Customer feedback isn’t just a nice-to-have. For any organization that is committed to creating a second-to-none customer experience, regularly sourcing customer feedback is mission critical.
Feedback enables you to constantly iterate on your products, optimize the customer journey, and include customer voices in everything you do. With it, your customers can be the engine behind the majority of your decision making, be it product, marketing, or design-related.
However, it can be challenging to source high quality, actionable insights without a solid strategy in place. (An advocacy program that nurtures and engages customers can certainly grease the wheels.)
So we compiled a list of best practices and tips on how to source high quality feedback from your customers. And in the spirit of practicing what we preach, we sourced all our tips though our own advocacy program from… our customers! Read on for their top 10 tips.
1. Align with internal stakeholders across the organization
Advocate feedback is hugely valuable beyond the marketing department. To get maximum value from your advocacy program, get aligned with other departments to collect feedback on their behalf. That way, you can make sure your customers’ voices are heard and can influence decision-making throughout the organization.
“Ask the business FIRST for items they want feedback on or projects they’re considering. Not only will that make sharing client feedback with them easier and more seamless, but it will help you target pointed questions to customers.”
Keeping in close alignment from the start will help stakeholders get maximum benefit out of your feedback. Questions are addressed, feedback is more expansive, and it’s easier to route any feedback you collect to the appropriate teams to consider afterwards.
Success Story: Sourcing Quality Product Feedback From Customers In Just Days
Learn how Kate Cohen of Carbon Black leveraged an advocate community to support product development, design, marketing, and more in this case study—complete with an in-depth look at her strategy every step of the way.
2. Find the sweet spot for questions—not too broad, but not too specific either
One of the most important parts of sourcing quality feedback is asking the right questions—and asking those questions in the right way. If you ask a vague or overly broad question, chances are you won’t get very detailed answers back. But if you ask with enough detail to get people thinking, that’s when you’ll get the best feedback.
It is possible to overcorrect though, so be mindful of not asking overly specific questions either. A good tip is to give prompts that get advocates thinking about specific elements, without being too prescriptive.
“When questions are too broad, people tend to give less detailed answers. For example, if I ask “what did you think of the conference?” someone may say “it was good,” but if I ask “what did you think of _’s presentation on _,” their mind goes more towards specific details. It’s also good to ask for feedback on specific elements of things like quality, viewing ability, and takeaways.”
3. Show an example of what good feedback looks like to steer them on the right path
One of the simplest ways to help your advocates to provide good feedback is to show them what good feedback looks like. Consider providing an example of the kind of answer you’re looking for, and describe what makes it good. This helps make it crystal clear the level of detail you’re looking for.
“At our user conference every year, we’ve shown sample verbatims from customers talking about product features they’d like to see and why. We then use that to frame our decision-making on which features we’re deploying.”
4. Position “asks” as exciting opportunities for customers to have their voices heard
While customer feedback is super useful for your team, don’t overlook how much advocates usually enjoy giving this feedback. Most advocates love providing feedback and knowing that their opinion matters and makes a difference.
Highlighting this while asking for feedback is the best way to get advocates excited about giving feedback versus feeling like it’s a chore.
Letting them know what you’re going to do with their feedback and how it will impact your company, heightens this sense of excitement and will lead to better response rates. Plus, feeling heard and valued by your company will deepen the bond your advocates have with your brand.
“When I was planning our first user conference, I asked my advocates to help pick the swag, food, and speakers. We received a 71 NPS on the event and had 2x the number of attendees we expected.”
Long feedback forms that cover multiple areas of your business can be intimidating, time-consuming, and make it less likely that advocates will answer any individual question in detail.
Instead, try regularly collecting more targeted feedback in smaller bits at a time. This helps keep advocates more engaged, less overwhelmed, and more likely to answer your questions with thought and attention.
“Increasing incentives doesn’t improve the quality of feedback. Instead, we found advocates provided better feedback when we kept our asks simpler and more targeted.”
6. Make asks fun and varied to capture interest and attention
Like with any advocacy initiative, gamifying the experience leads to better engagement. Try spicing up an otherwise boring, old feedback form with campaigns and themes that generate interest and capture attention.
“We try to make the campaigns fun and customized to their interests. For example, customers loved our themed Star Wars and Lord of the Rings campaigns.”
You can also keep asks fun with by getting creative with your feedback format:
“We asked customers to complete a “Mad Libs” challenge in which we asked them very straightforward “fill-in-the-blanks” questions. The results (over 100 responses) had a deep impact on our product team.”
7. Place your “asks” at various landmarks in the customer journey
Another way to solicit feedback on a regular basis without burning out your advocates is to vary the placement of your asks. Not every request for feedback needs to be obvious and direct; consider attaching feedback questions to other activities and places. At the end of emails, other surveys, or in-person during interactive webinars or events are some good places to start.
“I’ve used NPS scores followed by a question about why they chose that score. I also sneak feedback questions in every blog quiz where I ask them what they thought of the article and ask if they’ve implemented the feature and for any feedback on using it.”
Show your advocates appreciation for their time and feedback, and you’ll keep them eager to continue providing feedback in the future.
If you’re using an advocate marketing platform like Influitive, you can gamify the experience and attach point values to challenges for feedback to incentivize and automatically reward advocates for their thoughts.
You can also award bonus points for high quality, helpful answers. This also helps deter “badvocates” from giving one word answers to get freebie points.
“If something needs feedback on a certain timeframe and is very important, we’ll turn that challenge into a contest. We just emphasize that we’re looking for in-depth answers. We award bonus points for more in-depth, good quality responses.”
The feedback you’ve collected is only as good as how you use it. Make sure that customers’ feedback makes it back to the right people internally. Reach out to development or support when a product related issue is brought up. Or alert account managers when you receive alarming NPS scores.
One of the best ways to align everyone is through regular meetings between all internal stakeholders, where feedback can be reviewed and prioritized. Consider sharing important feedback during company all-hands meetings, when everyone is in the same room.
Beyond key stakeholders, consider sharing feedback company-wide to expose the entire company to the voices of the customers they’re serving. Some departments might not feel as close to your customers, but hearing their voices can still be motivating and useful.
“We share customer feedback during the weekly 9 minute company-wide meeting we hold every Wednesday. We also share feedback via our General Slack channel and All Company Email. We include customer quotes/testimonials on our website.”
Finally, after you’ve collected your advocates’ feedback, prioritized it, and acted on it, close the loop with your advocates by letting them know how their feedback made a difference.
This is the ultimate satisfaction that your advocates can receive for their thoughts, and by doing so, you will leave them more committed to the brand and product they helped shape, and eager to continue providing you feedback again and again.
“We hold quarterly product roadmap webinars where they see their feedback in action.”
Your customers are busy people. If you want to get feedback from them, you need to make sure it’s a rewarding and gratifying process for them. When you nurture, engage, and genuinely appreciate your advocates, they will be happy to contribute their thoughts.
It’s also your responsibility to make good use of those voices, and to be transparent throughout the process by letting them know where their feedback is going and how it’s going to be used.
To be respectful of their time and energy, it’s up to you to make your asks and expectations as clear as possible with the right questions, context, and examples to guide them.
If you follow these tips, listen to what your advocates have to say, and make sure they know they’re heard, you’ll find that both you and your customers can benefit from their feedback—over and over and over again.
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