Starting a new business is a challenging and rewarding experience. One of the most critical aspects of creating a successful startup is getting feedback from your customers. According to Weber Shandwick Research, the company’s reputation accounts for 63% of its market value. So, it’s worth investing in this asset while you are at the early stage to get good outcomes in the future.
So, from the very beginning, you have to work meticulously with customer feedback to make it a valuable resource that can help you improve your products, services, and marketing strategies. In this article, we will explore the benefits of customer feedback, methods to collect it, and how to analyze and utilize the information.
Benefits of Customer Feedback
Remember that everything you do is for your existing and future clients. So, getting the info about what people think about your product lets you know their needs and pain points perfectly. Let’s dive into the details.
Improved Customer Satisfaction
Customers are the backbone of any business, and their satisfaction is crucial to its success. By collecting feedback, you can identify areas where your customers are happy and where they are not. If you can address these issues, you can increase customer satisfaction and NPS, resulting in positive word-of-mouth marketing.
As a startup, you make a lot of effort to bring in your first clients. And we understand your disappointment when you see the churn. The feedback from those people will help you find out the reasons why and give you the right direction both for product development and communication.
Enhanced Product Development
As mentioned above, customer feedback can help you identify features that need fixing or features your clients would like to see added. You can increase their loyalty and attract new people by using feedback to improve your products and services.
For example, you created an appointment scheduling app and want to learn how to attract users’ attention and increase sales. By collecting feedback, you may find out that the product is generally good, but integrations with different calendars need to be improved. Suppose clients want more flexibility and are ready to pay for smaller availability slots (15 minutes instead of half an hour, for instance). In that case, you can consider that and improve your product to outperform your competitors.
Then you use all your enhancements as your product’s strong points in your marketing campaign. You can say that your app works with the web, Android and IOS. It allows flexible scheduling, easily integrates with different calendars, tools like Zoom and other online meeting tools, makes easy cancelation or rescheduling, and so on.
Increased Customer Loyalty
When you are a big company, you probably have both marketing and PR teams to manage your reputation. But if you are at the startup stage, making a strong first impression is crucial. Difficult? For sure, considering the fact that your tasks are scheduled for 24 hours and 7 days a week. So, what should you do?
You must listen to your customers and address their concerns during this phase. This can lead to increased customer loyalty, which is essential for the long-term success of your business. Loyal customers are more likely to recommend your company to others, which can help you grow your customer base.
And the worst thing you can do here is ignore customer feedback. The one who remains silent in response to numerous complaints demonstrates that he doesn’t care about making his customers happy. He is unwilling to help them resolve their issues (and that’s the main reason the product has been created) but simply wants to take money from them.
So, stay in touch with your clients and remember:
According to Statista, nearly 70 percent of online shoppers typically read between one and six customer reviews before purchasing. Less than one in ten shoppers did not have a habit of reading customer reviews before buying.
In B2B, your counterparties will also look carefully at your reputation.
Clients are more likely to do business with companies that value their opinions and feedback. By actively seeking customer feedback and implementing changes based on that feedback, you can build a reputation as a customer-centric business.
Methods to Collect Customer Feedback
We discussed the question “why” you need the info from your customers. Now let’s talk about “how” you can collect it. And here, the methods may vary depending on your sector – B2B or B2C.
When it comes to collecting data, it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Whether you’re in B2B or B2C, you’ll need to adjust your strategy to best connect with decision-makers and close valuable contracts. B2B requires a personalized touch, as you’ll need to convince multiple parties that your product is worth investing in. But the payoff could be huge – a single million-dollar agreement.
On the other hand, in B2C transactions, you’re dealing with a mass market and one decision-maker. Personalization is difficult, so automation and big data trends analysis are key. By adjusting your data collection strategy to fit the unique needs of your business, you’ll reach more customers and see more success.
Let us learn the most common ways of collecting feedback from businesses that are existing or potential buyers of your product.
In-person or phone interviews with your customers can provide more detailed feedback than surveys. Interviews allow you to ask follow-up questions and better understand your customers’ experiences. Interviews can be time-consuming and require more resources than surveys, but they can provide valuable insights into your customer’s needs and preferences.
Harvard Business School recommends the following open-ended questions to be discussed during an interview. If your respondents are not limited to just choosing “yes” or “no” you can get much more information about their experience and their logic. Moreover, you may ask follow-up questions to specify the points that are important to you. So here is the list you may use:
- Can you recall the initial instance when you considered purchasing the product?
