What is customer  feedback?

Customer feedback is the information that customers give to you regarding their experiences with your company and product. Such feedback can come to you through a variety of channels but it is always valuable information, as it can reveal opportunities to improve.

There are two challenges to dealing with customer feedback. The first is collecting enough feedback from a variety of customers. We’ll offer ways to ask for feedback and make it easy for customers to provide it. The second challenge is categorizing and putting customer feedback into action. If you’re overwhelmed with customer opinions, we’ll show you how you can collate this information and use it to improve your product and win customers over for life.

Customers are constantly giving their feedback through either their words or their actions. For companies who listen, collect, and use that feedback, there’s a huge opportunity to improve the customer experience and to grow their businesses.

Customer feedback

Why customer feedback matters

Feedback helps your team understand exactly what your customers want and need. When you know that, then you can offer more of what your customers like and less of what they don’t. The outcome is a better customer experience. And with that comes more satisfied and loyal customers who will spend more with your business.

Furthermore, customers will talk about their experiences with friends and family. If their experiences are good, then that means more referrals for you and more sales. On the other hand, if their experiences are bad, then that could mean a lot of lost business, especially with the rapid pace at which information is shared using technology today.

It’s not enough to simply answer incoming customer inquiries. To be competitive, you have to be proactive, seeking to understand your customer base and taking the necessary steps to make decisions based on their feedback.

And it’s not just customer support who should be listening. Every department can benefit from the insights contained in customer feedback -- from product and engineering to marketing, and operations, understanding what customers think can inform strategy and help teams prioritize resources based on the highest potential impact.

The best ways to collect customer feedback

Give customers a way to contact you, then listen

First and foremost, make sure you have an easy way for customers to get in touch with you. There are many ways that customers might want to communicate: email, live chat, phone, social media, and more. Choose at least one channel and display your contact information clearly on your website, social media profiles, packaging materials, and wherever customers come into contact with your brand.

When customers reach out to get answers to their questions and voice their opinions, they’ll also be providing you with valuable feedback. Listen to them and record what they have to say.

As you receive more and more feedback, you may need to implement a ticket tagging process to help you flag common issues and collect and combine everything into a cohesive picture - and we’ll cover how to do that later! But you can’t create a tagging process without understanding common themes in your customer feedback, so start by enabling your customers to reach out to you and listening to get a sense for the things that are important to them.

Ask for feedback

Many customers will openly share their feedback when they contact you for help. But there are many other customers who may not need to contact you, but who also have valuable opinions. To get more and different viewpoints on your customer experience, reach out to your customers and proactively solicit their feedback through surveys.

You can survey your customers to ask them about anything you’d like to know more about like:

Be careful not to ask too many questions in one survey. Otherwise, it may be difficult to get customers to complete the survey. Also, asking too many questions may also result in your customers rushing through their answers, affecting the quality and reliability of their responses.

Another thing to be mindful about when surveying customers is timing and whether or not it makes sense to ask a particular customer about a certain experience. For example, if you’d like to survey your customer about the ease of the ordering process and speed of shipping, then wait until that customer has placed an order and received their merchandise before surveying them. Finally, don’t survey the same set of customers too often. Otherwise, customers may get tired of filling them out and it may be difficult to collect data as your survey completion rates drop.

Learn how to structure your survey questions

There are many ways to structure your survey questions, for example, multiple choice, rating scale, rank order, and closed-ended. If you haven’t done much surveying of your customer base, then a good place to start is by using open-ended questions. Other question types may be affected by your own assumptions since you’ll be providing customers with a limited set of answers.

On the other hand, open-ended questions will give you a broad perspective on what your customers think. Bear in mind, however, that a lot of open-ended data can be unruly, so proceed with caution. Start with a small audience when sending such open-ended surveys to ensure you can process all the feedback you receive in a timely manner.

The NPS Survey

One popular survey standard is the Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey. NPS is meant to measure customer experience based on their likelihood to recommend your brand to others. To make it a true NPS survey, you should always ask, “How likely is it that you would recommend [brand] to a friend or colleague?”

Scoring options should be arranged from 0-10, from left to right, with a text marker at 0 indicating “not at all likely,” a text marker at 5 indicating “neutral,” and a text marker at 10 indicating “extremely likely.”

