GuidesCustomer researchCustomer feedback: Everything you need to know

Customer feedback: Everything you need to know

Last updated

15 February 2023

Author

Chloe Garnham

Feedback is critical at every stage of a business –– it’s an essential part of delighting customers. Whether through UX, optimization, customer support, or delivery of products, ensuring your customers are happy is key to a solid business.  

As the saying goes: ‘The customer is always right.’ If you don’t regularly gain user feedback, you could unknowingly have issues across the business. 

Knowing where to begin with customer feedback can be challenging. How do you collate customer feedback in beneficial ways that allow customers to be heard? 

We’ve created this helpful guide to make the process simpler. Let’s look at the best types, practices, and strategies for gaining actionable customer feedback. 

What is customer feedback?

Customer feedback involves opinions, data, and insights from those who use your products or services.

You can gain that feedback through a range of different techniques, including: 

  • Surveys

  • Feedback scores

  • Reviews

  • Retention metrics 

Customer feedback helps you understand whether customers find your products and services satisfying and easy to use and if they’d recommend your business to a friend. 

In essence, customer feedback is what your customers think about what you provide them. 

What are the benefits of customer feedback?

Customer feedback isn’t just important: It’s essential. It tells the business what patrons think about your products or services. 

It indicates whether your customers are likely to keep using your business and whether they’ll positively review and recommend you. 

The process of garnering feedback can serve as a guide to doing better –– creating new aims for the brand to please those who pay for your services. 

By engaging with your customers and gaining insights, you can improve your offering to retain current customers and attract new ones. 

It’s also important to remember that negative feedback can be just as important as positive feedback, if not more so. That’s because negative feelings towards a brand can lead a customer to look elsewhere. Negative feedback is also a pivotal opportunity to make improvements. 

In the words of Bill Gates: 

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” 

Learn more about customer feedback platforms

What type of customer feedback is best?

The best customer feedback type for your business depends on:

  • Your business goals

  • The aspect of the business you’re getting feedback on

  • Any current known issues or problems

  • The budget for making changes  

In many cases, there may be a specific aspect of the customer process that you’re looking to improve. This might include onboarding, retention, customer flows, UX, or payment systems. If this is the case, it’s important to collect feedback relevant to that aspect of the process. 

If the business is more interested in discovering overall customer satisfaction or brand loyalty, benchmark scores will be more useful. 

Some questions that can be helpful to ask before deciding on a method include: 

  • What would we most like to know about our customers? 

  • What are our missing pieces of knowledge? 

  • Where are the roadblocks in the customer journey? 

  • Where are we most often losing customers? 

  • Where would we most like to improve our business? 

  • What type of data would be most beneficial to us? 

  • Once we collate the data, how will it serve us? 

  • Can we invest in improving the area we’re gaining feedback about? 

Quantitative vs. qualitative data

When deciding which type of data to collate, it’s helpful to consider whether quantitative or qualitative data will be most valuable. 

Quantitative data is numerical values you gain indirectly from users –– things that involve how many, how much, and how many times. Quantitative methods are typically objective measurements and statistical, mathematical, or numerical analyses. You can get this type of data by tracking performance metrics, collecting surveys, or manipulating preexisting statistical data sets. 

On the other hand, qualitative data comes directly from users, typically through focus groups, usability testing, and field studies. Qualitative data helps teams discover why users do things and how to fix issues. 

What are the best customer feedback examples?

Once you decide on a direction, consider which customer feedback techniques will best serve your needs. Some of the most helpful customer feedback examples include the following: 

Customer interviews

Want to know what your customers are thinking about your brand and competitors? One surefire way of getting into their heads is to interview them. 

By asking open-ended questions, you’ll discover how your customers truly feel. While you won’t gather quantitative data in this technique, you will gain new insights into how your customers think and perceive your products or services.

Customer interviews allow you to receive off-the-cuff responses that may not present themselves otherwise.

For best practice, consider the following when conducting customer interviews:

Provide a safe space

Giving customers space to share how they really feel will ensure you gain real insights, not cagey responses. Negative feedback can be just as valuable as positive feedback. 

Ask further questions

Really pay attention to what your interviewees are saying, and don’t try to assume what they mean by something. Follow up with additional questions if you need clarification. 

Use open-ended questions

Asking questions without predetermined answers is more likely to produce a variety of responses, some of which you may not have considered. This will add color to your final data. 

Customer loyalty metrics

Customer loyalty is critical in business. Interestingly, even the smallest amount of customer loyalty can make huge differences over time. 

