This is a guest post from Mercer Smith-Looper. Mercer is the Head of Support at Appcues, a writer for Supported Content, a yoga fanatic, and strives to make the world a little bit happier one customer at a time.
There will always be people in this world that want something from you. Whether you are a business, an individual, or a group, people are needy.
Most company inboxes have a significant number of feature requests. Some of them make a lot of sense and some of them are probably pretty out there.
But whether customers are asking for something that you already have on your roadmap, or something that isn’t even tangentially related to your product, you still owe it to your customers to respond.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- Why is a customer feedback system important?
- How to improve customer feedback with BPM?
- What does a sustainable customer feedback process look like?
- How to use Process Street to streamline your customer feedback process
Why is a customer feedback system important?
Microsoft found that 52% of people around the globe believe that companies need to take action on feedback provided by their customers. This means that in the event that you ignore all of those feature requests, you’re burning bridges with 52% of your customers.
Beyond that, though, Dave Chapman of Buffer said it best: “our customer knows what will help them best, and a feature request helps us stay in tune with what people want, need and expect from [us].”
Your customers, as customer experts, are doing you a favor by reaching out and telling you what they want and need. When you ignore them, you discourage them from reaching out and providing thoughts in the future.
You also lose out on the opportunity to gain new customers. For better or worse, 89% of consumers read businesses’ responses to reviews. Responding to customers’ insights also helps you make your brand look good in the eyes of new customers. In the event that you’ve responded to your customer insights, whether they be positive or constructive, you show yourself to be a company that cares about the customer experience.
How to improve your customer feedback system with BPM
BPM is important for customer feedback because it helps you to put a system in place for receiving and processing feedback across all departments, using that feedback to improve upon existing processes in your business.
Here’s a Process Street template you could use to process your customer feedback:
What does a sustainable customer feedback process look like?
There are a few steps to developing a sustainable system for responding to customer feedback:
- Collect feedback from as many places as possible: phone calls, feature request boards, and emails
- Track the feedback in one place to be better able to assess trends
- Understand your goal in listening to feedback. What are you trying to accomplish and learn?
- Automate your responses as much as possible
Let’s dig into each of those steps so you can build your own process that works for you and your customers.
So, you know why it’s important to collect feedback, but what are some of the best ways to do it? There are tons of places where customer insights can come from, even if you haven’t asked for them.
There are heaps of surveys that companies regularly use to prompt customers for their feedback. Here are a few:
- Customer satisfaction
- Net promoter score
- Customer effort score
- Short in-app surveys
- Long-form product release surveys
Before deciding to send a survey to your customer base, review the demographics of your target market. Is there a specific channel that they prefer for communication? Are most of your customer touchpoints on social media, for example?
Once you have a deeper understanding of where people are going to be most responsive, you can start to craft your survey.
Try to keep it short and sweet. You’re just asking for their opinion on one specific thing, don’t ask them about everything under the sun. The fewer questions you ask, the more likely you are to get a higher response rate.
There are some people that prefer phone calls when trying to reach a company. It may even be that they are more willing to answer your questions over the phone.
When you’ve answered a phone call for someone that is having trouble with your product, you already have the power of reciprocity working in your favor. If you’ve offered a service or done a favor for someone else, they’re much more inclined to return a favor for you.
So, you’re primed to ask for customer feedback.
Take the time during your phone call to personally ask if they would be comfortable spending a few minutes offering insights on your product. If they’ve already reached out to you asking about a certain part of the product, you have the perfect start to your conversation.
“It sounds like you’re using this [insert part of the product here] do you mind letting me know what you’re thinking of it so far?”
Using this tactic you’re much more likely to get candid, useful insights.
Most companies sent out a few different transactional emails:
- Subscription confirmations
- Receipts or invoices
- Bills or billing statements
- Account changes
- Password updates
All of these are opportunities to ask for customer feedback. At the bottom of the email, include a sentence that links to a survey or other method for individuals to share their insights. Here’s a great example from Viking:
Be sure to be clear about what you’re looking to hear more about, though. If you aren’t specific in your request, your users may think that you’re asking for feedback on the particular email that you just sent them. The example above is a great one because it’s clear that Viking wants to hear about what their users thought about the delivery.
Some companies publicly aggregate their feature requests and allow people to vote up their favorites. This can be great because it takes feature request processing out of your hands.
On the flipside, your customers might think that because something is highly voted for, your company is guaranteed to build it.
If you do choose to use suggestion boards or public feature request processes, set clear expectations for your customers. Let them know how you’ll be using the boards, how much you take votes into consideration and whether you’ll be publicly communicating your roadmap as you decide on it.
With public feature requests, it is of utmost importance to be transparent.
Once you’ve identified all of the areas where you are receiving feedback, the next step is to figure out a place to track it. Find a tool that allows you to visualize all of your feedback in one place.
The people at Groove, for example, use Trello.
For every new feature request that comes in, they create a new card in a Trello list. For every additional request that comes through, they add a comment to the card with a link to where the feedback was received. This keeps a tally of all of the times a request is asked for, and allows them to find every request so they can follow up when/if the feature gets built.
You can see a good example of a board like this from Trello’s Inspiration page:
Trello might not be the tool that you decide to use, but once you do find a software that you like, make sure that everyone has access to it.
Unsurprisingly, 86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures. Much of that comes from tools being inaccessible or different teams having access to different information.