Customers who rate you between 0-6 are considered “detractors,” meaning they’re unhappy and can negatively impact your business. Those who rate between 7-8 are called “passive,” and are generally satisfied but not extremely loyal. And those who rate a 9 or 10 are termed “promoters,” and they’ll keep buying from you and telling others about you.

You can include supplementary questions like “How likely are you to recommend our company based on the speed of our website?” to learn more about specific elements of the customer experience. Be sure to include a comment field after each question to gather qualitative insight and help you understand the reason behind each rating. By grouping comments with their NPS score, you can understand what drives customers to become promoters, or what’s causing customers to identify as detractors.

NPS will help you discover how loyal your customer base is feeling, reveal opportunities to improve the customer experience, and allow you to compare yourself to other businesses in your industry.

Customer Satisfaction Surveys

A slightly different way to survey your customers than discussed above is to send something right after a customer has interacted with your customer support team. A popular standard is the Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) survey, which you can use to gauge how your customers feel about their experiences communicating with your support team.

With CSAT, you can ask the question, “How was your support experience?” and provide customers with a range of options to assess their opinion. For example, you could include a five-point scale starting with “Very Bad” and ending in “Very Good.” You might also choose a ten-point scale for more granularity or a set of emoji for a fun customer base who might enjoy rating in that way.

You can send a CSAT survey via email as a follow up after closing a conversation with a customer. You can also embed the survey in your email signature to give customers an evergreen way to rate how they feel about your support. Either way, keep your survey short to encourage high response rates. But be sure to include a comment field so you can understand the reason for the rating.

With CSAT surveys, you’ll uncover valuable information about how customers feel about their interactions with your support team, which is a big factor that contributes to the overall customer experience.

In-app surveys

Aside from email, you can also send short surveys from within your website. These are particularly helpful for gauging how customers feel about your overall website experience: the navigability, the design, and the functionality. You can also drill into a particular feature by sending a survey while a customer is using that feature or right after they’ve finished using it.

Freshdesk’s feedback widget can be embedded anywhere on your website or in-product to drive feedback responses where your customers already are. This results in great, in-the-moment insights, which can often be more honest than follow up surveys.

Keep these in-app surveys even shorter than the ones you’d send through email. Your customers are using your website to achieve a goal, perhaps even to buy your product, so it’s best not to take them too far away from what they set out to do on your site.

 

How to categorize customer feedback

Categorizing inbound customer feedback

All the feedback in the world won’t matter unless you can process it and do something about it, so it’s important to categorize and measure feedback in a way that leads to action.

In terms of the feedback you receive through your support channels, you first need to develop an understanding of common themes and root causes for customer outreach. There’s no substitute for carefully reviewing individual pieces of inbound feedback until you’re able to identify trends. Once you’ve spotted some trends, you can create a list of categories and start tagging all your inbound customer communications. Most helpdesk ticketing systems will have a feature that will make this possible.

One way to tag your communications is by using both high-level categories that help you capture big picture themes as well as sub-categories that help you understand more specific threads within each theme.

Categorizing feedback gathered through surveys

Similar to the feedback you receive through your support channels, the feedback that you get through surveys can also be placed into buckets based on common themes and segmented by sentiment.

Review each piece of commentary alongside it’s numeric rating. As you start to notice themes, come up with a list, and use it as a standard for assigning themes to each rating moving forward.

Reviewing categorized feedback

Centralize all the data you generate and review it regularly to uncover the biggest drivers behind good and bad customer experiences. All the aggregated feedback becomes a way for your customers’ voices to be heard.

By creating reports on tags using a help desk software, you can see what comes up most frequently to inform your business about what is most important to customers and what they should be focusing on fixing.

Keep track of how the data fluctuates over time. Your product and business aren’t static, and your customers’ expectations aren’t set in stone. Things will change. Be sure to stay tuned in to what your customers are sharing to ensure you’re regularly re-anchoring your approach and focusing on the right things.

By tracking fluctuations over time, you’ll also be able to see the results of changes you make in an effort to improve the customer experience and your ratings. As you make changes, you should see the data shift accordingly. For example, if you fixed a bug that was causing a lot of customer complaints, you should see the amount of volume related to bugs go down after the fix. If not, it’s time to drill in to see if that bug was truly fixed, or if there’s a new one to squash.

