At the core of every successful company is a strong understanding of its customer base. When companies recognize their customers’ wants and needs, they can make sound decisions on product and service offerings, which ultimately drive revenue.

Most businesses rely on customer feedback to understand their customers. They read Yelp reviews, monitor brand mentions on the web, and measure customer satisfaction.

But once they collect all that feedback, what do they do with it? There’s a big difference between monitoring and listening. If customers feel like they’re screaming into the void each time they share feedback, they’ll be less likely to speak up in the future.

Companies have to prove that customer feedback breeds real results. In this post, we’ll discuss how customer surveys differ from other feedback channels—and how companies can use the feedback they collect to create positive change.

Everyone has an opinion—but not everyone voices it.

Good or bad, every customer has an opinion about your products and services. They judge every experience, from a store’s layout to a customer service agent’s tone of voice. These experiences affect their brand perception, which they share online and offline with friends and coworkers, many of whom might be potential customers.

And while every customer has an opinion, not everyone voices it to the company. Many businesses wrongly assume that silence is a sign of satisfaction, and they’re left wondering why their customer churn rate is so high. But research shows that for every one customer that complains, another 26 remain silent—and take their business elsewhere.

While unhappy customers may not not share their frustration with the company, they’re almost guaranteed to tell other people. In 11 Ways Bad Customer Service Is Burning Your Bottom Line, JitBit shares some alarming stats: 95% of customers who have bad experiences will share their story with others, and 48% will tell 10 or more people. Negative experiences aren’t just between the company and the customer—they spread like wildfire to friends, family, and other potential customers.

That’s why proactively seeking feedback and giving customers convenient channels to voice their issues can make such a difference.

It’s easier than ever to share feedback publicly.

In the age of the connected customer, it’s easy to share feedback publicly. Customers can post their opinions of brands on review boards, Facebook pages, and forums with little to no moderation. And they do it. Research shows that 45% of customers turn to social media to share negative reviews.

Leaving a quick message on social media is easy, and it offers some level of anonymity. There’s no face-to-face interaction. A customer can berate your business or sing its praises without speaking to a manager or submitting a formal complaint.

As a result, companies need to keep up with social feeds and review sites constantly to maintain their online reputation. Every comment, good or bad, deserves a response.

And while social media plays an important role in business today, company social feeds don’t offer a complete picture of customer sentiment. The same is true for online review sites, like Yelp and G2Crowd.

It’s great that customers can voice their opinions publicly and help inform prospective buyers, but reviews often do little to help the company improve. A 2-star rating and a generic message don’t provide measurable or actionable feedback.

That’s why asking for feedback is crucial. Paired with insights from online reviews, customer surveys can deliver a 360-degree view of your customer base.

Customer surveys make feedback actionable.

Customer experience surveys give you the flexibility to personalize questions and dig deeper into feedback. For example, you can use survey logic  to customize the question flow based on how customers respond. If someone gives you a low CSAT rating, your next question might ask them to explain why their experience was poor.

With a purposeful approach to feedback collection, you can get a lot more from your data. Customers are more likely to offer useful suggestions when they have a bit of guidance.

Here’s a look at some standard customer surveys:

  • Product satisfaction surveys: Product adoption is a big component of the customer experience. If setup goes smoothly, customer satisfaction starts strong. If your products are confusing or frustrating to use, the customer experience quickly sours. Measuring product satisfaction after purchase can reveal flaws (and benefits) you’d otherwise never hear about.
  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys: You’re probably familiar with this common survey type. CSAT surveys have long been used to measure customer satisfaction, usually after specific interactions. When you understand how your customers feel about key aspects of your business, like customer service and online checkout, you can identify gaps that need attention.
  • Prospect surveys: We usually think about the customer experience beginning post-sale (when a prospect becomes a customer), but in reality, customers form important opinions about your brand in the period leading up to purchase. As such, it makes sense to consider sales surveys—like prospect satisfaction, opportunity won/lost reason, etc.—key customer experience surveys too. The results can inform marketing campaigns, reveal gaps in your sales process, and help you better connect to your customers.
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys: It’s fairly simple to measure customer satisfaction with specific interactions, but one-off surveys don’t necessarily capture the quality of your customer experience holistically. The NPS survey approaches it a bit differently, using one primary question (How likely are you to recommend our business?) to quantify overall customer satisfaction and loyalty. It’s a fantastic way to benchmark customer loyalty and collect open-ended feedback at each stage of the customer journey.