- What particular issue were you attempting to address when you acquired the product?
- How did you become aware of the product/solution?
- What alternatives did you evaluate before making your choice?
- What factors influenced your decision to opt for this product instead of the other options?
- What product or solution did you use earlier, and why did you decide not to repurchase it?
- Who played a role in the decision-making process to purchase this product?
Online reviews are an excellent source of customer feedback. Sites like Yelp, Google Reviews, and TripAdvisor allow customers to leave reviews of businesses.
If we talk specifically about software, then it’s better to work with these resources:
- G2 Crowd
How can they help? By analyzing user feedback, startup owners can understand which features are popular, how customers are using the product, and the way they describe their issues or needed solutions. This is an endless source of information for improving the product’s positioning and future development of additional features. So go ahead and check this endless source of information.
To create the perfect user experience for your product, incorporate usability testing into your development process. By closely observing how customers interact with it, you can uncover any obstacles preventing them from enjoying a seamless and intuitive journey – furnishing insight on where to fine-tune elements such as website copy or app design. Iterate based on this valuable feedback to craft an extraordinary UX!
When talking about a web app or website, companies usually try to find the answers to the following questions during their usability tests:
- What attracts visitors to my website?
- What are their goals?
- What are the obstacles on the user’s way to completing an action on your website?
- What can persuade people to take action?
- How much value does your site bring to users?
Then you can choose the preferred method of usability testing. Each of them is different from the costs and outcomes standpoint:
Moderated or unmoderated
Those tests can be either conducted under direct supervision or without a moderator. They can also be taken either in a lab or remotely. The research in a lab is much more expensive and allows examining a limited number of users. But at the same time, it will provide more insights based on their questions and body language. Remote testing can cover more areas and more people but provide fewer insights from each person.
Explorative, assessment, or comparative
Explorative method looks like brainstorming with opinions and impressions. The purpose of assessment research is to gauge a user’s contentment with a product and their proficiency in utilizing it to evaluate the product’s overall effectiveness.
Comparative research techniques entail soliciting users to indicate their preferred option between two solutions, and are employed to measure how a website stacks up against its main competitors.
If you have many customers, it’s getting harder to communicate in person, and here is where automation comes in.
Social Media Monitoring
Social media has become an essential tool for businesses to interact with their customers. They are not just an excellent sales and marketing tool, but also a powerful source of reputational threats. Customers can have their communities with a certain number of followers. But opinion leaders are much more dangerous. If one of them tries your product or talks to your rude manager, he will share this with his audience, and your reputation will be buried under tons of negative comments, dislikes, and shares.
If you are a startup, you will probably not have enough resources to struggle with it. That is why we strongly recommend keeping an eye on what is happening and reacting to an emerging crisis on time. Monitoring popular networks allows you to track what your customers say about your products, services, and brand online. This can provide valuable insights into customer sentiment and identify areas for improvement.
Here are just some social listening tools you can use:
- Brand 24
- Sprout Social
And again, by replying to comments on social media and providing timely support, you will get additional points in your customers’ eyes.
Feedback forms can be used in-store or online to gather customer feedback. These forms can be customized to collect specific information about your products, services, or customer experience.
For example, ask those with a free trial to rate your product features. If you are testing a doctor appointment app, you can include questions about availability checks, payment options and processing, changing or canceling your visit/online consultation.
Feedback forms can be quick and easy for customers to complete, and they can provide valuable data that can help you better understand your strong and weak points.
Surveys are one of the most common methods of collecting customer feedback. They can be conducted online, in person, or over the phone. These studies can be customized to gather specific information about your products, services, or customer experience. Surveys help to collect demographic information about your customers, which can help you target your marketing efforts more effectively. In this way, you may constantly enhance your buyer personas’ portraits, adding more and more specific traits and considering them for your upcoming product or service updates or even launching new ones.
How to Analyze and Utilize Customer Feedback
OK, now, when you have a lot of data, it’s time to discuss what actions you have to take to benefit from the results of your monitoring, surveys, and tests.
Organize and Categorize Feedback
Once you have collected customer feedback, it’s essential to organize and categorize it. This will allow you to identify common themes and patterns in the feedback. The first step is to collate all the open-ended feedback and relevant metadata into a spreadsheet. This metadata should include details such as the customer’s duration with the company, their expenditure, the date of feedback, and its source.