Your customer feedback and feature requests are valuable and important for all teams. Make sure that everyone is able to see them—whether they know right now how valuable they are or not.
Understand what you are trying to learn
Without an understanding of what you are trying to learn from customer feedback, it may be difficult to figure out the best way to respond sustainably.
For example, if you are trying to build a roadmap your methodology may be different than if you were trying to gauge customer sentiment around a new feature. One of those requires a bit more digging and deeper conversation with the customer than the other.
Figuring out what you want to get to is one of the most important steps for mapping out a sustainable customer feedback process.
Here are a few of the things your team might be trying to get at:
Gaining product insights
One of the best ways your product team can figure out how they are doing is by asking your customers. Similarly, product insights are a great way to build a solid roadmap and figure out where your company is going to go in the future.
In the event that this is what your company is going after, it’s best to put your feature request process somewhere accessible and popular with your customers. That way, you’ll get the most responses.
Positive product reviews influence 90% of customers. That means that your marketing team is probably chomping at the bit to get their hands on some for more publicity. Outside of showing your reviews in app stores, or on your website as social proof, a deeper dive into a positive review can be great fodder for a blog post or best practices webinar.
It also helps you better understand your target audience. When you read through the types of people that are responding to your inquiries and how they are responding, it helps you to create a more honed vision of your ideal demographic. For example, if teenagers are all responding with five stars, and people between the ages of 30 and 40 commonly rank you lowly, you’ve found a clue into who you should market your product and cater services to.
If you’re asking for feedback so that you can use it to better market to your customers or better understand your buy personas, it’s best to ask for feedback in places where you can readily follow back up for more information. Asking via email or over the phone will ensure that you get the best, most valid insights.
Add to your customer journey map
Customer journey maps are super-useful to customer-facing teams. They give everyone a lay-of-the-land when it comes to the customer experience, and helps teams tailor their responses and tactics. Here’s an example of what one looks like:
Reviewing your customer feedback allows you to add additional sentiment data to points on the customer journey map. That’s super valuable as you move forward and try to create the best experience possible.
All types of customer feedback are valuable if this is your main aim.
67% of customer churn could be avoided if the business resolved a customer’s issue during their first interaction. Customers may not reach out to you if they are having trouble with your product, and you might not get the chance to reach out to them and talk to them about the issue. A good flow of customer feedback helps you take insights from the people that do care enough to reach out, and use it to forecast where other people may be having trouble.
Similarly, when you respond to constructive feedback and resolve the issue, you help to win back some of the potential customers that you may have lost in the first place.
All forms of customer feedback are valuable for this goal.
Once you’ve figured out what you’re trying to accomplish, you can start to automate your form of response.
Automate your responses
The research by InMoment found that consumers “want brands to let them know how they plan to use their feedback, whether or not it was helpful, and what changes it inspired.” When people feel invested enough in a company to reach out and provide their thoughts and concerns, they want to be treated with a similar respect.
It’s because of that that it’s important to always respond to a feature request or offer for feedback. There are two key ways that you can automate responses to customer feedback
Saved replies and macros
Saved replies and macros save you the time of typing out something over and over again. In the case of feature requests and product insights this can be super helpful.
Write up two separate responses for each customer service channel that you receive feedback through:
- One that thanks them and lets them know that it may be something your team with work on
- One that lets them know that this is a feature your company has already decided won’t be on the roadmap
It might feel a bit harsh to send a customer a notice letting them know that what they are asking for isn’t possible now or feasible in the future, but it actually provides a better experience to the customer.
Instead of trying to fit their needs into your product, like one of Cinderella’s stepsisters jamming their foot into the glass slipper, you can empower them to find another option that better fits their needs.
Keep a few things in mind as you write your reply:
- Be courteous: you want them to know that you care about what they’re asking, whether you’ve heard it one million times or never before.
- Be honest: let them know if it’s unlikely that you’ll build this feature, and provide an alternative.
- Be grateful: they are giving you the opportunity to better your product or service. Treat it as such.
We always like to start by thanking them for emailing in, and end with asking them to send us additional insights if they’d like to.
Send notifications when you launch a new feature
Users feel grateful when you let them know you’ve built something that they asked for. Never underestimate the appreciation that they’ll feel, even if it’s been over a year since they asked.
Groove received a 68% response rate to their product update emails after they started targeting them specifically at the people who had asked for the feature that they were announcing.
This can be automated through the tool that you are using to aggregate your feature requests.
Create a spreadsheet for the features that you are likely to build, and then add the email or contact information of every person that has asked for it. Then, when you do build it, you can copy and paste and let them know!
Remember: iteration is key
Even after you’ve figured out all of these things, this process shouldn’t be set in stone. All of the best processes are mutable and change as the teams using them do. Keep your thumb on the pulse and if there are new technologies that could make anything easier for your team, don’t be afraid to shake things up and experiment.
As you move forward, keep your goals for collecting feedback as a north star. It may feel attractive to shift focus, especially if there is a shiny, flashy tool available, but if you start to veer away from what you were trying to accomplish in the first place, your process will suffer.
How to use Process Street to streamline your customer feedback process
Process Street can also be a great tool for capturing and processing data from other apps and streamlining your customer feedback analysis process.
Feel free to watch this intro webinar to get started with Process Street:
It only takes a few minutes to sign up for a free Process Street account and access all of its features, so why not try it out?
What does your process look like for responding to customer feedback? Let us know in the comments below!