How to leverage customer feedback to drive excellence across every department

In this guide:

Customer feedback has to be a part of every decision your company makes.

Too many businesses see customer survey responses as no more than a way to earn bragging rights. They aim for consistently high CSAT and NPS scores, but they don’t utilize the data beyond that.

Whatever your industry, niche, and the size of your company, there is so much more you can do with the feedback you receive.

Let’s break it down by department. Here is how feedback (analyzed and used to the full extent) can help you increase success in all your operations.

Improve the CX: how feedback can help with product development

🐴 “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”.

You’ve probably heard this quote before. It’s erroneously attributed to Henry Ford, and it comes up often in discussions of how much customer feedback should influence the development of new products and services.

There’s certainly a kernel of truth there. Customers don’t always know the full extent of what is possible. They tend to want what’s already there, but better and more convenient. For innovation, you cannot rely on feedback alone to guide you.

But you can and must use customer feedback to improve the customer experience (CX).

Per PwC’s research, 32% of customers worldwide would walk away from a beloved brand after just one bad experience. And you cannot determine what customers’ pain points will be in advance. You can only hope to learn from mistakes.

To make data-driven product improvements, you should:

  • 🔍 Analyze the feedback to identify recurring themes and prioritize areas for improvement. CES (customer effort score) surveys are especially useful here because they highlight points of frustration for the customer.
  • 🛠️ Look for suggestions or requests for specific feature enhancements or usability improvements. Use this feedback to optimize your existing features, making them more intuitive, efficient, or powerful.
  • 🧪 When considering product changes or new features, involve your customers in the process. Conduct beta testing or invite a select group of customers to provide feedback on proposed changes.

Once you have made changes based on customer feedback, communicate those improvements to your customers! Demonstrate your commitment to providing a superior product experience based on what they need.

Build a brand that lasts: how to use customer feedback to improve Marketing

To effectively turn customer feedback data into better marketing, you need to drill down on individual survey responses and lean into the specifics.

1. Refine targeting and messaging

Use feedback data to refine your target audience segments and tailor your messaging accordingly. Study the language, keywords, and preferences expressed by customers, and incorporate it into your marketing materials.

This is why open-ended questions (like text boxes at the end of a survey) are important: your customers can tell you in their own words how they feel. Using these insights in future statements/newsletters/social media posts: this helps build a community with your users.

There’s a great deal of noise in the world of marketing. You can avoid generic empty promises if you pay close attention to what your customers are telling you and you respond in kind.

2. Find promoters and case studies

Use positive customer feedback to identify promoters and create compelling case studies.

If you can showcase real-life examples of success, you’ll build trust and influence potential customers in their decision-making process.

You can automate a thank-you response for very positive feedback and ask for a review on Google Business or another platform. This is a great way for local businesses to stand out; here is a specific example from one of our customers.

Asking for reviews is a great first step toward working with promoters. If a customer is consistently pleased with your work, you can make it more personal and reach out to them directly.

Express your gratitude for their feedback and ask if they would be interested in becoming a brand advocate or participating in a case study. Explain the benefits they will receive, such as increased exposure or the opportunity to showcase their success story.

3. Encourage word-of-mouth referrals

According to research into global customer trust trends, 89% of consumers trust referrals from people they know, and this is the most trusted advertising channel possible.

When customers see that their feedback has led to tangible improvements, they are more likely to tell their friends about your company, both offline and on social media.

NPS responses are a great help in clarifying exactly which customers are recommending your company to others. By cross-tabulating NPS data with other customer data, you’ll gain a good idea of who you can count on to get the word out.

4. Track brand perception and customer feelings

You can continuously monitor and measure the impact of your marketing efforts by tracking relevant metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). But the numbers don’t tell the whole story.

Customer feedback – again, especially open-ended feedback – lets you understand exactly what people are feeling about your marketing efforts. If your brand is coming across as pushy, insincere, cold, etc., you likely cannot see that from the inside. Customer feedback can provide a much-needed reality check.

5. Use quotes and reviews for Reputation Management

We mentioned bragging rights, and to be clear: there is nothing wrong with letting the public know how well you’re doing!

Share impressive feedback scores on your website or social media. You can also use a feedback widget to share reviews on your site as they come in.

Make customer satisfaction stats a part of reporting when talking with investors, shareholders, or potential partners. If you’re doing considerably better than your direct competitors, mention that.

But more importantly, make sure to save especially impressive reviews and quote them when appropriate. Sometimes, customers put into words exactly why your company is important. Seeing authentic reviews can be more powerful than putting out perfectly polished ad copy.

Meet the customer where they are: optimize Customer Support and Customer Success processes

Customer support is the backbone of a well-functioning business, but it’s not enough to ensure lasting loyalty. Your teams need to focus on customer success in addition to support.

Customer support is reactive, it is a response to issues that come up throughout the customer journey. Customer success is proactive: it means reaching out to the customer even when nothing’s wrong, engaging with them, and making sure they are using your product/service as efficiently and frictionlessly as possible.

How do you make sure your Support/Success team is doing the best possible job?

👍 Establish checkpoints throughout the customer journey

From the moment of onboarding, you want to know what the customer is thinking and how you can make it easier for them to use your product. That means open, constant communication! Don’t wait for the customer to have a problem before you approach them for feedback.

