Customer feedback can help to reveal problems or weaknesses in your business, show how customers use your business, and how you can best improve. With the right system for collecting, managing and using customer feedback, you can save time, collect more accurate data, and use that data more efficiently. As you work on a strategy for customer feedback management, consider these best practices.

9 Best Practices for Customer Feedback Management

1. Set Goals and Objectives

Why are you collecting customer feedback? What questions do you want to answer? How many responses would you need to get an accurate answer? Answers to these questions will help to guide the rest of your customer feedback management process.

As you start planning, decide how many responses you would need, and what type of customer feedback survey you want to use. This will also help you decide whether you can use numeric or multiple choice responses, and what sort of management system you’ll need.

2. Match the Survey Medium and Intent

Make sure that your customer feedback management and collection system matches the type of feedback that you need. For example, if you’d like to collect a lot of responses that you can add or average, such as an NPS or CSAT survey, you’ll need a way to contact customers in bulk. Email is generally a good system for these types of surveys, though you might also contact customers with a website popup, direct mailing, or another method.

If you’re looking for more detailed, customized responses, you’ll need a way to qualify which customers are best to contact, and how to reach them. Email can be useful here as well, but you’ll have to craft this request more carefully. This way, you can get your customers’ attention, prepare them to take a longer survey, and tell them why their feedback is important.

3. Use the Right Tools

Customer feedback management programs may include a number of tools to help create, administer and collect feedback. Make sure that the program or system that you’re using makes sense for the feedback that you want to collect.

For example, if your goal is to collect between 50 and 100 responses answering a simple NPS question, you may only need a simple form and an integration into a spreadsheet. A system made for collecting and quantifying thousands of responses probably isn’t necessary. However, if you plan to send out more complicated surveys, other tools for formatting, sending, and organizing your responses can help you save time. The right tools can even help you automate this process.

4. Make Your Survey Easy to Submit

Whether you’re looking for simple numeric data or more detailed responses, your survey should be easy to submit. Focus on the questions you want answered or the data you want to collect, and write your questions according to this. Be careful not to include extraneous information, or unrelated questions. Emoji or color coding can make answers immediately recognizable, and help respondents move through the questions more quickly. If you’re using an email survey or a landing page, make sure it is mobile-friendly, and works on many different browsers.

5. Analyze Data Efficiently

A key part of customer feedback management is not only how you deliver the surveys, but also how you organize the data you receive. If you’re using a numeric system, like NPS, CSAT, or CES, you may be able to average these numbers yourself on a spreadsheet. If you use independent form tools, an integration can connect your form to a spreadsheet, inputting your customers’ responses automatically. Then, you can add and average the responses accordingly. Or, if you’re using survey software, the tools will help you calculate this automatically.

If you’re using open-ended questions, you might use keywords to organize your responses. If, for example, you’re looking for details about your purchasing system, you might use this as a keyword. Or, if you want to divide your answers between positive and negative, you might sort responses using complimentary or critical terms.

6. Respond and Thank Customers

It’s important to thank your customers for taking the time to give responses, whether the answers took a few minutes or a few moments. Consider creating separate responses depending on the feedback customers provide. If your customers respond negatively, point them towards your customer service department. If your customers respond positively, consider asking them to submit a third-party review.

7. Incentivize Thoughtfully

Incentives like discounts and gift cards can help to increase response rates, but use these carefully. Incentives can skew your response, especially if the incentive is attached to your business. For example, if you offer customers a discount for their responses, this won’t be very effective for unhappy customers who don’t plan on purchasing or visiting again. This will skew your results towards happy customers.

8. Consider accuracy

Incentives aren’t the only thing that can skew the accuracy of your response. Make sure your questions are clear, and customers know what answer they’re giving. For example when asking a customer to rate their satisfaction, make sure it is clear that a 0 is low satisfaction, and a 10 is high satisfaction. Also, use clear and direct questions. A question like “would you recommend our staff and check-out process?” isn’t clear—the staff might’ve been helpful, but the checkout process was overly complex.

Be sure to calculate your responses properly as well, and gather enough responses to draw accurate conclusions. The more responses you receive, the more accurate your data is likely to be. If your sample size is too small, continue running the survey until you have a larger one, or try running the survey again at a later time, or in a different way.

9. Use your Feedback

You’ve asked your customers what they think, measured your results, and come up with conclusions. Maybe your purchasing system is overly complex. Maybe your website is difficult to navigate. Or maybe customers love your new product, and you should advertise it more heavily. Whatever conclusions you arrive at, be ready to take action and make changes. Gathering feedback without being ready to fix problems you discover or capitalize on advantages means your survey ultimately isn’t useful.

Customer feedback management is important for growing businesses. Once you’ve polled your customers and drawn insights, you can make adjustments that will solve their problems and better serve their needs. This will keep your business growing in the right direction, and stop problems from chipping away at sales.

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