For most companies, customers play a huge role in determining strategy for products and services, and one of the best ways to understand your customers is through customer feedback. Customer feedback tools can help you get there, each one serving a slightly different purpose, and offering unique advantages and challenges.

Feedback is imperative. Let’s talk about the benefits of quality customer feedback, the tools for customer feedback, and how to vet customer feedback collection methods.

What is customer feedback?

The best place to start is by defining customer feedback. Customer feedback includes both qualitative and quantitative data collected from your user base. Qualitative data focuses more on words, descriptions, and ideas that can’t necessarily be measured, while quantitative data can be measured and is recorded using numbers.

While quantitative data is immensely valuable for noting things like success rate for a product in use, or overall percentage of satisfaction, qualitative data adds a layer of richness to customer feedback that helps us understand their unique experiences. Both types of data are useful, so keep that in mind when deciding which methods of feedback collection are right for you.

Benefits of customer feedback

1. Customer feedback drives future improvements

Whether you’re releasing an app, a campaign, or a product, you shouldn’t have to guess whether or not your ideal customer responds positively. This is why customer feedback methods can be powerful — they give us insight into the impression our products and services make on target audiences, allowing us to make better informed decisions about how to improve to meet customers’ needs before launch.

Even if feedback is collected post-launch, it still drives improvements. For example, with an app, there are infinite opportunities for patches and updates; and for products, the possibility for an improved version depends on what your user base shares with you in feedback.

2. Feedback builds rapport with customers

In a way, customers should function as partners since companies create products and services for them. When you’re willing to collect their feedback and implement positive and sustainable changes into products and services, it shows users that they’re being heard and that their opinions are valuable. At the end of the day, customers love products and brands who know them, and incorporating their feedback collected through customer feedback tools helps build that connection.

3. Customer feedback encourages data-driven decision making

A continuous improvement model for a product or service is great in theory, but it does no good to make sweeping changes without data to explain when someone asks, “Why?” When accurate customer feedback is collected and observed, in part with analytics, companies can make smart, data-driven decisions around their products and services that lead to more long term sales and satisfaction.

Ask these questions before collecting customer feedback

Before you start collecting feedback, remember to ask yourself a few questions:

  1. How much information are you looking for?
  2. Where do your target demographics spend time?
  3. Are you willing to make changes based on the feedback you receive?

Once you answer all of the above, you’ll be able to determine the best tools for the job, avoid costly mistakes, and put your feedback to work.

5 of the best customer feedback tools

Here are a few of our favorite customer feedback tools for you to try:

1. Social media

One of the easiest ways to collect customer feedback is to leverage your company’s social media channels. Facebook and Instagram have captions, polls, and other tools that allow users to understand their followers’ likes and dislikes. If you have a particularly large following on social media, this is a way to potentially gather a lot of data quickly.

The downside of using social media to collect client feedback is that you’re most likely only going to get responses from your most active followers since they already engage with your content frequently. This method is inherently bias because you’ll miss those who use your product, but don’t use social media, as well as those who aren’t interested in responding.

2. Surveys

Surveys are another great tool for collecting information from a large portion of your customer base, and they work in both digital or analogue formats. With online surveys, customer lists can come from those who already purchased online, an email marketing list, or by purchasing a contact list based around a target demographic. Additionally, if your customers don’t spend as much time online, you could reach out to them via mail. 

When using surveys, keep in mind how you phrase questions to try to avoid bias, and the length of the survey to respect your customers’ time. Also, remember that your results are affected by who can access the survey.

3. Usability tests

Usability tests can be administered remotely for apps and websites and in-person for physical products and prototypes. Usability tests work best when they’re planned around particular scenarios. For example, with a website, you could ask participants to go through the process of buying a product in a trial state before it goes live. With a prototype, you could explain the purpose of the product to a group of users and watch as they demo it to identify improvements before launch.

Usability tests allow a more personal look into how customers use and interact with your products and services. They allow you to validate the ideas you came up with in the development stage and make decisions around how best to move forward.

4. Focus groups and interviews

Focus groups and interviews involve working with less customers, but focus on gathering detailed, qualitative feedback. When you have people in a focus group, you’re able to ask questions that build on each other in detail to get to the root of the assessment  (vs. questions in a survey that need to be broad to cover more points of feedback). A key part of a focus group that’s full of feedback is to make sure you invest in a high-quality group facilitator to avoid common issues like group think, or a session getting derailed.

1:1 interviews are amazing for feedback because you get the customer’s direct insights that haven’t been influenced by a group dynamic. 1:1 interviews are designed to avoid wasting time addressing group  dynamics because there’s no group. Keep in mind that one-to-one interviews are usually more costly and take more time to complete.

5. Ethnographic observation

Ethnography, or ethnographic research, involves immersing yourself within the environment of those you wish to study. In order for a company to conduct ethnographic observations of their target customers, they would have to observe them using the product or service in question in their everyday lives to get insight for how they perceive and interact with it.

Since this can be a big ask of participants, it helps to provide incentive — like payment for their time. Among other feedback collection tools, this tends to be the most demanding option in terms of time, budget, and resources.

Change is the name of the game when it comes to feedback

The biggest question you should ask yourself before collecting feedback is this: Are you ready and willing to change? You will almost always receive a mix of encouragement and criticism in client feedback, and your decision to be open and willing to change products and services for the better will be what sets you apart, earning you a dedicated customer base.

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