Asking for customer feedback should never become a code word for “chore.”
When a survey arrives in someone’s inbox with a link to a customer feedback survey, for instance, they know you’re about to request they spend time they don’t have. They may not believe the information you’re gathering will benefit them directly, or at least not right away. And until they start filling a customer feedback form out, it’s not always certain what questions will be asked and therefore, what kind of effort will be involved.
A recent study from Customer Thermometer shows just how challenging marketers are starting to find the customer feedback process. According to the report, 45 per cent of respondents say they usually ignore requests to fill out customer feedback surveys, and only nine per cent said they fill them out very thoughtfully.
These requests need to be less onerous for customers and more valuable to companies. In fact there are multiple ways to achieve this, which you can apply in tandem with customer feedback tools such as Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud, here are a few to consider:
If the first page of your survey says “Customer Feedback Survey,” you’ve already missed an opportunity.
The smartest companies don’t just gather opinions about how well they’re doing, but about issues that affect their target market. As such, it should be crafted with the same effort to be “on brand” as any other form of advertising or content marketing. That way, people feel like they’re contributing to something important, rather than merely giving a series of ratings from one to five.
Action Item: You’d give a specific name to an eBook, white paper or blog post. Why not develop a title for your customer feedback survey that captures their interest and sparks their imagination? “What You Want From The Automotive Supply Industry,” might work in one B2B sector, for example, while “Transform The Future Of Health-Care Services” might work in another.
When some companies send a customer feedback form with an email that begins, “We appreciate you,” customers don’t necessarily feel as though you’re addressing them personally.
One of the biggest opportunities with marketing automation is to bring greater contextualization around all customer interactions, using data pulled from CRM or other sources. Your goal should be to get important stats from customers without making them feel like just another number.
Action Item: Think about how you’d talk to a customer if they were in front of you. You might ask about how they enjoyed that last item they bought, how they’re dealing with some other challenge they were tackling or news related to their organization or industry. You probably have all this information already, so it can be applied to the email messages you send out to solicit customer feedback. This goes well beyond using the person’s first and last name in the message. It’s a matter of using salient details to show the answers they give will be thoughtfully considered as a way to assist with their personal pain points.
There are only so many customer feedback questions you can ask before people’s patience wears thin. That’s why many surveys incorporate a “progress bar” that visibly illustrates how much longer than can expect to spend answering “yes,” “no” or some other form of feedback.
Depending on how it’s set up, though, customers could work through five or even 10 questions and see they’ve only progressed 25 percent of the way. A numerical approach alone may be discouraging versus something that shows them the logic of your approach.
Action Item: Consider labelling portions of your progress bar with brief descriptions such as “Working With Us,” “Your Biggest Priorities,” “Important Considerations” or anything else that gives them an intellectual incentive to keep making their way to the next area of the form. These could also be lighthearted such as “The next section’s shorter!” or “We’re almost done!” if that makes sense for your audience.
Customers already realize that you’re hoping to get good scores from them that can be used to make marketing and other departments look good to the CEO or other stakeholders. They may also appreciate that you’re interested in constructive criticism. Beyond that, though, the customer feedback endgame is often somewhat mysterious to an outsider. It doesn’t have to be.
Action Item: Coming back to that idea of “What’s in it for me?”, think about what you could comfortably tell recipients about your approach to applying their insights. Will the data possibly be used in retraining members of your sales, marketing or customer service teams? Will it be weaved into the development process for a forthcoming new product or service? Will it be reviewed by the most senior members of the organization? Next, consider whether you could provide a snapshot of what you’ve learned after the fact, maybe in the form of an infographic or chart they can use to benchmark themselves against their peers.
Depending on when they’re sent out and what the email message says, customer feedback surveys sometimes look and feel like they’ve come out of the blue, or from a completely different and unfamiliar part of the business. That’s a big miss -- as is failing to reward those who fill out a form with new opportunities to help them solve problems.
Action Item: Beyond a sincere thank-you, make sure your customer feedback form or survey ends with a call to action to learn more, to contact someone directly or to further their investment with your firm. This could include links to other content marketing resources, special promotions and discounts, or invitations to a webinar or live event to meet more of the team.
When you get the details right, customer feedback will appear less of an added burden and more like the extra touch of personal attention that reinforces why a customer chose to do business with your firm in the first place.
Social, mobile, connected, and cloud technologies have changed the way customers expect service. Check out our ebook, "5 Ways to Make Service Easy for Today’s Customers," with more ways you can make the service experience easy for your customers.