Published: 31/03/2016 | AUTHOR: Toby Shelley
In a world of ever increasing data and information, there’s one data source that companies can’t afford to ignore – customer feedback. The chances are if you’re not getting (and using) feedback in the right way, then your competitors are already gaining the edge.
“That guy” who emails and rings up companies off his own back to complain or make recommendations is often not very representative of the customer base as a whole. Similarly, internal employees who are surrounded by their products and services all the time can sometimes be oblivious to faults or potential business-winning attributes.
It’s therefore important to constantly seek consumer opinion and analyse their behaviour in order to spot problems you may have missed and gain insight as to where to move within a market.
Why collect feedback?
Feedback helps businesses get a picture of what their customers really want. By getting it, customers can be made happier, which can lead to increased sales and greater profit. At the same time, if you have no feedback channels then customers can become frustrated that issues they experience or improvements they identify have little-to-no way of being recognised.
The amount of internet forums and review pages shows just how willing people are to share their opinion about something that matters to them. Businesses can really stand out from the crowd by actually listening to this advice and implementing it – and telling customers about how they listened and acted upon their feedback.
Some organisations take this a step further and actively seek consumer input in order to innovate, taking a proactive approach, rather than reactive. A great example of this is Lego, who have created a system where people can design Lego sets, get support from the online community and have these ideas turned into a real set. This is effectively crowdsourcing – outsourcing idea generation to a crowd of consumers in order to innovate.
Sometimes businesses don’t necessarily need to ask their customers for input and insight, but can rely on analysing their consumer trends and patterns in order to produce great ideas. Netflix is great at this, as demonstrated by its hit show House of Cards. Netflix commissioned the show based upon its users’ streaming habits, realising that there was a large potential audience.
What about the bad reviews?
Businesses can share the reviews they receive to increase trustworthiness and encourage sales. This is traditionally done in the form of a testimonial where businesses can cherry-pick their good reviews. However, with impartial platforms like social media and Google reviews, feedback is a lot more transparent. That said, it can be beneficial for a business to share its moderate/bad reviews as it can increase the trustworthiness of good review. The Advertising Standards Authority is currently cracking down on businesses leaving fake positive reviews (and negative reviews of their competitors) which should make online review platforms even more trusted and reliable.
How can feedback be collected?
Here are some of the best ways businesses can look to receive feedback:
1. Surveys – Try to use open ended questions so that answers aren’t guided by your assumptions – and make sure every question counts
2. Comment boxes – Used a lot by e-commerce sites, you can incorporate these into websites to get feedback on UX and service levels
3. Ask them in person – This isn’t always possible, but getting people together in focus groups can give you the chance to contextualise feedback and understand the most important factors
4. Analysing user activity in analytics and CRM systems – The beauty of this is that it requires no extra effort from your customers – just make sure you have a few analysts who can crunch the numbers to review where a website is doing well, and where it’s pushing customers away
5. Beta Testing – testing systems and software with dummy consumers can be a great way of checking where people might get stuck when using a website or service. It’s always better to pay to test something in advance than allowing it to go live and paying (both with money and reputation) later
6. Set up profiles on a few different review sites – G2 crowd, Glassdoor, Google Local, Yahoo Local, LinkedIn, TripAdvisor, Trustpilot Etc. (Trustpilot has the added benefit of showing up on Google)
7. Net Promoter Score (NPS) – A metric which measures the loyalty between the company and the consumer. This is measured with data from a specific question, asking customers to state how likely they are to recommend the company/products on a score of 1 – 10.
Things to think about – how is the information being gathered?
When implementing a feedback system, there are a few things that need to be taken into account.
Are people giving feedback being rewarded for their information? Incentivising feedback with discounts or give-aways can be a good way of increasing participation and gaining more data. A potential problem with this is that people give feedback based upon emotion and the goodwill from receiving something can skew the data to look more positive.
How personal is the process and effect of the feedback – Is the feedback directly assessing a person or a group of people? How visible are these people to the person giving the feedback? As feedback can be largely swayed by emotion, information can often become subjective if the person supplying the feedback has positive or negative feelings towards the people they are accessing. Similarly, people are generally more likely to be objective if they are replying to a machine and have no connection to the people providing the service.
Here people are likely to see or have contact with the staff in the shop.
Here feedback is given to an anonymous generic email and the people giving it don’t know who they are assessing.
Is the feedback submission anonymous? – Another thing to think about is whether feedback is anonymous. Anonymous email surveys can often produce more honest feedback than a feedback form where you have to put your name at the top (and where the person who reads it knows who you are!)
Is it right for my business?
Feedback is such a vital thing for businesses these days. It can take time and resource to implement the necessary channels and further time to read through it and analyse trends, but it’s worth it, especially in competitive markets where a small amount of consumer goodwill and recommendations can make a huge amount of difference to attitudes, behaviour and market share.
And implementing feedback is important, as all conclusions are only as important as the information that forms them. It’s vital to try and keep feedback as honest and un-biased as possible so that insight and solutions drawn from it are necessary, implemented correctly and wanted by the customer base.
Feedback can be beneficial in so many ways, from expanding your business offering to fixing faults and increasing trustworthiness, which can be an order winner when a consumer is comparing businesses in a market place. We live in a world of data and information and it’s always important to utilise this in order to improve and evolve.