Customer feedback: THE bottom line
We all hope we know what is best for our customer, that we understand what they want. Only the customer really knows what is best for them, truly understands what they want.
That’s why it is incredibly important to give your customers an easy way to talk to you. By giving your customer a platform you can use the power of their voice to your advantage whether it is positive or negative. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you, the employer or employee knows everything. This is particularly relevant when looking at making changes to your website.
In this article we will cover the following areas in regards to customer feedback:
- It’s importance
- Collection methods
- Key dialogues
- Decision maker buy-in.
The Importance of Customer Feedback
Customer feedback is extremely important because it can help guide your decision-making behaviour. If you know what your customers really want, and it makes business sense, then you can implement it. By listening to their feedback and taking an action, you display empathy which makes a customer feel valued. A valued customer is a happy customer who will continue to buy your product or service; Equally they are far more likely to become a brand evangelist and preach your good word, creating a whole new active marketing division with untold reach.
Collecting the data
There are a few methods used to obtain online customer feedback, we will discuss customer surveys, usability testing and social monitoring as they are relatively straightforward to set up and gleam insights from.
Survey give you an opportunity to ask direct questions. Survey design in itself is a massive theoretical subject, but don’t get too bogged down in that. Use a common sense approach. Ask people questions in a straightforward manner they will understand.
It is important not to lead the customer. Put your opinions aside when writing the questions, you want their input, not a mirror of the office outlook. If you can, offer an incentive for completing your survey, it will increase participation levels.
The most important thing about surveys is remembering why you are going to all the effort of designing, incentivising and releasing one.
You are collecting customer data to analyse and use to improve your product and/or service! – Vital information.
- User Testing
Running user testing sessions can help to obtain even higher quality feedback from your visitors as elements of bias and consciousness are removed from the decision-making process. This can be a bit more difficult to implement yourself, which is why we are employed by our clients to constantly run usability tests optimising their digital marketplace to improve profitability.
We use a number of techniques that include heat mapping, video recording and form abandonment analysis. This is used to produce data which eventually give us insights into user behaviour allowing us to tweak particular elements and maximise customer experience.
- Social Monitoring
There are simple things you can do to ensure you manage your social reputation professionally. Dedicate someone to answering direct messages promptly on your social channels, use a free social management tool like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite and set up alerts for your products and most importantly engage. If a comment is a negative, go out of your way to converting customers negative experience into a positive one. 9 times out of 10 they will appreciate the effort and become a brand advocate for your mature approach.
From my experience as a user testing consultant the following questions have really helped me gain valuable insight into what customers say about the brands I investigate. Although you may not need to use all of these questions, they are useful to consider:
- What are your first impressions of the website?
- How easy was the website to use?
- Did you locate the product/information you needed?
- What information would you like adding or removing?
- Was there anything confusing about the website, did you require more clarification?
- How likely would you be to show the website to a colleague or friend?
- Describe the website/company in one word?
Remember, the key is gathering good data, analysing it and then using it to draw conclusions about a live situation.
Getting the boss on side
This all sounds great I hear you cry, but my boss will never agree to it. Bosses worry about the bottom line (as you would hope), well, customers are the bottom line!
You might face a few objections, here’s a couple of common ones and some ideas on how to counter them:
- “There will be spies from other companies skewing the data” – You must screen customers and gather enough data to be statistically significant.
- “We will have to do what they ask” – Customers are with you because they like your ethos and vision if you spend time explaining why something can not be done they will understand.
- “It will take a lot of time to gather feedback” – So does changing something without any knowledge of what is most important to your customer. You will most likely have to revisit the same project six months later when revenue does not increase as much as was expected, or email sign ups have not increased.
A famous quote which should not be misquoted when talking about customer feedback is that of Henry Ford, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”. This is excellent customer feedback. The aim is to collate feedback, understand it and create an innovative solution with a product or service to deliver something they never believed was possible.
Have an open dialogue with your customers. Listen to the good, the bad and the ugly and where necessary shift your focus to improve your standing in the market based on such feedback. Who are we to dictate how other people feel? We wouldn’t presume to dictate whether our friend wants a tea or coffee, whether they prefer blue or green or how many times a day they should go to the bathroom, so why do we think their interaction with our brand is any different.