one touchpoint with you, might trust you and are willing to give honest feedback. To make the most out of user feedback via email, you need to consider some key points. A great feedback email has a few things in common:
An attention-grabbing subject line
Users should know what to expect before opening the email. Keep in mind that more and more people check their emails on mobile devices, so keep it short and to the point.
An up-to-the-point and simple body
Cut the fluff, start off with a friendly salutation, and follow up with your request. Keep the body under 200 words. That’s it.
Tell people what you are going to do with the feedback
No need to use any marketing slang. Tell people straight up why you are reaching out to them and why their feedback is valuable to you. Keep in mind that people are more likely to give you feedback if you tell them what will happen next. For example, if you put the most common feedback on the roadmap, let your users know.
A clear CTA
If you don’t add a call to action
, people will not know what to do next. Easy as that. Therefore, don’t forget to add a clickable button so your users can interact with you, if they wish to proceed. If you don’t use an external tool to collect feedback, invite people to reply to your email and send their feedback this way.
Include their name and any other relevant information to make the email more genuine. A touch of personalization will help make them feel the email was sent directly to them, showing you’re interested in their feedback. This will increase the chances of getting a response.
Send from a real Email Address
“myname@donotreply” is one of the worst sender email names there is. Why? Because people don’t like to interact with robots. Instead, if you use your business email address where people can follow up and reply to, your “reply-rate” will improve.
Here’s an email template for you to collect user feedback next time:
Subject line: Resources on how to build a successful business
Was [your SaaS product] all that you’d hope for?
10 days ago, you created an account at [your SaaS product], and you’ve been an active user ever since. Thank you very much! I wanted to reach out personally and ask for your opinion on what else you believe we can do to make [your SaaS product] better for you.
Your feedback is very much appreciated and will help us make the product better. Feel free to directly reply to this email or just click the button below to send your feedback.
Thank you very much!
[Your name, CEO of [your SaaS product]
2. Direct interviews
A direct user interview is an excellent method that can give you in-depth knowledge of your users, their goals, perceptions, and experiences. Furthermore, you can determine whether your SaaS product is a good fit for the market. Although this is a labor-intensive way of gathering feedback, it can give you accurate first-hand information that you could not get otherwise.
Depending on the stage your business is in, different interview partners become interesting. For example, when you founded your Startup, you need to ask your potential target audience, based on your Personas
. When you are in business for some years, asking your best customers might become interesting.
Interviewing potential users before developing your service
If you don’t have an active user base but already have an idea to whom your solution is valuable, go to these people and ask them the following questions:
Dear potential customer,
• How are you currently … (fill in the problem you are trying to solve)
• What's the most annoying thing about the way you … (fill in the problem you are trying to solve)
• Why didn't you already change it?
• How would it work in an ideal world for you?
• Because I am thinking about creating … (fill in your solution)
• Would that be valuable to you? Why? Why not?
Once the potential customer has answered these questions, you have a good impression of whether your idea provides any value and how you might need to adapt it. Gathering this kind of feedback right in the beginning, before even investing more time and money on your idea, is the most crucial part when you build your Startup and the best insurance against failure.
I remember when I joined a Startup six years ago. Everybody in our team loved the idea we were working on, and we were convinced that the idea was worth our effort. We were so convinced that validating the concept did not seem necessary. We invested time and money and did our best, but the idea failed because of a lack of customers.
Had we done our market research and validated the service upfront, we would have noticed that the product did not solve a real customer pain point. We might have been able to pivot or even abandon the idea altogether without too many losses. Lesson learned. Don't make the same mistake as I did.
Interviewing power users
If you already have a product or a service and an active user base, you can reach out to your power-users to get valuable feedback. These people are especially helpful because they use your service so much, they want to improve it to make it even more valuable to them. In return for their feedback, you can give them a discount for a premium plan or an extension for their current plan, which will then likely turn them into raving fans.
Interviewing churned users
Every business has churned users, but depending on how you deal with them, makes the difference. Often, companies consider churned users as lost business and neglect the fact that these people are just not happy with the current version of your service and might come back if you adapt your product a little.
Gathering feedback from churned users is one of the best ways to better understand potential customers and understand why they stopped using your service. In addition, implementing this kind of feedback will leave the chance of them getting back to you once they see more value in your service.
Pro tips when using direct interviews
1. Always use open-ended questions
Here are some good open-ended questions to get the most out of your customer interviews:
• How often do you use our product?
• Which product features are most useful to you?
• Why are they most useful to you?
• What do you dislike about our product?
• What’s one feature you’d like us to add and why?
• What is difficult to use in our product?
• How could we improve our product to better fit your needs?
• How does our product compare to others you have tried?
2. Do not lead the conversation to your solution
Remember: the whole idea here is to ensure you understand what customers want, not what you and your team are excited to see. Keep in mind that your users’ requirements for your product can and will change. For example, in the beginning you will hear a lot of basic feature requests, while in later stages, the feedback you will get will be more directed towards the entire experience.