Customer surveys like these can deliver valuable insights for management. Once you identify opportunities for improvement—and make changes to processes and offerings—you can use follow-up surveys to chart the effectiveness of each move.

You can enact real change when feedback lives in your CRM.

Most companies understand the value of customer feedback, but they often run into problems when it’s time to do something with it. Maybe someone at the company is reading every online review and monitoring CSAT ratings daily, but if that doesn’t translate into visible action, it’s meaningless from the customer’s perspective. As far as they’re concerned, you asked for their opinion but didn’t actually listen to them.

To put customer feedback to good use, it needs to be highly accessible to your team. Each time a customer service agent opens a new support case, they should be able to find that customer’s most recent CSAT score without opening up a separate program and running a search. Before a sales rep follows up with a prospect, they should see their feedback from the first call.

The best way to put that feedback in your team’s hands is by integrating customer surveys with the other customer relationship tools they use daily. For example, integrating GetFeedback with Salesforce helps unify your customer views. Your team gets a comprehensive picture of the customer without all the extra clicks, so they can make informed decisions that help both parties.

Here’s a look at some of the other benefits you gain when you marry the two tools:

  • You can analyze customer feedback by segments to better understand specific groups. Maybe Net Promoter Score varies widely between customers one two different plans. That’s important. It’s far easier to draw those kinds of connections when customer feedback lives in Salesforce.
  • You can automate survey distribution using workflows. The most popular example would be the Case Closed CSAT Survey workflow, which triggers a customer satisfaction survey after a case is closed in Salesforce Service Cloud. This minimizes the work that goes into surveying your customers and guarantees feedback collection is consistent.
  • You can set up alerts for negative (or positive) feedback, so the right team members are clued in instantly. On top of that, it’s simple to design follow-up workflows to ensure customers get the attention they need. For instance, if a customer rated their support agent poorly, you can automatically create a task for the customer service manager to look into it.
  • You can measure key metrics over time. Are customers becoming happier or unhappier month by month? Is service quality improving or declining? Did your latest product release impact customer satisfaction ratings among your most valued customers?
  • You can identify and act on customer trends. To analyze feedback effectively, you have to consider who gave it. Feedback from your top customers might hold more weight than feedback from new customers who haven’t had much experience with your company. Similarly, you might care more about CSAT ratings during busy seasons or among your target demographic. It’s far easier to segment survey results and make more powerful decisions when you can parse the data.

Taking action isn’t just about following up.

Don’t get us wrong—it’s great to make a habit of following up on feedback. Customers tend to be happily surprised when they get a personal call from a company after a bad experience or a shout-out after a positive one. These gestures show exceptional care and make customers fall in love with a brand.

But acknowledging feedback isn’t exactly the same as taking action on it—it’s important to recognize the difference between the two.

When you send customer surveys, you typically do so because you want to improve your business in some way. That means creating positive change that impacts many customers at once, not just one. To do that, you have to treat customer feedback as an opportunity for massive growth, not just a chance to repair one customer relationship.

If a customer speaks up about a problem, chances are other customers are experiencing it too. Apologizing to them and moving on is comparable to putting a bandaid on a gash. Instead, consider creating a customer feedback cycle, like the one Campaign Monitor designed for their NPS program.

The Campaign Monitor product team uses feedback from their NPS survey to plan and prioritize future product updates and feature releases. They also kicked off monthly “feedback sessions” for their customer success and product teams to discuss the latest customer feedback and strategize together. This approach focuses on the bigger picture and puts the customer at the head of the table.

Wrap-up

Customer feedback is invaluable, but it’s not enough to create and send surveys. Companies often consider feedback “acted on” when they read and digest it, but to the customer who’s spoken up, that means nothing. In order to prove you’re listening to your customers, you have to show them that their voice matters.

As customer experience becomes increasingly important, so will the way companies respond to critical customer feedback. The next time you get a less-than-stellar rating, remember: acting is more than acknowledging. Treat it like you would an employee grievance or a product malfunction—prioritize the solution.

What is CX? - customer surveys

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