How to collect customer feedback

In this article we look at five methods of obtaining customer feedback. We look each one in turn and show you how to use each one.

Customer feedback is all about finding out what your customers really think of your business and your products and services. The feedback you collect can be used in conjunction with your website analytics to gain a crystal clear picture of what goes on when customers visit your website.

Five Methods

These are five methods that provide excellent opportunities to collect valuable and qualitative customer feedback.

  1. Customer Surveys
  2. Feedback Boxes
  3. Reaching out directly to customers
  4. User activity through customer analytics
  5. Usability tests

Customer Surveys

This is the most typical method of collecting feedback from customers and is used by nearly every single business and organisation. This method can be divided into two types of customer survey.

  1. Long Surveys
  2. Short Surveys

Long Surveys

These are very familiar to us all and typically take a long time to complete if not designed and thought out properly. They can also provide poor results because they are rushed, incomplete or the responses are unhelpful.

To make this type of survey and easy and quick task for customers you should ensure the survey follows three basic rules of thumb.

  1. Keep the number of questions under 10 key questions.
    You should aim to keep your survey questions to 5 questions or less. You should not exceed 10 questions. This strategy ensures that customers will take the time to complete your survey and provide you with the quality answers that you want.
  1. Ask only essential questions
    Your survey has a purpose. Every question should be relevant to that purpose. You should ask only essential questions such as “Did you like your shopping experience with us?” Do not include questions that are not relevant and serve no real purpose to the aim of your survey. Irrelevant questions waste your time and the customer’s time.   
  1. Use open ended questions
    Ratings scales and multiple choice questions are useful in many ways. However, if you use open ended questions you can see what the customer is really thinking.

Short Surveys

These are typically found in 2 places.

  1. Within websites
    Short surveys are usually found within the website of the business that customers have used to purchase from. Customers are directed to webpage containing the survey via links in the website or via email following the sale. The surveys typically ask one to two highly relevant questions so are simple and quick to answer. 
  2. At the end of customer service calls
    Short surveys can follow the end of a call to customer services and are usually an option when the call is being concluded. As above, the questions are highly relevant and simple to answer by speaking verbally or using the handset keys.  

Feedback Boxes

When customers experience minor problems with a service they tend to give up on walk away feeling frustrated. For example, if a customer has a problem ordering online and is forever waiting for the item to arrive, they will most likely use another service next time.

Surveys might catch the problem or issue if a related question at the right time. If minor issues continue to pose problems for customers they will all shop elsewhere.
This is where feedback forms can be of great help.

A feedback box can be a simple form with a single question such as “How did we do today?” or “How can we improve this page?” followed by a comment box. The whole point of a these is to get feedback from customers about small things.

Good feedback forms

Good examples of these are simple, easy to use and easily fund when they customer wants them.

Hey should have one to two simple relevant questions with a comment box for each question and a simple submit button. That is all!

Bad feedback forms

Bad examples are simply over complicated forms that have bombarded customers with irrelevant questions with scales and rates which will turn the customers away immediately because the whole thing is too much work.

Once your feedback starts to come in every last item of feedback must get a response and within 24 hours. If comments are posted in a forum other customers will be encouraged to leave feedback knowing a response will be made to it. Customer will be reassured in most cases if the issue is a common one and is being resolved.

Reaching out directly to customers

If you truly wish to understand somebody you must talk to them. Surveys, feedback boxes, email, or even analytics are all very good but all sorts of contextual information is missed out.

Reaching out to your customers about their issues or problems with you service such as actually phoning them up, meeting with them will help you find out what is really going on and allow the problem to the solved rather than symptoms of the problem.

For example, if your customers receive your invoices in Corel WordPerfect format and some customers use Microsoft Word. These customers may have trouble opening the invoices because of the formatting issue. Customers can use converters but this is more work for them if they get many invoices this way. Through reaching out you can find out how much a problem this is rather than relying on surveys and feedback boxes totally. The solution you could present customers is a switch to invoices using Adobe PDF which everyone has. Problem solved.      

User activity through customer analytics

Web analytics products such as Google Analytics get a sense of what the total usage of a website is like. What these don’t do is give a sense of what the individual person is doing. Why? This is because they were built to track websites as a whole, not your customers or users.

If you look through the activity of individual customers, it is much easier to identify the reason why certain outcomes occur such a leaving your online store after browsing a product or leaving at the shopping cart stage of the purchase.

How can you find out what your customers are really doing? Services such as kissmetrics.com or marketforce.com provide this information.

Usability tests
This method can highlight issues with your fabulous new app or new website even though you and beta testers may have been through with a fine tooth comb.

You should get people from your target market to participate in your user testing and not anyone such a brothers or sisters or family because feedback could be biased and sugar coated.

You should then note down the problems and issues encountered and resolve them.

So much feedback!

With all this feedback coming in, what do you do? You will not be able to resolve every single issue or respond to each item even if you had the best will in the world.
You look for trends such as a particular page sometimes being a issue to customers because of they use a certain type of browser and a particular version.

You act upon these trends and see about resolving them.    

Adam Grannell Web Design, 4A Lancaster Way, Repton Park, Ashford, Kent, TN23 3GB
Call us now on 01233 647979 | Email: info@adamgrannellwebdesign.co.uk
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