Customer Feedback Management: The ABC Strategy

Posted by Emily Smith on June 5, 2019
Emily Smith

Although there are multiple types of customer feedback, product feedback (whether for early-stage decisions or measuring established brand awareness) is often the most difficult and expensive type to collect. The ABC Strategy can make that process more clearly defined, and actionable.

 
Customer Feedback Management Facts
  • A "totally satisfied customer" contributes 2.6x as much revenue as a "somewhat satisfied customer," and can influence a customer's lifetime value. (Hubspot)
  • After having a positive experience with a company, 77% of customers would recommend it to a friend - and most new leads come from customer referrals! (HelpScout)
  • More than half of all customer complaints are about poor follow-up. (Harvard Business Review)

 

customer feedback management
 
 
Ask For Customer Feedback

Ask your customers for feedback on your product. 

1. Develop An Ideas Portal

Outside of traditional customer feedback management methods like focus groups, there are few options that make curating customer responses so easy. Although an "ideas portal" sounds vague and unstructured, the concept typically manifests as a community forum, which can be monitored by a moderator. 

HubSpot's portal, for example, gives a clear timeline from submission to follow up. While also an excellent example of how customer feedback should generally be handled, this "ideas portal" allows for community feedback including additional comments and votes. 

This method is possible because HubSpot cultivates an engaged customer community. 

Screen Shot 2019-06-01 at 10.30.39 PM

 

Another example of a virtual suggestion box is Typeform's streamlined template for customer feedback. Unlike HubSpot's ideas portal, it doesn't involve active moderation, and there are options to gamify the process as a way of contributing value to the customer who voluntarily fills it out.

 

online suggestion box

2. Ask Your Customer Success Team For Feedback

Sometimes, a wealth of customer behavior information can be found internally. Ask your Customer Success team (for B2B services) or Customer Service team (for B2C services) to give you the demo walk-through or elevator pitch that they typically give clients and jog their memory for common customer feedback questions.

Some questions to ask your team are:

  • What product collateral do you send to customers?
  • What help docs are most commonly used?
  • What are customers disappointed about most often?

Product is another team with specific customer insights. Circle back and close the customer feedback loop with their exclusive knowledge of user experience. 

3. Try User Testing

Similar to a focus group, this customer feedback management strategy requires a sample - like a survey, however, the process of acquiring that sample is less formal and time consuming. A usability test can take the format of an in-person feedback session or through user experience tools like Freshworks, which offers measurement features like heat maps and user session replays.

A user testing process should include the following steps:

  1. Make sure your product is ready for testing
  2. Source your sample 
  3. Write a test outline with timeline and goals
  4. Conduct the test
  5. Package and present your customer insights 

Rather than conducting a user test on an entire product, start with one feature or pain point. If you're interested in what a customer initially sees on your site, then assign the test participant a series of tasks where they interact with your homepage. Put together a test that involves 3 iterations of the same homepage and gauge the usability of each version. 

Source your sample through traditional vendors or through more contemporary methods like Facebook crowdsourcing. Run ads that cater to your audience demographic and incentivize users with gift cards or free trials. 

Next, write an outline for your user test that includes your process timeline (from participant sample procurement to data analysis) and measurable goals: both qualitative and quantitative. 

 

product user testing

 

Playing the role of the moderator and the researcher are sometimes separate jobs. If you don't have a formal background in interviewing or moderation, strengthen your skills with professional courses in observing, listening and empathy. Try a craft of writing class to hone your question-writing style, or attend a Toastmasters meeting to re-consider how you perceive the function of a conversation. 

Place Customer Feedback In Buckets

This is where your feedback data can get messy.

Before deciding what tools or styles to use in organizing your feedback, you must bucket the feedback into categories:

  • Major product bugs and minor product bugs
  • Usability issues
  • Feature requests
  • User education issues
  • Pricing/billing
  • Generic positive (e.g. “I love your product!”) and negative feedback (e.g. “I hate your product!”)
  • Junk (this is useful for nonsense feedback like “fabovacuum!”)
  • Other (hard to categorize feedback), which you can re-categorize later as patterns emerge in the rest of the data

This is not an exhaustive list of feedback categories, but starting here can inspire buckets specific to your business or customer personas, and selecting a method of organization makes it scaleable. 

Instead of categorizing all of your data in an Excel file, find a software that will organize your customer data - at least in part - for you. However, bucketing various types of data in a CSV file is still possible using a PivotTable or VLOOKUP. 

