Entrepreneur
Article
By Amanda Wilks

4 Great Ways to Get Actionable Customer Feedback

By Amanda Wilks

A group having a discussion

Since the dawn of time, asking people what they wanted in order to make them a tailored offer is one of the founding bricks of smart commerce. In our fast-paced, highly technological and marketing-oriented world, asking people how they feel about you, what they want from you and what you can do to keep them happy sounds like a no-brainer.

We have customer satisfaction polls and surveys for everything these days, and seasoned businessmen and beginner entrepreneurs know that they should always get as much feedback from their clients as they can. However, the most popular question of them all “Are you satisfied with our product/service?” seems to lead nowhere: being a rather vague word expressing an average emotion, it doesn’t tell you much about your company either.

I Can’t Get No Satisfaction

Let’s change perspective for a second: you use products and services every day. There are tens or hundreds of companies delivering the same thing and in competition with each other. They want to retain you as a faithful and returning customer and turn you into a conversion from here on in – which is exactly what you want from your own customers. So, one day, they send you a request to participate in their survey of customer satisfaction.

And you are satisfied with their dry cleaning services. But you are also satisfied with other dry cleaners’ services you happened to use in the past. What makes the real difference between them? Which of the two companies is the one turning you into a zealot, a loyal client, a customer that will not sleep until they tell the entire world how ecstatic they are with that particular dry cleaner?

When it comes to surveying for satisfaction, you swim in murky waters, as the word doesn’t give you a clear idea on what to do next to improve your business. So, let’s change the tune a little and see if you can get actionable feedback instead of just feedback.

1. Survey Behavioral Insights – Vero Used Pop-Up Survey Questions

Now, this may sound quite complicated, but it isn’t. Instead of asking your customers to offer you generalized feedback for products or services or their general position towards your company, you can individualize your surveys and ask people for real feedback related to specific issues that interest you:

  • Survey their interaction with your website landing page: is it catchy enough? Do they find what they are looking for just after a quick eye-browsing? Is there a visible search bar? Do they get confused by the template? What other things would they like to see the first second they land on your company’s website?
  • Survey real-time interaction with a product you sell.

Tools like Qualaroo and Google Customer Survey allow you to ask people questions on the spot and redirect them to pages of interest in real time. They also allow you to understand customer behavior, issues and need for help. Listening to your clients in real time and registering their answers not only helps you learn what they want but also teaches you how to approach the new ones.

A good case study is Vero and their Qualaroo survey which helped them understand how users read their articles, why they subscribe to their newsletter and how they navigate the site. The on-site survey increased Vero’s conversions by 25%.

The Lesson

Don’t expect people to know what they want or how they feel and voluntarily share things with you. Get ahead of your competition and use on-site surveys that personalize the experience of your users and gather information from them. After all, you should learn from high-converting websites that do things differently instead of trying to reinvent the wheel.

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2. Ask the Right Questions in Polls – Perfect Audience Is a Good Source of Inspiration

How many times did you answer a question along the lines of “On a scale from 1 to 10, how satisfied are you with our new toaster”? They say 5 and you are out of business.

When creating a poll or a survey, make sure you know exactly what you ask and guide people to tell you exactly how they feel. While scale polls are very useful (as we will see in the next example), they are not enough sometimes, as they can offer you a general feeling, not some actionable advice you can implement the next day to grow your business. So, let’s see what can be done:

  • Ask open-ended questions and also offer multiple choice answers related to your products and services. Instead of “how happy are you with our new toaster” ask “what other features would you like our toaster to have?” or “pick one feature that you feel would make a powerful change to our toaster” – you may learn you should add a timer to the toaster to make morning breakfast more efficient or some safety measures so small children can use it as well.
  • Leave room for complex answers: How could we make servicing you easier? What do you love most about our products and why? What specific parts of our services pleased you the most and why?

The Lesson

The Perfect Audience case study shows the company performed quarterly surveys that mixed open questions with open-ended ones, multiple choice ones, and multiple selection options. Answering all these in less than five minutes is a plus. You can learn a great deal about specific products, issues, and problems and actively try to improve on them.

3. Write a Friendly Email – Zingerman’s Perfectly Nailed One

Surveys automatically delivered by email usually have a bad rep, as people tend to mark them as SPAM, especially if they receive tens a day. We said that using scales to get answers might be tricky unless you do it like a pro.

Zingerman’s sent a friendly, human and casual email survey asking only one question: How likely are you to recommend Zingerman’s to a friend or colleague? They asked one question and expected only one answer delivered in the funny and heartwarming shape of a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 = Not a chance and 10 = In a heartbeat.

What many companies fail to understand is that surveys and polls involve advanced statistics and analytics. Do you really have the time and money for that? Ask one simple question and get one simple answer. Of course, people who answered 5 to Zingerman’s question are of little use to the company. But take this idea and improve on it: what if you label each number from 0 to 10 and also ask “why”? You may receive a ton of compliments and many complaints you just can’t do anything about, but understanding the answer to one crucial question is also essential to making a change with your company.

The Lesson

Zingerman’s email survey is considered good practice for a number of reasons:

  • Doesn’t ask you dozens of questions. Thus it doesn’t waste your time.
  • Pinpoints exactly what they wanted to learn in a specific period of time.
  • Addressed the customer in a friendly, casual manner, in perfect coherence with the company’s casual attitude.
  • Can be replicated and improved on easily.
  • It is a small company really trying to evolve, so there’s a lot to learn from them.

4. Organize Focus Groups – Motion Computing Got Its Facts Straight

You probably think of focus groups in the context of politics and big businesses, but this doesn’t mean a small or evolving company cannot take advantage of the benefits of such a direct type of actionable survey. Focus groups usually take place when it comes to the development of a new product. Motion Computing wanted to validate its product development efforts by conducting a highly qualitative research method. What you should consider when asking actionable feedback from a focus group:

  • Make your objectives clear: what do you really want to know?
  • Split large focus groups into smaller focus groups that answer specific questions to individualized features: make a group for product design, another for delivery methods, another for tech specs and so on.
  • Provide groups with demos, examples, and models – people can make better assessments of a service or product if they see it, use it and learn how it works.
  • Use the feedback you received – take the focus group’s result to heart and improve on your product/service. Making things count is an important part of this process.

The Lesson

Motion Computing learned that users had a very different opinion on where a gadget should feature battery slots in comparison to the company’s technicians. Understanding that the participants’ alternative was more efficient and even more suitable, they were able to deliver a better product. What you should learn is that what people want and what you think they want may be completely different things.

What other means of getting actionable feedback from customers do you use? Are you sticking to satisfaction polls and surveys or are you willing to test other innovative methods?

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