Studies have shown that just a 5% increase in customer retention can lead to a 25% increase in profit.

Clearly, customer loyalty and retention can be the difference between a business succeeding or not. 

How do you determine customer loyalty? The most common ways are through established scoring systems which include the following:

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

The Customer Satisfaction Score is a key method of measuring customer loyalty. The survey asks customers how satisfied they are with a particular area of the business.

An example could be: 

“How satisfied are you with [company’s] payment process?”

You calculate the data by adding the number of satisfied customers (those who rated you highly), dividing by the total number of responses, and multiplying by 100 to gain the percentage of satisfied customers. 

The CSAT is a very specific score. It focuses on one particular experience and how customers feel about the process. It’s very helpful to quickly identify whether a process is working well for users, but it doesn’t necessarily give a picture of overall satisfaction. 

Net Promoter Score (NPS®)

The Net Promoter Score is another common method of calculating customer loyalty. It’s a more useful way of discovering customer satisfaction across the business, not just in one area. 

The NPS asks participants to rank the likelihood that they would recommend your product or service to someone they know (a friend or colleague). The ranking is from 0–10, with 0 being the least likely and 10 being the most likely. 

Once you collect that data, you subtract the percentage of lowest scores –– those who chose 0–6 — from the percentage of higher scores of 9–10. The final score will fall between -100 and 100. Many online calculators can help you efficiently do this. 

Any final score above 0 is considered good, with anything over 20 being very good. The NPS can be a helpful benchmark to see how your business satisfaction is tracking overall. 

Customer Effort Score (CES)

CES is another benchmark that helps you measure the amount of perceived effort customers have to put in to get a result, whether that’s resolving an issue, fulfilling a task, or getting the information they need. 

You calculate this by asking your customers whether a particular interaction with your business was easy. 

An example could be:

“How easy did you find it to get the information you were looking for?” 

You calculate the CES by dividing the number of those that agree the interaction was easy (the highest scores) by the total number of responses. 

One benefit of the CES score is that it tells you whether there’s a lot of friction for customers when they complete tasks. This can help you to streamline processes to make them simpler and more satisfying for users. 

Usability tests

Usability testing helps businesses create user-centric products and services. The process ensures products are fit-for-purpose, simple to use, and better than alternative options. 

With usability testing, designers establish whether customers can easily perform intended tasks. It can also highlight issues and roadblocks and uncover improvement opportunities. 

The technique means that teams don’t base decisions on their assumptions. Instead, they gather evidence to prove how users behave, their needs, and whether they want a particular product or service. 

For best practice, usability tests: 

  • Include three main groups: A neutral moderator, a small group of customers, and representatives from the business. 

  • Have users perform a series of tests: This generates feedback for designers and developers to iterate their creations. 

  • Keep the moderator light-touch: Give participants room to make mistakes to highlight areas of potential improvement. 

  • Create a final report: This ensures you collate feedback into effective insights that you can readily share across the business.

Usability testing templates

Customer reviews & comments

Regardless of whether they appear on Google, Facebook, TripAdvisor, or TrustPilot, reviews play a critical role in business. 

In fact, a series of bad reviews can break a business, while positive reviews can entice new customers. Some research shows that reviews either often or very often influence 66% of consumers before purchase. 

While customer reviews shouldn’t be your first source of customer feedback, they’re an integral way of checking whether you’re meeting customer expectations. It’s better to discover that customers are unhappy before they tell everyone else on an independent platform. That’s why it’s key to have feedback processes in place.

Comments on social media pages are another important place to gain feedback and present an opportunity for input. 

For best practice, address customer reviews and comments –– especially bad ones –– as soon as they happen. Even if you don’t have an immediate solution, it’s helpful to communicate to customers that you are trying to resolve any issues.

Reaching out to customers who have left negative feedback can avoid losing the customer. This can mean letting them know you’ve seen and heard their concerns and really want to help them. 

It’s also important to consider common comments and try to implement changes. For example, if many customers ask about a product feature you don’t have, it’s a positive sign that the feature would be helpful to your users. 

Real-time alerts

When a customer thinks badly about your business –– you want to know about it immediately. That way, you can react and quickly rectify the situation before you lose the customer and potentially others.

A real-time alert system can ping the business when it receives a negative response, so you don’t waste precious time.

When a customer completes an online survey and chooses a low score or someone leaves a bad customer review, the relevant team can receive a notification that highlights the issue. 

Having a real-time alert system means you can: 

  • Contact the customer for further information.

  • Make an offer to resolve the customer’s issue as quickly as possible.

  • Highlight the issue immediately.