To create a PivotTable, follow the instructions in this video:

 

 

In order to setup a VLOOKUP function in Excel, there must be a common field or key and four arguments. The function allows you to search for an exact match or approximate match. To implement the function, follow these instructions:

Approximate Match

  1. Add in the column where you’ll enter the formula. In my case, I added Column E – Segment.
  2. Click cell E2.
  3. Click your Formulas tab from the top menu.
  4. Click the Insert Function button.
  5. From the Insert Function dialog, type “vlookup” in the Search for a function textbox. You may also select it from the Lookup & Reference category. Click Go.
  6. In Lookup_value type D2. Or, you can click the cell.
  7. In Table_array type $H$2:$I$5. Note the $ signs.
  8. In Col_index_num type 2.
  9. In Range_lookup type true.The Function Arguments dialog will appear with textboxes for the required arguments. Click OK. You should now see “Mature” in cell E2.
  10. Click cell E2. Click the small green square (fill handle) in the cell’s lower right corner to copy the VLOOKUP formula down the column.

Exact Match

  1. Download the starting Excel sample file
  2. Review the Voters worksheet. It has voter first and last names, but only a PCODE.
  3. Review the Party Codes worksheet. It has a listing of party codes and political names. Each of the Party Codes and Names are unique. You’ll also note that Column A is in sorted in ascending order.
  4. Add your new column on the Voters worksheet that will display the info pulled from the Lookup table on the Party Codes worksheet. In my example, I added a column called Political Party in Column D. This is where I will insert the Excel function.
  5. Place your cursor in the first blank cell in that column. In my example, this is cell D2.
  6. Follow the Steps 3-7 from Scenario 1.

 

Commit To Change Based On Findings

Share your new insights with stakeholders, and implement changes accordingly. Then, follow up with your customer, and ensure them that their voice is heard. 

Internal Feedback Distribution 

The first step toward acting on customer feedback is to share your findings internally with business leaders. This means turning your categorized data into compelling visualizations, and recommendations based on common customer pain points. 

An excellent example of branded video content that turned customer challenges into a narrative is the Buzzfeed/Purina short below.

 

 

These product feedback presentations should be relevant to each leader, who will be more likely to act on your findings if presented in a clear, story-like manner. Laying out your data visualization story should look something like this:

  1. Demonstrate Impact
    • This is a way to highlight the most insightful findings. To make an impression, extract the emotional elements of the data (like quotes, testimonials, and customer stories) and frame them in relation to how that effects individual leaders, the team, and the business.
  2. Humanize Your Data
    • In addition to customer stories, include photos or videos of customers interacting with your brand. The most successful brands are customer-centric, so make sure that's clear in the presentation.
  3. Communicate Visually
    • Our brains are pre-wired to favor visual communication, which means the presentation of product feedback is stronger when its manifests as a story in graphs and charts, but also in visual language.
    • Visual language can include elements like your company's logo, colors, font and typography, hierarchies, illustrations, iconography, interactive elements, and so on. Consider what emotion each of these elements carry, and apply them strategically throughout the presentation.
Once you've won over senior leadership with your killer storytelling, it's time to onboard other employees. Sharing high-level insights and actions plans helps build a culture where employees understand their contributions to the company’s success, and feel a sense of ownership in the outcome of the customer experience.

Try sharing feedback with employees through something as basic as a Slack channel, or as measured as a monthly digest. Regardless of your method of distribution, any avenue is better than letting your findings sit in a spreadsheet unused. 

External Feedback Distribution

Here's where the customer feedback loop closes.

Following up with customers on the feedback they provided is arguably the most essential step in this feedback management process. Almost 50% of customers don't leave feedback because they feel a company won't take action on their suggestions. That means companies that passively collect feedback, or who don't actively make feedback intake accessible, are missing out on a lot of user-generated ideation. 

Another common customer perception of feedback is that it's often too slow. A whopping 81% of customers would leave feedback if company responses were faster. 

There are a number of ways to act on customer feedback, including:

  • Publishing a report detailing how your company has addressed feedback
  • Mail swag boxes or personal notes to people who gave you incredible feedback
  • Personalize an email response thanking them for feedback, or address the email from an executive
  • Set up social accounts dedicated to customer support, including a timeline of expectations
  • Use a public feature request Trello board or Slack channel (like below)

customer feedback process


Ultimately, the product you're ideating and developing is for your customer, meaning there's a clear correlation between customer feedback and ROI. Another way to think of customer feedback management is in the context of entertainment - fans obsessively consume content related to their favorite TV shows because it's made available to them. They collect swag, watch interviews, and interact with actors on social media. Fans aren't asked to participate, but they actively do so because it brings them pleasure. Think of your brand or company as an entertainer - engage, provide support, and offer endless opportunities to consume your product and its variations that your customers want.


Interested in other customer feedback management tools and tricks? Continue reading below,

READ: "A.I. Tools for Customer Engagement"

Topics: Customer Feedback