How collecting and acting on real-time customer feedback can improve your business

Article

Sara Staffaroni

August 13, 2020

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Customer feedback is incredibly valuable for your business. It helps you refine your products so your customers love them, make your services as enticing as possible, and offer an all-around excellent customer experience. And in an increasingly competitive world for businesses, your customer experience is what allows you to stand above other companies in your industry and win loyal, lifelong customers. 

There are many ways to gather feedback from your customers. But many of them take place long after an interaction with your business has already occurred—and that means it could be inaccurate or too late to make a real difference. That’s why capturing and acting on real-time customer feedback is an absolutely vital part of creating an exceptional experience for your customers every day, which helps you improve every part of your business. 

Real-time customer feedback allows businesses to gather feedback from customers during an interaction. It’s feedback that is collected in the moment, while customers are experiencing your product, your user experience, or your customer service. This makes the feedback you receive timely and highly relevant, and that’s what makes it so valuable for your business. 

What is real-time customer feedback? 

Real-time customer feedback is different from most traditional methods of collecting customer feedback. Those methods include surveying customers about your business after some time has passed, asking them to join focus groups, or sending quarterly or yearly surveys about some aspect of the business. 

These traditional methods still have significant value—they can offer perspectives on various aspects of the customer experience. But if you rely solely on them, you’ll miss out on several essential areas of the customer experience. 

Why is real-time customer feedback a necessary addition to your traditional feedback methods? It gives you added insight into the customer experience. For instance, Net Promoter Score® (NPS®) surveys are often only used quarterly or yearly to capture a high-level picture of customer satisfaction and loyalty. But if used more regularly, they can pinpoint what customers are feeling about specific aspects of the customer journey, like certain touchpoints or interactions, and can be tied to a specific point in time.

How to collect real-time customer feedback 

How do you capture feedback in real-time? It starts with creating a real-time customer feedback system to collect and manage that feedback. The most important thing to remember is that collecting real-time feedback relies on capturing feedback while your user or customer is interacting with your product, your services, or your company—not afterward. It must happen in the moment to reap the benefits of real-time feedback.

Identifying touchpoints

When should your business capture customer feedback in real-time? If it fits with your business goals, you can collect this feedback at any stage of the customer journey where you want to make improvements. But if you’re looking to narrow down places to start, here are a few key customer touchpoints where real-time feedback is especially valuable. 

  • At signup/account creation. When your prospects decide to take a concrete step towards becoming customers, such as signing up for your services or creating an account on your app or website, this initial interaction can have a strong impact on their feelings about your business. Asking them for feedback on how easy it was to create that account or sign up can help you create excellent initial impressions of your business for other new customers. 

  • Initial product opening. First impressions of your products are vital to winning over new customers and ensuring they stay loyal. How do customers feel when they begin to use your software product, or open a product they’ve just purchased from your company? They should feel pleased because your product matches their expectations —and if they don’t, you’ve got work to do. Find out by asking them for feedback in this moment. 

  • Product milestones. Your customers will have evolving feelings about your products over time. After they’ve used your software for a month and begin using a new feature, or if they have been using a physical product they purchase from you for a year, you’ll want to find out if they’re still loving it or if they feel negatively about it now. Asking them for real-time feedback while they’re using the product allows you to gather this accurate feedback and make any needed changes. 

  • Submitting support tickets. When customers have an issue with your product or service, what happens next is vital to your relationship with them. If you make it easy for them to get effective help, they’ll likely remain loyal and satisfied. But if your customer support system is clunky, complex, or error-ridden, they’ll become even more frustrated. Be sure your customer support system is user-friendly by asking customers about their experience when they submit a ticket to the system. 

Selecting the right questions to ask

Asking the right questions is important to the success of your real-time customer feedback program. And since you can ask for feedback at so many different parts of the customer journey, you’ll also want to be sure to match the question to the correct touchpoint. 

To ensure you have high response rates to your real-time feedback questions, you’ll want to keep questions short and easy to answer. Your customers are being asked for their opinions while they’re completing a task with your business —make sure you’re allowing them to quickly answer, or they can have a frustrating customer experience. Most people are not going to answer a 10-question feedback survey with multiple open-ended questions when they just came to your website to report an issue. 

You will also want to be sure the questions you ask are highly relevant to the interaction the customer is having at the moment. This will ensure the answers you receive provide accurate insights into the touchpoint or product. Plus, keeping questions specific and relevant also makes them easier for the customer to answer. For example, you can ask a customer who just signed up for a subscription to your software as a service (SaaS) product how easy the checkout process was —don’t ask them something vague such as, “How did we help you today?” 

Essentially, keep questions specific and simple when you’re collecting real-time feedback, and it will benefit both your customers and your business. 

Choosing the right feedback mechanism 

There are multiple mechanisms you can use to gather real-time feedback from your customers. And you can choose from a variety of real-time customer feedback software programs that will help you set up these mechanisms and collect and analyze your feedback all in one place (just like GetFeedback). 

In-product feedback 

If you offer a product such as software, you can easily gather real-time feedback while customers are actually using your product and features. Adding a feedback request feature in the product itself, such as on a main dashboard or the home screen, enables you to get real-time feedback on your product you can use to find bugs and make improvements. 

In-app feedback 

While your users are actually in your app, you can use feedback mechanisms to ask them about their experience and opinions in real-time. In-app feedback can be gathered by in-app surveys triggered by a user taking a certain action, an in-app feedback widget, or a popup asking for feedback. 

Website surveys

You can also gather real-time feedback from your customers while they’re on your website. These short surveys are native, meaning they don’t take customers out of the website to answer, and can be highly effective. You can use them to ask customers about the task that they’re currently undertaking on your website, like making a purchase or updating account information, or to ask if the resources and information that they’re browsing are helping them find what they need. 