By conducting direct interviews from time to time, you can keep track of these changes and adapt your SaaS product to sustain long-term customer engagement.
3. Customer satisfaction surveys
Customer satisfaction surveys are used to gauge customer satisfaction along every touchpoint of their journey. Be it after a certain interaction, or on the overall experience, user satisfaction is the powerful predictor of how satisfied your users are with your product.
These surveys allow your business to improve products, optimize the experience, and deliver what the market demands. The Net Promoter Score
or NPS survey is one type of customer satisfaction survey. It’s a customer loyalty metric that is used to gauge the loyalty of an organization's customer relationships by asking each individual user how likely they are to refer the company to others.
How to calculate the NPS
Figure out your NPS by asking your customers: "On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend us to a friend?". Then, group the respondents into three categories.
9-10 Happy customers, who are likely to recommend your service.
7-8 Customers who will not recommend your service but will also not use negative word of mouth against you. “Passives” have a high potential of becoming promoters. Therefore, it makes sense to find out how you can improve their experience to make them more satisfied.
• Detractors 0-6
Unhappy customers, who will not recommend your service, plan to cancel their business with you or, even worse, will advise against using your service.
NPS is expressed as a number from -100 to 100. When you have more detractors than promoters, your score will be negative. For example, if 80% of respondents were Promoters and 10% were Detractors, your NPS is 70.
NPS = % Promoters - % Detractors.
It is useful to follow up with open-ended questions about the "Why." For example, "What was the reason for your score? What would have changed your score?". Thanks to this, you will get great insights on how to increase the likelihood of recommendations.
The higher your NPS score, the better. An NPS that is below 0 is an indication that your company has serious issues to address. A score between 0 and 30 is a good range to be in, but there is still room for progress. A score above 50 is good, and an NPS over 70 is excellent, meaning your users find your product valuable.
4. Review sites
User reviews are another source of intelligence for your business. Whether negative or positive, customer reviews grant you the opportunity to see where your product cannot meet user needs and help you to remove roadblocks in the customer journey. Resources on how to build a successful business
That aside, another major reason why you should collect user reviews is that you can share them with potential customers. Positive reviews can be showcased as testimonials during lead acquisition, since online reviews impact people’s buying decisions.
The real question is how to encourage your users to leave an authentic review. One of the best ways is to reach out to your best customers and ask them to leave feedback about the product. Since they are already using your product, they are likely to leave positive feedback as well. In addition, consider offering a small incentive. That way, you will have higher chances of hearing from them.
When in doubt, talk to your customers. Getting honest feedback will improve your business and give you valuable ideas for new features, punch lines, blog posts, and so on.
Co-Founder at Goodish Agency
The challenges and the mistakes you should avoid while collecting customer feedback
When you do it wrong, gathering feedback can be daunting and might seem a waste of time. To avoid that, here is a list of the mistakes you should avoid in your next user feedback round:
Not defining the purpose of the survey
Surveys are a powerful method to improve your service. However, if you have no clear purpose in doing the survey and just do it for the sake of it, there is little sense in it. It is much more meaningful to collect feedback after you have released a new feature, after you have reached a new milestone or if you are looking at your roadmap and are not sure which features to prioritize next.
Asking people who are not part of your target audience
There is little sense in asking people for feedback who are not using your product or are not within your target audience
. The best way to get valuable feedback is to identify your Personas and to find people who fit them.
Not making it easy to provide feedback
No matter what method you chose, make sure that it is easy for users to provide their feedback. For example, allow them to reply to your email in plain text if they want to, avoid log-in masks for online forms and reduce unnecessary form fields in your survey.
Asking many yes/no questions
Asking yes/no questions can be valuable, but only to make sure that you understood your user correctly. For example, when you do direct interviews, there is no shame in rephrasing what the user said and asking if you understood him/her correctly.
However, make sure to not start with yes/no questions right away. Rather, start with open-ended questions and give the interview partner the possibility to answer in their own words. This way, you might unravel information that you would not have thought of.
Not preparing questions and asking irrelevant questions
Having a clear purpose for your survey is crucial. Also, it is mandatory to have predefined questions which enable you to compare the interviews. This is important because you don’t want to change your entire product or your roadmap because one person said so. Rather do several interviews to find out what feedback occurred multiple times.
Using technical language
The best way to do user research is to gather feedback across your entire target audience. This way, you will get insights from all demographics. Different people have different perspectives, experiences, and knowledge. Therefore, keep in mind to not try to look smart by using fancy or technical terms. Rather, make it easy for people to understand what you are asking. Only this way you will get the most out of your interviews.
Not asking follow-up questions
In direct interviews, I often times see that interviewers are afraid to ask follow-up questions. They feel they don’t want to ask too many questions out of fear of annoying the respondent. But remember that your users want to help you and are interested in supporting you in creating a better product for them.