🔁 Close the feedback loop

When a customer reaches out first, it’s important to acknowledge and appreciate the feedback immediately. Automated responses might be fine at this stage, but make sure the customer can reach a human agent quickly if they want to.

Always personalize your response to address specific concerns. Seek clarification or further input if needed.

Once changes are implemented, communicate the results. Then follow up with customers again, to check if their expectations are met and request additional feedback.

🌟 Don’t miss a chance to improve

Add CSAT surveys to every ticket interaction (even if there are multiple tickets a day). If you are worried about spamming the customer, you can piggyback off of other messages you’re sending out (automatically embed surveys into emails or signatures).

Make sure the questions in the survey are clear. You want to know:

  • if the problem got solved
  • and, separately, if the support agent did all they could to help.

There can be technical limitations to solving problems immediately, but customers may still leave a high rating if the agent went above and beyond.

🎤 Ask broader questions about your Customer Support team

When sending out more general surveys, ask whether the customer is satisfied with the support they received throughout the years.

For example, you can send out a yearly or quarterly NPS survey asking if your customer would recommend your company to a friend, and in the followup, ask if the quality of the support they received impacted their rating.

📃 Keep documentation on each customer’s feedback

When responding to a customer’s dissatisfaction, it is important to take a holistic view of their journey. A customer who has been with your brand for years has way more context than someone who’s been recently onboarded. Similarly, support agents need to know what questions and potential solutions have been covered before.

You want all your customer satisfaction data to be easy to access quickly. With Simplesat, agents use tagging and categorization to ensure clarity, and you can look up any customer’s full feedback history.

The one thing you must avoid is asking the same questions over and over when a customer is already disappointed. This just makes the customer feel like they’re just being placated or shuffled from agent to agent.

🌤 Find opportunities in dissatisfaction

Negative feedback is a gift. It lets you course-correct, address pain points, and make sure you’re giving your customers exactly what they want.

Once you make significant improvements based on customer feedback, communicate these changes to your customers. Reach out directly when necessary, and be open and specific in your update announcements.

Let them know that your company isn’t perfect but you’re learning. It’s a great way to build lasting relationships – and it might inspire higher feedback rates too.

Make the most of existing customers: how customer feedback helps with Sales

Customer feedback plays a significant role in improving sales strategies.

1. Improve conversion rates

Customer feedback provides valuable insights into the perceived value of products or services. By understanding what customers find most valuable, you can more effectively communicate what your product/service helps with. Feedback lets you pin down unique selling points your Sales team can use.

2. Retain existing customers

According to Bain & Company, a 5% increase in retention increases your company revenue by 25-95%. Through constant monitoring of feedback, you can identify churn risks and reach out to unhappy customers before they decide to leave. This improves retention and builds more lasting relationships.

3. Uncover upselling/cross-selling opportunities

Customer feedback can help you identify opportunities for upselling or cross-selling, in order to maximize revenue from existing customers.

By understanding customers’ preferences, needs, and buying patterns, your team can identify additional products or services that complement your existing offerings.

4. Refine sales strategies

Customer feedback can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of sales and marketing strategies. Analyze feedback related to sales interactions, pricing, messaging, or promotional campaigns! By listening to existing customers, you can improve your approach to engaging and converting leads.

Bring it all together: how Management uses customer feedback to build a culture of continuous improvement

How do you instill a customer-centric mindset among employees at all levels of the organization?

👂 Encourage Feedback Collection:

Emphasize that feedback is welcomed, valued, and essential for the organization’s growth.

💕 Explain Why Feedback Matters:

Clearly communicate to employees the purpose and impact of customer feedback. Help them understand how feedback contributes to better decision-making, product development, and customer satisfaction. Point out that it also contributes to their own career growth! Customer feedback often helps employees looking to improve their skills and level up in their field.

😎 Make It Easy:

Your employees need quality tools, resources, and skills to make data-driven decisions. The feedback data management tools you use should be as straightforward as possible, and ideally, they should integrate seamlessly with the tools your employees are already familiar with.

🎊 Recognize and Celebrate Wins!

You want to foster a sense of pride in delivering customer-centric solutions. At Simplesat, we automatically share all feedback on Slack. Especially glowing reviews are celebrated immediately.

📈 Set Goals and KPIs:

Define specific goals and KPIs related to customer feedback and continuous improvement. These goals can include metrics like customer satisfaction scores, customer retention rates, or the number of feedback-driven improvements implemented. Regularly track progress, share results with the team, and provide feedback on the outcomes achieved.

🌱 Foster a Learning Culture:

Create a workplace culture where mistakes and failures are viewed as opportunities for improvement. Encourage employees to share lessons learned from customer feedback and provide a platform for sharing best practices. While negative feedback needs to be taken seriously, don’t use it as a springboard to shame anyone.

Resist information silos!

Customer feedback should not be siloed within a single department. Open discussions and provide ongoing training, so each department head has a clear understanding of how customer sentiment fits into the operations of the company.

Free sharing of customer data between departments is a foundation for better, more realistic decisions. Make sure the customer data is easy to use: create frequent summaries and use visualizations to track progress.

The more knowledge each employee has, the more the company will prosper. And customer feedback provides some emotional motivation as well.

✨ Whatever their daily tasks, your employees need to step back on occasion and see why they do what they do! Sharing positive customer feedback with the whole team creates a spark of motivation that drives the whole team.

Customer surveys don't have to be boring

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