Diving deeper into feedback

You can also split up the data by other variables like:

This will help you understand the differences among unique groups of customers and allow you to further refine your strategy. For example, you might notice that NPS is much higher for free customers.

You could split your data a million different ways. A good rule of thumb is that by looking at your data in a certain way, you should be trying to answer a question that will inform your future strategy. In the example above, knowing that NPS is higher for free customers would perhaps prompt you to focus more of your efforts on improving the experience of paid customers.

Closing the loop

Make sure you respond to customer feedback so customers feel heard and know that you’re working on getting better. Thanking them and providing them with any additional relevant information will make them feel like a valued contributor and encourage them to give future feedback.

In some cases, responding to feedback will also give you a second chance to solve a customer issue if something went wrong the first time around.

Sharing customer feedback with your team

Feedback shouldn’t end with customer support teams. Establish a process for regularly sharing feedback with other teams to keep them in the loop about the roles they can play in improving the customer experience.

Depending on the preferences of your team, you might do this asynchronously through a channel like email or as part of a cross-functional meeting. Whatever you decide, be sure to share feedback in a clear and consistent way. Sharing one-off stories of customer feedback with other teams is fine, but don’t expect that style of communication to drive much change.

Teams are busy and constantly bombarded with competing priorities. Present them with a well-structured overview of customer feedback that combines the quantitative data you’ve collected with qualitative stories around what that data means, and do it at regular intervals like weekly or monthly so your team learns to expect it and builds it into their routine.

When reviewing feedback with other teams, don’t just focus on the bad. Including examples of what customers enjoy will encourage other teams to keep focusing on those things, and it will help them look forward to receiving feedback because they’ll be eager to hear about the good things they’re doing.

 

Using a customer service software brings it all together

All of the above couldn’t be accomplished with much efficiency or effectiveness without using a customer service software like Freshdesk. A good solution will help make tracking customer feedback and improving the customer experience seamless for your team.

Omni-channel support through a centralized inbox

Consolidating customer conversations across channels together in one place that everyone on your team can access means less context switching for your team, fewer tools, and faster, smoother workflows. Customers will receive better responses, faster, because your team will be well-equipped and operating like a well-oiled machine.

Furthermore, customers who reach out to you don’t want to be asked to switch channels when submitting inquiries. They simply want a solution to their problem. Omni-channel support means that customers get a high level of service no matter which channel they use.

Self-service for faster answers

Equip your customers with the resources they need to get answers for themselves, almost immediately, with a robust self-service portal. No matter how fast your customer support team can answer inquiries, getting a solution from a help article is almost always going to be faster.

Many straightforward inquiries can be resolved by a help article, and research has shown that customers often prefer it. To boot, self-service means fewer tickets in your inbox. With less volume, your team can focus even more carefully on customer inquiries and provide even better support.

Automations for improved productivity

Automations for routine tasks like ticket routing make work easier and more enjoyable for your team and smoother for your customers. When little things like setting ticket priorities and reminders to follow up on tickets are taken care of by a software solution, then your team can focus on what they do best: taking care of customers and building relationships.

One way to manage your team’s workload through automation is by distributing tickets to ensure each member of your team has a balanced queue. Freshdesk can even adjust the number of tickets routed to an agent when they’re on break.

Another great way to use automations is to prioritize and route incoming tickets to make sure they get to the right person or team as quickly as possible. Saving time-consuming manual triage of employees reading through tickets and assigning them based on content and let your software do it instead. You can prioritize and route based on many different criteria, including type of customer, language, where they’re writing from, or what they’re writing about. Automated prioritization and routing saves time and ensures that urgent tickets are answered fastest.

Automations free up time from your team, allowing them to focus more on actual customer conversations, and help your team get back to customers faster.

Relevant Resources

Feedback is the key to better customer experiences

Customer feedback is an invaluable resource for your business. If you don’t know what customers like, then you can’t do more of it. And if you don’t know what’s paining your customers, then you can’t fix it.

Collecting, categorizing, and sharing customer feedback with your team will help you uncover what’s on customers’ minds so you can keep improving their experiences, and your business.