As the founder and chairman of the largest laptop manufacturer in the world, Barry Lam has made billions of dollars by having a keen understanding what his customers want. But that hardly makes him unique: few businesses, if any, can operate without listening to their customers. Yet how should companies go about eliciting feedback from their most valuable resource? The first step towards understanding how to get customer feedback is to know the three forms feedback comes in: given, requested, and observed.
1. Given feedback
When your customers reach out without being asked to do so, they’re providing given feedback. For example, support tickets they have opened, phone calls made to your support center, live chat conversations on your site or in your app, and social media messages.
Support tickets tend to be the primary way customers reach out to companies, so having a robust cloud ticketing system in place is essential. Those systems will allow you to add tags to tickets, which is a handy way to flag common issues. Analytics tools in your ticketing system will allow you to create reports and dashboards for a clearer view of what your customers are telling you.
2. Requested feedback
This type of feedback stems from concerted efforts to gather opinions from customers in the most direct way: by asking. This entails sending out Net Promoter Score (NPS) and churn surveys, customer satisfaction (CSAT) ratings, replies to email newsletters or in-app messages, or when your product or UX teams interview customers directly. Perhaps you want to know if your customers have discovered innovative ways to use your product that you didn’t anticipate, or maybe you want to understand how they prefer to receive communication. You won’t know unless you ask.
Once you do ask, however, be ready to have a conversation with your customer. If they’re taking the time to help your company do better, you owe them your complete attention—even if what they say makes your hair stand on end. You’ll be better for it.
3. Observed feedback
The third way to gather feedback from customers involves watching how your customers use your product or service, how they navigate it, and the types of documentation they read. Zendesk Enterprise users, for example, can use the free Pathfinder app to see which steps their customers have taken—such as viewing self-service content in a knowledge base—before they emailed, called, or messaged the help center. A wise company uses analytics to dissect these observations to determine new features, fix bugs, and revamp product designs.
Observable data can be pulled from your knowledge base: take a look at the most popular content, search results that come up empty, support tickets created after viewing specific content, and what makes your customers convert (which content was consumed before they clicked the subscribe button).
Making sense of it all
Once you have gathered feedback from your customers, you’ll need to organize it in a meaningful fashion so you can identify trends and observe patterns. Are fierce critics in an NPS survey saying the same thing your churn respondents are stating? Have certain features or products caused headaches for all of your users, or just a small portion? Share this data widely among your teams and decide what needs to be acted on and what’s just an outlier—and then get back to asking your customers for feedback.