So don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions to clarify topics or to avoid misunderstandings. There is nothing more painful than investing a ton of research or doing customer feedback rounds and implementing a feature that nobody wants.
Influencing survey respondents via biased language
Your product is your baby, no doubt. It can be tough to hear that people don’t like your service. However, gathering honest feedback is the only way to keep improving your service and keeping a solid user base. That’s why it is important to never frame your questions in a way, that influence your respondents.
Use open-ended questions and keep out all emotions when collecting feedback. It is better to get harsh feedback to improve on than getting the best feedback, but nobody is using your service.
Requesting multiple pieces of information at the same time
You know your product in and out. However, most of your users don’t. Especially if you gather feedback from people who are not using your product regularly, it can become overwhelming for them. The best tip is to keep your questions short and to the point and to simply ask one question at a time. This will also help you later to evaluate your interviews.
Not giving a full range of responses to choose
We already discussed the importance of open-ended questions. Especially in online interview, this can be challenging. I always recommend adding open text fields to your online questionnaire to give respondents the possibility to add additional text. Your goal is to grab every idea, perspective or objection your users have, even though they might not exactly fit the question you are asking.
Asking your mum
Your mum loves you and would never tell you that your idea or product sucks. If you intend on getting feedback from friends or family, here is a little trick you can use to do so anyway: Go to them and say “Hey, a good friend of mine is working on this idea – what do you like about it, what do you not like about it?” This way, your relatives will be honest and will not be afraid to hurt you.
How should you analyze customer feedback and what should you do with it?
1. Collect your data in one place
You have your customer feedback in multiple sources or locations, like surveys, customer reviews, live chat feedback, customer research notes or call transcripts from customer meetings. Some feedback may come across as incomplete or unremarkable, but some feedback will contain information that could potentially be a significant breakthrough for your business.
That’s why it is crucial to collect your data in one place. It is unnecessary to use any fancy tool, since you can just use an Excel sheet for this. However, make sure that your entire team has access to it.
2. Categorize the feedback
Not all customer feedback is the same, so you have to categorize the feedback first. Some common categories that might help you are “bugs”, “product information”, “new feature request”, and “pricing”. Remember that sorting customer feedback into categories will help you understand which part of your business you need to improve first.
3. Divide feedback into positive, negative, and neutral
As soon as you have categorized user feedback, it is time to divide it into positive, negative, and neutral. Slimming down your organized feedback into these 3 groups will help your team members analyze what went right or wrong. Negative feedback helps to see the loopholes, positive feedback helps to see the successes, and the neutral category signals room for improvement.
4. Share the feedback with internal teams
The next step is to calculate the total amount of feedback per category as it’ll help you see which feedback is most common, and what patterns exist in your user feedback. Once you’ve done that, make sure you share all the feedback with internal teams so employees can either learn from good experiences or think about how negative customer interactions could have been improved.
5. Follow up with users
Not following up with users on their feedback is one of the major crimes in "customer to business" interaction. I recommend to respond to users and say that you’re fixing their issues (assuming it was meaningful feedback). Remember that users who inform you about negative experiences or issues with a product do so because they want their experience to enhance. So, be strategic and respond to user reviews. After all, you don’t just want users, you want loyalists who will recommend your product or service to others.
3 FAQs about customer feedback
1. How can I encourage customers to give honest feedback without biasing their answers?
You need to ask the right questions. You can do this by avoiding framing your questions. Always use open-ended questions, keep emotions out of your language and don't ask for multiple pieces of information at the same time. Keep the questionnaire as simple as possible.
2. Is it necessary to get feedback from customers who have stopped using the service (churned users)?
I would always recommend it. Customers can churn for a number of reasons. You want to know these so you can improve your service and keep your customers longer in the future. But this is important - see these exit interview as an opportunity to learn, not something you do to win back churned customers.
3. How often should I collect feedback to maintain a healthy customer-business interaction?
The frequency of gathering feedback depends mainly on the nature of your business and the customer relationship. For regular user contact, it is fine to ask for feedback every 2-5 months. If interactions are ad hoc, ask for feedback after each interaction. Just make sure you get regular feedback on your service, as this is the best way to keep improving.
Gathering user feedback is one of the keystones of every successful business and one of the most valuable resources for improving your product. The most common feedback methods are surveys, product reviews, emails, interviews and social media. Depending on the stage your business is in, different feedback methods become interesting. For example, when you founded your Startup and want to get early feedback for your idea, big surveys are not constructive. Rather look for 1-on-1 interviews or try to grab feedback via social media. Need help in gathering customer feedback?
Make sure to gather user feedback on a regular basis and show your customers that you care about their opinion. This way you not only show that user feedback is appreciated, but are also able to create a userbase that recommend your service to others.