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How to ask for customer feedback: 6 different methods
Whether it’s positive feedback, constructive criticism or outright complaints, gathering customer feedback is necessary for any business. It’s like a Global Positioning System (GPS) that tells you if your company is still on the right track.
But unlike these systems that only need a few clicks and taps for them to provide guidance, asking for customer feedback requires a bit more of an art and science.
Below, we share six time-tested ways to get it right, but first, let’s discuss the gravity of customer feedback.
Why is customer feedback important?
1. It helps you understand your customers
When you started your business, you probably outlined a buyer’s persona – a well-researched description of who your customers might be and what they might want. While this persona is a great starting point, real feedback gives you the actual picture. It provides a snapshot of your customers’ desires and experiences, offering insights beyond initial assumptions.
2. It helps improve your products or services
Every product or service has room for enhancement, and feedback when interpreted correctly can guide this process. It’s like a report card that showcases your strengths and pinpoints areas needing attention.
3. Enhances your reputation
Customers are drawn to businesses that genuinely value them, and soliciting feedback and acting upon it proves this commitment. It shows them you care enough by seeking their opinions and addressing any concerns they raise.
4. Increases customer retention
Great customer service is what makes more than nine out of ten customers stay loyal to a brand, and almost eight out of ten will overlook occasional mistakes as long as the company is proactive and keen to rectify them. So when your business really listens to feedback and uses it to better your service, it’s a clear sign you value your customers. Hence, you’re highly likely to retain your current customers.
5. Grows your business
Listening to our customers does more than pinpoint what you’re doing right and areas to improve; it also shows where to grow next. Whether it’s a hint at a new product they’re craving or a nudge to spruce up your current offerings, listening to customers can open doors you didn’t even know were there.
How to get customer feedback
Feedback comes in many forms, from formal to informal, structured to unstructured to solicited to unsolicited. There are also plenty of ways to gather them, such as through the following channels.
1. Social media polls or reviews
Twitter (now X), Reddit, Facebook and Instagram have become hubs for customers to share their experiences, both good and bad, with brands. They offer real-time interactions, making it easy for brands to gauge sentiments.
To leverage this feature,
- make it clear to your customers that you’re open to feedback on these platforms
- use tools that notify you when someone mentions your company
- respond promptly to feedback, both positive and negative
- engage in genuine conversations
- be creative in responding and avoid generic or automated responses
2. Review sites
Platforms like Google, ProductReview, and Trustpilot provide public testimonials that potential customers often check before making purchasing decisions.
You can take advantage of these sites by:
- encouraging satisfied customers to leave feedback
- in cases of negative reviews, addressing them professionally and offering solutions to show commitment to customer satisfaction
These structured questionnaires can gather specific feedback on various areas of interest from product preferences to overall customer satisfaction. You can distribute them via email, embedded on websites, or shared on social media platforms.
But their effectiveness hinges on their structure. You have to ask the right questions and put time in a certain order that entices your customer to answer. Otherwise, your customers will ignore your survey.
For expert assistance in creating an effective survey, Insync provides a well-defined approach through its Voice of the Customer program, backed by industry-benchmarked results.
Emails are versatile tools for collecting feedback. You can shoot over a direct question asking, “How did we do?”, share a survey, or nudge them towards a review site. Whichever you choose, keep it straightforward yet warm. After all, you’re asking for a moment of their time, so don’t take too much.
5. Comment boxes
The classic comment boxes are another feedback-gathering option for brick-and-mortar stores. To maximise their potential, place them in conspicuous places. Then, follow the same principle–make the instructions straightforward and the feedback process hassle-free. Have the pen and the form ready, and keep the questions minimal and focused. If you need help crafting questions, we can help.
6. Interviews and focus groups
Lastly, there are interviews and focus groups. They can range from structured Q&A sessions to more relaxed discussions like, “How do you feel about our X?” The advantage of this approach is the opportunity for follow-up questions and seeking clarifications immediately. But not everyone can be open to it or may sugarcoat their responses to avoid offending you.
Should you decide to use this approach, create a comfortable environment so participants feel safe to share their genuine thoughts and experiences. If you need guidance in conducting focus groups and interviews, our expert team can help.
How to encourage customer feedback
Although there are many ways to get customer feedback, you may need to nudge customers to share their thoughts. Often, it’s only the extremes that prompt feedback: an exceptional service experience or a notably poor one that they wish to warn others about.
So here are some strategies to motivate the customers more:
1. Incentivise with rewards
Maybe it’s a discount on their next purchase or a raffle ticket for a chance to win big prizes, rewards can boost the likelihood of customers providing feedback. Many e-commerce platforms excel in this approach, rewarding reviews with points or coins they can redeem for discounts at checkout.
2. Make it easy
Ensure your instructions are clear and direct to the point. Mobile applications have been applying this principle for a long time through their straightforward question, “Enjoying our app?” then below these words are stars for rating. Once you click submit, it will take the user to the application store, where they will confirm they want to post their review. It takes less than a minute to complete the process.
3. Give options
While detailed feedback is the aim, it’s not always feasible. So give your customers options. It can be a single-question survey such as “Are you satisfied with our service?”, a short form with a couple of questions or a request to leave Facebook or Google review.
4. Follow up on your requests
Your initial request for feedback might not be at the best moment for the customer. It’s a good idea to circle back after a while. Give it a week or so, then gently remind them to leave you a review.
5. Don’t spam
While feedback is necessary for any business, it’s not a licence to bombard customers with follow-up requests. Set a reasonable time for follow-ups, and after some attempts and they still haven’t responded, it’s best to step back.
Industries where customer feedback is most valuable
If your business is in any of the following industries, aim to have a solid feedback framework because your customers rely heavily on reviews before they choose a brand to deal with.
1.Retail and e-commerce
Almost all online shoppers read reviews, with 96% explicitly searching for negative feedback. So, ensure you regularly ask for customer feedback and maintain a high rating. If there are negative reviews, address them properly.
2. Hospitality and tourism
Eighty-one per cent of travellers consider online hotel reviews crucial, and nearly half won’t book a hotel without any reviews. Yet, only 22% leave feedback without being asked. Given how essential reviews are in these industries, you should ensure you’re actively seeking customer feedback.
Healthcare services usually involve sharing sensitive information, significant costs and undergoing a potentially painful procedure. Hence, patients rely heavily on recommendations from peers or online, with almost eight out of ten patients basing their decisions on testimonials.
4. Software and technology
Nearly eight out of ten read app reviews before downloading and less than one in ten will choose your company if you have a rating below three stars. These numbers show the importance of maintaining a positive online reputation and the significant influence reviews have on consumer decision-making.
5. Financial services
The financial services industry usually involves a considerable amount of money; hence, customers want to pick the best partner for their investment. To help them choose, they rely on others’ experiences before deciding. In fact, 61% check online reviews when picking an insurance agent. And if they think they’ll get better service somewhere else–whether it’s banking, lending or insurance–8 out of 10 are ready to switch.
6. Real estate
This is another industry where large sums of money are involved, so people are wary. From locations to builders, people want to ensure their investment will not go to waste. Even if they are just renting, they still rely on others’ feedback to make sure the place will not be a source of stress in the long run. But real estate agents are often viewed with scepticism. In fact, they are the least trusted professionals in 2023. This makes reviews even more crucial in the industry. Positive feedback can help build trust.