  • Identify larger-scale issues that may be affecting many customers.

  • Gain the chance to ensure your customers are always happy.

Fast responses can be the difference between keeping or losing a customer. For every customer that complains, many others may be experiencing the same problems. A real-time alert system is one powerful way to speed up reactions to issues. 

The critical customer feedback loop

These strategies and techniques are even more powerful if you use them regularly. One trick with customer feedback is not just asking your customers for feedback once but continually asking them how they feel to understand their perspective. 

Knowing how your customers perceive you is vital as long as you're in business. It’s the best way to maintain quality and continually improve. 

A customer feedback loop can:

  • Quickly highlight issues within the business that need resolving 

  • Engage customers to ensure they feel heard and seen 

  • Boost customer loyalty and retention 

  • Reduce customer complaints and negative customer reviews 

  • Challenge how you think customers feel about your product or service

  • Keep your quality standards high

  • Continually improve the business to maintain competitivity in the market 

A best practice feedback loop works in four main stages:

1. Ask

First, ask customers what they think and how they feel about your company. Combining our customer feedback examples will help you understand your customers and their overall satisfaction. 

2. Collate

The next step is to collate the information you’ve gathered into valuable insights to readily share across the business. 

This stage can also be called ‘learning.’ Here, you deeply learn about your customers and what they want and need from your company. 

3. Act

Once you see where potential issues or areas of fiction are, it’s essential to act and make improvements. 

The faster you act when problems arise, the better. That way, you have less chance of customers moving on to your competitors or telling friends and colleagues about their negative experiences. 

4. Ask again

As soon as you resolve any issues, you must tell customers. This will encourage them to see, experience, and interact with those changes. Otherwise, they may still think that the original issues exist. 

To complete the loop, ask customers how they feel about your improvements. Keeping them a part of the conversation makes them feel seen and heard. It’s also beneficial for your business to keep gaining that essential feedback. 

The process is cyclic –– continually moving through the stages to keep customers at the forefront of business decisions. 

Categorizing customer feedback

Given the broad range of ways to gain customer feedback across the business, it’s useful to categorize the insights you gather. This makes feedback much more manageable to act on. It’ll also give clarity around the business area it relates to.

While the areas will differ between companies, there are three main categories to break content into: 

1. Product feedback

This type of feedback relates to the overall product or service your company produces, whether digital or physical. This includes feedback on product features, bugs and defects, and usability.

2. Marketing and sales feedback

Marketing feedback is broadly related to how people feel about your brand and whether they’re loyal to it.

As part of this, sales feedback identifies whether customers feel satisfied throughout the sales and onboarding processes. This includes things like whether or not an account manager has followed up with a customer and if the customer feels supported or valued.

3. Customer service feedback

When a customer raises a question or concern, the customer service team is the first to receive that query. Feedback includes whether customers feel the team resolves their issues quickly, whether they can receive answers efficiently, and how supported they feel through the process. 

Businesses often have multiple customer service channels –– phone lines, chatbots, live chat, and support blogs. Gaining feedback on all channels is crucial to ensure you’re helping customers when and where they need it. 

The most useful customer feedback insights

While it’s essential to gather feedback from a range of sources, it’s also highly beneficial to collate the data into relevant, readable, and actionable insights. 

That way, you can synthesize the data into a series of numbers the business can act upon. Some high-level best practices are: 

Employ research teams

Having in-house or external research teams who can analyze the collected data and communicate it to the rest of the team is essential.

Make your data clear

Recognize that people have different learning styles. For example, a long spreadsheet may be tricky for many across the business to read and understand. A bar or pie graph can be much faster to digest if appropriate. 

Consider ways to simplify and communicate critical information effectively, use color to highlight important sections, and take out data that isn’t valuable. 

Act on the results

Making important discoveries through customer feedback is only beneficial if you act upon the information. The sooner you resolve issues, problems, and roadblocks, the better. It’s also important to communicate to customers as soon as you make improvements to encourage them to keep using your product or service. 

Use customer feedback loops

Continue asking customers for feedback through various methods to streamline every area of your business and keep quality standards high. 

Address negativity quickly

Negative customer comments help you quickly become aware of issues or problems. Solving those problems fast shows customers that you care. 

Improving your customer feedback strategy

It’s no secret that customers are integral to every aspect of your business. Ultimately, you are designing for people. Delighting those people will keep them loyal to your brand and improve your chances of gaining positive reviews. 

Customer feedback helps your business continually improve and provide better customer experiences. After all, there’s no profit without them.

Learn more about customer feedback platforms

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