To categorize the feedback, you can group it by feedback type, theme, or code. Feedback types may include new feature requests, usability issues, generic positive or negative feedback, user education issues, pricing/billing issues, junk feedback, or other types of feedback that do not fit into any of these categories.
Feedback themes can be useful when dealing with a high volume of diverse feedback. The themes will be unique to the feedback received and may relate to aspects of the product. Feedback codes are distilled, actionable feedback that concisely represents the customer’s raw feedback. Before starting to code feedback, it’s essential to get an overview of the data to identify how diverse the responses are. You can then start reading each piece of feedback and code it accordingly. It’s important to refine the codes by paying attention to exact language use, breaking down higher-level codes, and separating multiple points in different columns. Once you have coded everything, you can calculate the total amount of feedback per code to see the most common feedback and patterns.
For example, if you sell home or durable medical equipment (HME/DME) software, you can see that most of your customers need to improve the inventory management feature, as it is not scalable enough for adding more locations and getting real-time data about current inventory status.
Once you have identified areas for improvement, it’s essential to take action. This could mean making changes to your products, services, or marketing strategies. By addressing issues and implementing improvements based on customer feedback, your chances of retaining existing clients and attracting new ones get higher.
Case Study: Have a Safe Flight
An airline was working with customers’ feedback to improve its communication and service quality. One of the issues was the fear of flying, even though the aircraft was new and was regularly maintained and inspected. The surveys helped to figure out that the main reason was the interior’s condition. Worn chairs were associated with an old, dangerous plane that was scary to board. After improving the cabin’s interior, the airline saw a significant reduction in fear of flying among its passengers and an increase in promoters.
Improve Your Sales Funnel Through Customer Feedback Analysis
You can collect feedback from your clients at various stages of your sales funnel and improve each of them. And, of course, each business faces such a thing as customer churn. Getting information at this phase is essential for future client retention and improving your product.
But where should you collect the data? A little bit of email marketing for startups. Customer feedback from people who cancel their plans or unsubscribe from your emails can be invaluable. The main point is you should know the reason why. Try to get as much as you can from your unsubscribe form.
If people say that your newsletters are not relevant to them, then you should dive deeper and understand what the main reason for that is:
- Wrong targeting
- Email frequency
Here are some examples of collecting feedback from unsubscribe forms:
A company regrets the client going away, but at the same time, it asks specific questions about the reasons for leaving. But here is a very sensitive moment: do not make people do much work while unsubscribing. Do not provide too many options or ask for multiple choice. Your subscriber is already leaving, do not drive him mad! Just take a look at the example below, and don’t do that.
Also, take care that your unsubscribe form works both for the web and mobile. Otherwise, your visitor trying to get rid of your newsletters on his cellphone will be furious and join the haters you want to exclude from your NPS score.
After getting feedback from unsubscribe forms, it’s time to take action. What you can do in this case is have a closer look at your segmentation (for the first case). If we discuss the second and third points here, you can offer your clients more flexible subscription opportunities. They may choose the frequency (for instance, once a week). Also, you can suggest they check the fields with topics that are interesting for them. In this way, your chances of better understanding the people you are talking to and retaining them will increase.
Communicate Changes to Customers
Once you have made improvements, you should not keep silent. It’s essential to communicate any changes you make to your customers. This could be done through email newsletters, social media posts, press releases, or in-store signage. Letting your customers know that you are listening to their feedback and making changes based on that feedback will demonstrate your customer-centric approach and prove that you are aimed at resolving your customers’ issues and allowing them to focus on their strategic tasks.
A good example here is the launching of a new policy by Instagram that restricts direct messages to teens from unknown adults. The policy is based on parents’ concerns who want to make their children’s online activity safer.
Another good example is the post by Slack telling about a bug that has been fixed.
This small message has a much more significant meaning for the brand than it seems. It demonstrates that the company doesn’t ignore the issues its customers face and makes an effort to resolve them as soon as possible.
In conclusion, customer feedback is an essential component of startup marketing. By collecting feedback, you can identify areas for improvement, enhance product development, increase customer loyalty, and build a better brand reputation. All of that requires your time and effort, but you remember what the value of reputation is, right? So you can do all of that internally or hire a startup marketing agency with relevant expertise and a qualified team to take care of what your customers say about you and your product.