Since 89% of customers would switch to a competitor if they felt their experience was poor, it’s vitally important for you to have feedback loops in place to catch unhappy customers and collect insight.
Business growth is held back when you lose customers. Feedback loops will help you create happier customers, which is the key to business growth. Customers are your biggest marketing assets. They have the power to share positive messages about your brand via social media to thousands of friends and family. These raving fans help drive your brand awareness up and send new business opportunities to your front door.
What is a customer feedback loop?
A feedback loop is a system that you use to gather feedback, learn from feedback and make changes to your products and service based on the feedback.
The purpose is to improve your offerings in the eyes of your customer. For example, at Client Heartbeat, we use feedback loops to guide our product roadmap and to make sure our customer service is meeting customer expectations.
Feedback loops are important because they give you a systemized approach to listening to and learning from customers. Your customers are your livelihood – they pay for your products, keep your doors open and fuel your business growth. They are in the best position to give you feedback that you can use to create an even better product or a more amazing customer experience.
Feedback loops provide your customers with opportunities to tell you how you’re doing. You want to make it as easy as possible for customers to tell you when you stuff up or when you do a good job. By offering multiple feedback loops, you are always in reach when a customer has something to say.
Let’s take a look at the three types of customer feedback loops.
1. Survey feedback loops
Surveys are the most common way you can get feedback from customers. They work because they are straightforward and easy for your customers to complete.
You ask a set of questions, customers respond with how they feel and you have your customer feedback. When executed correctly, surveys provide insight into how satisfied or unsatisfied your customers are with your business.
There are four different types of surveys that you can use as customer feedback loops: transactional surveys, periodic surveys, on-website or in-app surveys and Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys.
Transactional surveys are sent after a customer has purchased a product from you. These are a great way to get feedback based on the individual transaction that took place.
Imagine you’re buying a coffee at your local coffee shop and an employee hands you an iPad with a short survey to fill out when you leave. This is an example of a transactional survey.
Periodic surveys focus on asking for feedback as a whole, rather than after a specific transaction. You can use these surveys every 3, 6 or 12 months. These surveys ask for feedback based on the customer’s overall experience with your company. This is useful because measuring overall satisfaction has been found to be a better measure of customer happiness when compared to measuring satisfaction based on individual interactions.
Tools like Client Heartbeat can help you automate these surveys so you can set this feedback loop up once and have a steady stream of feedback coming in.
Client Heartbeat specializes in making periodic surveys really simple for you and your customers. Here’s an example survey that you can set up with our tool:
Pulse is a tool that you can use to send in-app surveys to ask customers how they feel about your product’s new features. The benefit of asking for feedback while a customer is using your product is you can ask specific questions relating to features. This way, you catch customers while they are experiencing the features.
NPS surveys focus on asking, “How likely would you be to recommend our company?” This one question was developed, Fred Reichheld at Bain & Company, provides a strong indication of how happy a customer is. Make sure you follow this question up with an open-ended comment box so you can ask why the customer responded the way they did. This additional feedback will give you insight into what areas you can improve upon and what areas you’re doing well in.
Take a look at this NPS survey by Groove Help Desk:
Groove uses Promoter.io to handle their NPS surveys.
How to use surveys as customer feedback loops
- The best surveys are short (no more than six questions) and use a 1-10 rating scale. Your customer shouldn’t need to spend more than 30 seconds completing the survey.
- Ask the right questions that give you the most actionable feedback. Use Gallup’s four levels of customer expectations to guide your questions.
- Offer multiple surveys for customers. Give them options – but don’t force it. Your clients won’t like being harassed.
- Use Client Heartbeat for transactional and periodic surveys.
- Set up Qualaroo for on-site surveys and Pulse for in-app surveys.
- Use io or Delighted for NPS surveys.
2. Self-service feedback loops
Self-service feedback is gathered via reviews, feedback forms and community forums. These feedback loops rely on your customers leaving feedback on their own terms – you don’t necessarily need to ask for it.
This type of feedback is more passive. Some customers simply don’t want to fill out surveys, so by offering self-service options, you can still gather feedback and listen to them.
Let’s look at the three self-service feedback loops you can use.
Reviews and testimonials
Customers love leaving reviews and testimonials – both positive and negative. Help your customers leave these for you by giving them a way to do so. You may want to leverage a tool like Client Heartbeat to help you gather testimonials.
Reviews and testimonials are important pieces of feedback that can help guide your decisions. Best Buy recently started focusing more energy on reviews because they recognized it as a great channel to listen to customers. They use BazaarVoice to facilitate the reviews and give each customer the opportunity to leave a review after they purchase a product. The company uses the feedback internally to guide product range decisions and even passes the feedback along to vendors.
Take a look at the email they sent me asking for my review:
Every company should have a feedback form. You need one of these easily available so that your customers always have a way to contact you and share their feedback. Frustrated customers first want to share feedback with you if they have had a bad experience. If you don’t provide a feedback form, your customers can’t tell you they are unhappy. They then might turn to other mediums like Twitter and review sites to vent their frustration and disappointment.
Feedback forms should be kept very simple. Ask for only the contact details you need and then leave a big open comment box for your customer to write down their feedback.
A community forum provides a platform to let your customers leave feedback in a public environment that is also accessed by other customers. Community forums like Unbounce’s Support Forum encourage customers to leave feedback, which is monitored by Unbounce’s support teams and other Unbounce users.
This offers a great way for you to show that you’re listening to customers and an even better way for customers to passively leave feedback and contribute to the community.
