There’s more to customer feedback than an NPS rating. And creating ‘actionable feedback’ needs to show more than a numerical number. Here’s how we re-structured our customer feedback to deliver actionable insights which played a major role in product, marketing, and positioning.
Be pro-active in getting feedback
Being pro-active for us meant calling our customers to have an in-depth conversation and draw out as much information as possible. It’s fairly simple, but unfortunately, many of us are not prepared to call our customers in the first place — it’s out of the what many would call their, ‘comfort zone’. We started calling as many customers as we could, if they didn’t have time to go through the survey, we would make sure we would reschedule for their convenience. I realized customers who I reached out too really appreciated the personal attention.
For a customer whose contact numbers we didn’t have or did not respond, they would be put in an email sequence. The email sequence would be a 4 step process where at the very end we would incentivize them by giving a $5 Amazon voucher — inevitably the response went up by 40%. I’ve seen other organizations with very large customer bases to incentives by adding customers into a prize draw.
‘88% of our customer base responded to our feedback questionnaire.’
A few email tips on increasing the response rate
Be personal and introduce yourself. Please avoid writing in ‘template’ format.
Elaborate on the benefits of providing feedback (remember the feedback is for their benefit as much as yours).
Give a quick insight into how long the feedback form will take. We realized this increased response rates.
Our limited scope
Here’s an example of a question we were asking in our earlier survey. At first, I thought these questions were great, it would us how well our on-boarding experience was coming along, right? After analyzing the results, it was obvious we were missing a crucial element.
Notice how unspecific and therefore unhelpful this question is. If we had scored 10/10, we might not have a problem, but what if our average score was 7/10? Well, there was some work to do.
All we know is that customers are having difficulties with on-boarding, but we still have no idea ‘why’. Are the customers having a hard time implementing the product? Is the on-boarding process not lining up with what they are trying to achieve? Did we not provide any social proofing?
Numerical numbers do not allow the customer to really express what was good or bad about their experience. And we cannot analyze their pain point.
Okay, let’s take another example — this time the question is, “which features had the most value for you?” I guess it’s always good to know which features are delivering the most value but this question provides zero in-depth response. Again, no how or why.
For example, with the use-case of the video, why were customers using it? What was helpful about it?. This vital information would have helped us understand the use-case of video and how and why our customers were using the feature. But, because the question was set to a simple multiple-choice selection, all we got was vague answers consisting of a single phrase. The fact was ‘video’ had the highest percentage, but why it was the highest, we had no idea.
Let’s say we allowed customers to leave a comment like this: “The best feature for us has been the video, it has allowed us to build rapport with customers who were previously very indecisive on which holiday resort to picking because they wanted more information”. This immediately gives us a whole new perspective :
1. The customer’s industry is Tourism.
2. The customer’s problem was they were losing their customers due to vague information about resort choices, and our video is solving this problem for them.
3. The cost of them not having our application was losing customers.
4. Whilst benefitting them with an increase in sales and customer rapport.
To make an impact, we needed the details.
We realized at this point we had to change it up. We knew asking longer questions would bring down the number of customers who did our questionnaire, but in return, we would learn more about how the product was actually being used.
Here’s how we started structuring our questions.
We changed all the questions to text boxes, and most importantly, we have an ‘example’ answer. We wanted to get a better idea of what they were trying to solve through our product and why they were signing up in the first place. After a while we started seeing similarities between customers — a pattern if you will — and why they were coming to us as opposed to another company.
By understanding the use case, it would give us a better understanding why certain customers prefer some elements of the application. This did not mean there was something wrong with other elements, just the fact it was not factoring in their use case.
A few drawbacks
For us, feedback as a young company was crucial and even with our limited resources, we wanted to start talking to as many customers and drawing out as much information as possible. But of course, with this approach you can’t put a numerical value on the feedback and comparing results over time is near impossible with questions like this.
We realized that if all the feedback was specific and individual to each customer and afterward we input an NPS rating, we would actually get a very realistic answer. This was because we gave the customers the opportunity to think about their answers before writing them down — and as a result, they gave very specific and therefore extremely useful feedback.
I’ve observed over the years that if you ask a customer, “what did you think about our video feature,” and you give them a 0–10 scale, they don’t actually think about it much and usually answer it within the first 5 seconds. However, if you ask a few questions that require a slightly more in-depth process of thinking and then ask the same question, you will get a more thought out response.
What We Learned and How We Used This in our Product and Marketing
1. What problems our customers were trying to solve
2. What they would achieve by solving these problems
3. The customer's industry
4. The most crucial factors in choosing the right solution
5. What we were getting wrong
Making a difference in our Product
It helped us to figure out if the product was solving the problems that customers had, and if it was allowing them to measure their success on the platform. (remember what you think your product solves, does not necessarily mean this is what your customer thinks it solves).
We ended up introducing an ROI/Conversion feature as we would help our customers measure their success on using Acquire.io.
After every demo and feedback, I ask customers what are the most important factors for them to move ahead with Acquire. This step is where you, the business, figure out why your customers aren’t selecting you. It comes down to features, security, pricing, and other related areas. However, from a product perspective, you’ll quickly start seeing the core reasons you’re not winning potential customers who are still a perfectly good fit for your product.
A quick note: Please do not start making product features based on every bit of feedback you receive. Make sure your adjustments fit well with your product and vision. From experience, I can tell you making features based on every individual customer’s feedback is the kiss of death.
We’ve tried many ‘messages’ — some have worked well, others not so well. But usually the aim of a ‘message’ should be able to demonstrate the problem you solve and the result this delivers. Our feedback results started filtering into our marketing, once we had collated enough data. This showed us the core problems our customer was using our application for — and what they deemed a success, which ultimately reflected the messages we marketed. If you listen closely, you may even notice a similarity in the words used to describe their problems and what would be their success.
Start using these specific words in your marketing material that resonate with your customers and deliver a message that solves their problem and brings them success.
Feel free to give us your thoughts and experiences on how you have derived the best feedback from your growing base. Please don’t forget to comments :)