Live chat 

Live chat offers a way for your customer service to check in with customers after they’ve taken an action. Your live chat agents can ask for real-time conversational feedback and share follow-up information with customers so you are on top of what’s happening right now. This method of collecting feedback is especially helpful if you offer a complex product and want to be sure customers are getting the support they need right away. 

Chatbots 

Chatbots are a less resource-intensive way to gather real-time feedback than live chats, and can be used by any size company as they have become more popular and affordable in recent years. They can be set up to ask for feedback once a customer completes a certain action or visits a specific page on your website.

Acting on real-time customer feedback 

Once you’ve gathered your real-time customer feedback, the journey isn’t over —in fact, the most important part is just beginning. Now it’s time to respond and take action on the feedback you received from your customers. Your real-time feedback and customer experience management should be strongly connected as well so you can ensure you’re always improving your customer experience. 

Organizing feedback 

If you’ve set up your real-time feedback system well and asked the right questions, you might soon be drowning in feedback from your customers. Of course, gathering lots of feedback is great because it gives you a more accurate view of what’s going on. But it can also be overwhelming, and feel like you have more feedback than you know what to do with. 

That’s why it’s important to set up a process for organizing and tracking feedback responses. This is when you need a feedback management system—perhaps one you’re already using to run your Voice of the Customer (VoC) program—to help you collect all your customer feedback in one place. 

Once that feedback has been gathered in a centralized and accessible location, you will need to assign it to the appropriate team. Your support teams will need to receive and address the feedback about your customer support experience, and your product teams must have immediate access to product feedback. Customer success teams will also need to get any feedback relevant to their function. And it doesn’t stop there —even your finance team may have issues to address with billing and payments, or your marketing team with website issues. 

Always close the loop

Feedback from your customers and users is a gift —and gifts shouldn’t go unacknowledged. This is especially important when someone leaves you negative real-time feedback. You need to quickly close the loop with unhappy customers to solve their problem before it ends your relationship with them, and potentially becomes the subject of an angry and negative post on a review site or social media. 

When a customer leaves you negative feedback in real-time, someone from the appropriate team should reach out right away to apologize and fix the problem if possible. This helps even unhappy customers feel heard and seen, and shows that your business is truly listening to what they have to say. 

Even when customers leave you feedback that doesn’t need an immediate response, but helps you identify and fix an issue or create a new feature, it can be beneficial to close the loop by letting them know about the great new changes you’ve made. It’s all thanks to their feedback, after all, and shows that your business takes customer opinions and satisfaction seriously. 

And closing the loop is a lot easier when you empower your customer service agents to take action. If you allow your agents to resolve issues by making decisions, advocating for customers, and taking effective action, you’ll have happier customers. Your customer service agents will be happier and more engaged as well, and since they’re one of the keys to an exceptional customer experience, your business will ultimately benefit.  

Advantages of real-time customer feedback 

There are many benefits of real-time customer feedback. It offers you an accurate, timely, effective way of connecting with your customers to solve their issues and improve every aspect of your customer experience. That’s why it’s such an essential part of your customer experience management (CXM) system. 

Real-time feedback is more accurate 

It’s a fact of human nature—the farther removed a person is from an experience, the less likely they are to recall the interaction and their feelings around it accurately. That’s why real-time feedback has a higher level of accuracy about specific interactions and events than other feedback mechanisms. 

When your business collects feedback in the moment, your customers will have the experience you’re asking about fresh in their minds. Their assessment of the experience will be strong and accurate, and they can provide plenty of follow-up details if needed as well. Waiting weeks or months to ask them for feedback doesn’t give you this level of accuracy. 

Real-time feedback is more effective 

Collecting and acting on real-time feedback is also very effective at creating an exceptional customer experience. It allows you to react quickly to unhappy customers, which increases the likelihood of customer recovery. 

For example, if a customer tells you in a quarterly survey about a delayed shipping problem that caused issues for them, you can’t solve that issue if it happened two months ago. However with real-time feedback, you can hear about issues from your customers right away and have a plan in place for addressing and solving them, and closing the loop with them as well. When complaints are resolved quickly, customers are more likely to make a purchase from your business again.

Fosters a culture of improvement 

Even the businesses with the best customer experiences are always looking for ways to improve. Customer expectations can shift rapidly, and your company needs to keep up. Asking for real-time feedback helps hold your company and employees consistently accountable for the customer experience. 

It can also help you create customer experiences that are always improving, since you’re constantly receiving customer feedback. If you’re only asking for feedback from your customers quarterly or yearly, that leaves a lot of potential gaps, and your workplace culture won’t feel as connected to the customer experience. 

Builds trust and customer loyalty 

Customer trust is a valuable resource. In a highly competitive world, consumers are looking to do business with companies that they know they can trust, not simply the ones who offer great products. And that trust builds strong customer loyalty. 

Asking your customers for their feedback in real-time shows that you care about their opinions and don’t regard them as just another transaction. It can deepen your relationship with them over time. And when you take action on that feedback, and let customers know how you used it to make things better for them, that’s an even more powerful driver of loyalty. 

Key takeaways 

Asking your customers for their feedback in real-time offers a host of benefits to them and to your business as well. You’ll stay on top of changing customer trends, get an early alert to any issues or bugs, and be able to solve problems immediately and build stronger customer relationships. 

Collecting and taking action in the moment begins with selecting the right real-time customer feedback solution—and that’s exactly what GetFeedback offers. By allowing you to listen to customers wherever they are and set up your real-time CX program in just days, you’ll be on the way to offering an exceptional customer experience in no time.

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