When was the last time that you changed something about your business or product? Was it an internal, staff-facing change or an external, customer-facing change? Too often, businesses neglect customer-facing changes because they don’t know how to use customer feedback to generate actionable insights. Customer feedback, including testimonials, surveys, comment cards, social mentions and more, has immense value; it’s quantitative and qualitative data you can use to drive real change in your business. With the right process in place, you can use customer feedback to gather actionable insights and make real changes.
How to Use Customer Feedback to Generate Actionable Insights: Step By Step
Step 1: A System For Gathering Customer Feedback
The first step to use customer feedback to generate actionable insights is to set up a method for customers to easily submit their thoughts. The way that you collect customer feedback will partially determine how many and what type of responses you get. Consider the following methods to gather feedback, and keep these methods in mind as you move through the rest of the steps.
Testimonial: Ask customers for testimonials online or in-person to get a full account of their experience.
Survey: Send a short or long survey to your customers, or make it available at your location to answer specific questions.
Comment Cards: Use comment cards at your business to give customers an open-ended feedback format.
Monitor Social Media: Audit your social mentions and reviews regularly to see any feedback you’ve received indirectly.
Focus Groups: Get in-depth data from a group of users through a focus group.
Beta Testers: See what works, what doesn’t and why before releasing a new product or new feature.
Comment box: Allow customers or site visitors to directly submit feedback on a webpage using comment boxes.
Recorded customer service calls: If your customer calls with a question or problem, ask them before the call is over how their experience was.
Face to face: Ask during a meeting or visit how your customer is doing. Ask if you can record their response so you have data to draw on later.
Step 2: Ask the Right Questions
To effectively use customer feedback to generate actionable insights, you must choose your questions carefully. When crafting your questions, consider whether you are looking for quantitative (a lot of simple data) or qualitative (a few detailed responses) data. If you need quantitative data, keep your questions direct and clear, not open-ended. For qualitative data, ask open-ended questions about a customer’s feelings or thoughts.
When using customer feedback, quantitative and qualitative data are best used together to generate actionable insights. Quantitative data can prove with statistical accuracy that a problem exists, such as a low-rated customer service experience, and ensure that you are focusing your efforts in the right place. Qualitative data about an experience can then reveal the specifics of the problem. As you develop your questions, consider the following;
- Do you need quantitative or qualitative data?
- Are your questions clear? Could they be misinterpreted?
- Are your questions directed at the right customers?
- If you are asking about a specific product, service or experience, is this clear?
- Does your format suit your questions?
- Are you asking at the right time? Is the information fresh in the customer’s mind?
Step 3: Data Organization and Interpretation
In order to use customer feedback to draw actionable insights you’ll need a way to aggregate and interpret the data you get. This method will vary depending on the type of data you harvest and the questions you ask.
Quantitative: Utilize data aggregation tools like Google Data Studio or stats within your existing application to organize charts or graphs and draw actionable insights.
Qualitative: Compile your customer accounts together and target keywords to draw common conclusions. Group conclusions together by content to reveal trends.
Step 4: Turn Insights Into Action
With your quantitative data revealing a problem or weakness on a large scale and your qualitative data showing specifically what is missing, you have turned customer feedback into actionable insights. However, these insights do nothing by themselves; you must have a system to turn these conclusions into real change.
Some of these changes may be simple, such as adding a feature to your service, others may require a completely new approach, such as changing your staff training procedure. As you develop solutions, consider the following;
- Make sure the departments and people involved have the power and expertise to organize and implement a change. This may mean involving upper management and customer service staff.
- Instead of placing blame or finding fault with past decisions or methods, focus on forward momentum and positive change.
- Give staff members the tools or training they need to implement this solution.
- Put a system in place to measure the solution’s effectiveness.
- Give the solution time to work and pivot where necessary.
- Cultivate a culture of innovation to fight groupthink and encourage new ideas.
Step 5: Showcase Innovation
You asked your customers what they needed or wanted, and you responded. Show that you were listening and follow up with the customers you talked to. You might send an email explaining the changes that you made, or give customers free access to a new feature you added.This shows that you were listening, that your customers matter, and that you are willing to make a change. If you are in the process of making a change, let your customers know. To see how well your solution is working, you can repeat the process and use customer feedback again to generate actionable insights on your new solution.
It is likely that, during this process, you will receive negative customer feedback. That’s okay. Negative customer feedback points out problems and, if you don’t know about problems, you can’t solve them. With a system in place to turn customer feedback into actionable insights, you can turn these critical comments into valuable, growth-driven change.