Take a look at the lively feedback going on over at the Unbounce community forum:
How to use self-service customer feedback loops
- Make these feedback loops as easy as possible for customers to use. For the reviews, feedback forms and forums, limit the number of field boxes customers have to fill out. Keep it simple.
- Customers using self-service want to leave feedback on their own terms. Let them.
- Take ownership of reviews and testimonials using a service like Bazaar Voice for reviews or Client Heartbeat for testimonials. Ideally, you want to be asking and facilitating a review or testimonial as opposed to letting customers find a site online to leave their feedback.
- Simple form builders like Wufoo will help you set up a feedback form. Don’t ask for too many details – only ask for name and email and leave a big comment box.
- Set up a community forum using UserVoice or Get Satisfaction. Both platforms let you create communities where customers can leave feedback. Monitor your community and engage with these customers who leave complaints, problems, suggestions and praise.
3. Personal feedback loops
The last type of feedback loop you can use is the easiest. Personalized feedback loops include personal emails, friendly follow-up calls and client meetings.
All of these interactions involve one-on-one interaction with a customer. There are a number of benefits to this approach. You are able to dig deeper with additional questions to expand on feedback, you get a much higher response rate and you have the best opportunity to build a stronger relationship. Best of all, you can resolve complaints or problems straight away.
Let’s break down the three personalized feedback loops.
Getting customer feedback is pretty easy if you just ask! Sending a personal email to check in and see how your client is finding your product and service to be is a great way to get feedback. Why? Because they have to reply!
It would be rude if they ignore your email and even if they do, you can send them a follow up.
I’ve found that a personalized email is the best feedback loop. It gives you great response rates and provides an easy way to follow up on feedback.
For example, we use personalized emails at Client Heartbeat to check in with our customers. These emails are designed to make sure we are meeting expectations and always listening to how our customers use our product. This feedback is priceless because it assists us with product improvements and helps us with the way we communicate and sell our product.
Take a look at a personal email I’ve sent to a customer:
Friendly follow-up calls
Checking in with customers should already be on your to-do list. For ongoing contractual clients, you should be touching base every one, three or six months, depending on the relationship you have. These friendly calls give you the chance to check in and make sure your customer is still happy with your product and service. More importantly, it gives customers an opportunity to voice their complaints, concerns or praise.
At Client Heartbeat, we have a new initiative for 2015 where we’ll be contacting 30 customers every month. The purpose of this is to touch base with customers and listen to what they have to say. Although we’ve done this ad hoc in the past, 2015 will be more structured. Our cofounder and CEO, Harpreet Singh, is taking on this initiative.
You should try and get your CEO or director to be talking with customers and doing these follow up calls. Doing so shows that you care about your customers.
Think about it: picture your CEO taking time out of his or her busy day to listen to customer feedback. That sends a powerful message.
No doubt you probably already do have regular face-to-face meetings with clients, but have you thought about using these meetings as a customer feedback loop. These meetings offer the perfect opportunity to gather feedback.
When you are physically in front of a client, you get the chance to see their nonverbal communication. For example, you can see if they’re not telling you the truth or you can really see their frustration when they share a story about a bad experience.
Managing relationships and improving customer happiness becomes a lot easier when you strip away technology and talk face-to-face.
At R & G Technologies, a Brisbane IT and cloud services firm, the company uses client meetings to gather and learn from feedback. They do quarterly business reviews, which offer a chance to sit down and discuss how the last three months of service has been. In the meeting, R & G gives their customer an opportunity to highlight any concerns or positive feedback. This works really well for the company. They consistently rank high for customer satisfaction (benchmarking by Client Heartbeat):
How to use personalized feedback loops
- Make sure the person inside your company that has the relationship with the customer is the one who sends and engages with them. Ideally, this will be the account manager. Since this person already has a relationship, the customer will trust him or her and the feedback will be more accurate.
- When you get negative feedback via these methods, be proactive about resolving the problems or concerns. These are great opportunities to win back unhappy customers. Empower your staff to go above and beyond to ensure these unhappy customers have their problems resolved as quickly as possible.
- Use a CRM to manage these feedback loops. Try to touch base with each customer on a regular basis. As a guide, try to chat every three months for ongoing contracts and every six months for customers you may only engage with once or twice a year.
Use feedback loops to better understand your customers
Growing a business relies on keeping customers happy. If you don’t keep customers happy, they will leave and tell all their friends to avoid you.
The most successful companies in the world have customer feedback loops built into their business to ensure they give themselves every opportunity to listen to customers and learn from them to create better products and experiences.
I’ve discussed nine customer feedback loops that you can implement inside your business. Each of these feedback loops is designed to help you gather feedback and use that feedback to create happier customers.
Word of warning: before you jump into using feedback loops, make sure you assign someone inside your company to be responsible for managing all of the feedback. This person needs to ensure they are constantly using the feedback loops to listen and respond to feedback.
If there’s one thing worse than not listening to customer feedback, it’s not responding to it.
Other useful articles on customer feedback loops:
- How to create customer feedback loops at scale
- Closing the customer feedback loop (Harvard Business Review)
- Mastering feedback loops in startups
Simply set this survey up once by entering in your clients’ contact details and selecting a survey period and all your clients will automatically be sent a survey each period.
On-website and in-app surveys
These surveys can be used to gather feedback while your customers are engaging with you on your website or in your app. For example, Vero uses on-site surveys (Qualaroo) to ask customers what topics they would like to learn more about. Check it out here: