- ‘’I believe customer feedback is the coiled spring that catapults your company. It will continually adjust your trajectory while keeping you on target’’ – Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn
- ‘’Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning’’ – Bill gates
- “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” – Brian Halligan, CEO of HubSpot
- ‘’If we don’t know what’s right, we can’t do more of it. If we don’t know what’s wrong, we can’t do less of it. Without customer feedback, we are destined to fail’’ – Brian Halligan, CEO of HubSpot
Why feedback is so important?
There are 5 main reasons why you would want to collect feedback.
- Understand your customers
- Improve your products
- Engage your customers
- Get testimonials, reviews, referrals
- Benchmark and get better
The end goal is to create a feedback loop. Improving, testing, and asking for feedback again. Business owners are often tasked with managing countless customer requests. They should also be keenly aware that they need not allow their business plans to be driven solely by these requests — or at least not by requests which they haven’t done their due diligence on. So, if you are a business owner wondering how to deal with the constant stream of customer requests and feedback, this one is for you.
What is the role of customer feedback in formulating your business strategies and how do you transform qualitative customer requests into actionable data to inform business decisions? How do you know which requests to act on, which ones are high-priority and which ones to simply ignore?
- For strategic direction, there’s no substitute for hearing directly from customers. You need a data-driven product roadmap, not one driven primarily by gut instinct. Perhaps the most important type of data you can gather and analyze is what your customers are telling you directly. Customer requests and feedback, whether you like what you’re hearing or not, are sources of invaluable business intelligence and customer feedback is a necessary ingredient for crafting a balanced business strategy.
- You have to learn how to read into customer requests to identify the strategic truths behind them. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon learned from his customer survey that customers were interested in buying all sorts of things online. In the hands of a lesser-skilled entrepreneur, the survey results might have seemed confusing and inconclusive. Should we get into electronics yet? Phone accessories? Consumer goods? Business owners, however, need to learn how to filter out signal from noise within the never-ending stream of customer requests and demands. Then they need to figure out how to think both critically and creatively to discover the most important product insights in the signals. These are some of the most valuable skills you can develop as a business owner.
[READ MORE: How to build up your investment knowledge)
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Qualitative customer feedback is not objective
So yes, you must listen to your customers’ requests, encourage their feedback, and regularly review and analyze what they’re telling you. But it’s equally important that you apply filters to this data. You need to see beyond the surface-level comments and requests from your customers to uncover the ‘Why’ behind those requests. Product managers often use a matrix, or scoring framework for weighing which features to implement, based on the company goals, customer value, and development effort. You can employ a prioritization framework, but you can also use a spreadsheet to accomplish a similar prioritization exercise.
Test your feedback form
Before your survey goes live, make sure to proofread it to ensure that it is free of errors. Nothing looks more unprofessional than misspellings and wrong grammar, not only in your customer survey but in everything that you decide to publish. So, take time to review everything before you put it out on the internet for lots of eyes to see. Make sure to test on several devices.
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Ways to identify actionable customer request
- Ask yourself if this request represents an opportunity to bring in new customers. Sometimes, a feature request represents a logical extension to your existing product, but not enough of an improvement to the overall offering to entice new customers to buy. You, of course, need to factor in the value of continually improving on your existing product as a strategy to maintain relationships with your existing customers. But at the same time, you need to remember that you are operating with finite resources. Therefore, you need to balance this retention strategy with an acquisition strategy as well.
- Ask yourself if acting on this request will serve your core persona or if it’s spinning out to a new persona (possibly the wrong one). You also need to do your due diligence before putting this new functionality on the product roadmap. You need to filter customer requests from these tangential personas. And you need to vet them carefully to make sure you’re not wasting time and money.
- Ask yourself if acting on this customer request will yield new functionality that people will actually pay for.
Finally, run customer requests through a filter that asks, “Is this something people would be willing to pay for?” Often, customers ask for functionalities, enhancements, or entirely new products that they sincerely believe they would use — even love. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they would pay for these products.
As a final piece of advice, one would argue that you should never act on a customer request—no matter how logical or even inspired that request seems—without first doing your due diligence. Customer feedback can be helpful. Your intuition can be helpful, as well. But you need to support it all with strategic, thoughtful research. In a nutshell, customer feedback is more important than ever. Stop hoping that your customers will give you their feedback. Be proactive, create a customer-feedback friendly company. More positive customer experience leads to a better reputation and ultimately, an increase in profits.