In order to get the best possible insights from customers, you need to know where to look. There’s no one guaranteed correct method you can use to gather feedback. In fact, there are so many different places for gathering customer feedback, some businesses might not know where to start.
Here, we compiled a list of 15 various places where you can gather valuable feedback from your customers.
When you want to gather specific feedback, the best way to do so is just to ask directly. One of the easiest ways to do so is to use an online survey platform. Put together a short list of questions and distribute it to customers via email or via your website.
This will allow you to get answers to specific questions about your products and services, or even about potential future promotions. Online surveys will also help you keep all of your information neatly organized and accessible so that you can draw conclusions from it.
Depending on what kind of business you run, you might also consider conducting telephone surveys. Though response rates for phone surveys have dropped in recent years, it can still be a valuable tool for certain businesses.
If you and your salespeople often conduct business over the phone, then gathering feedback using that same method makes sense. To get the best responses, just keep the questions quick and easy. You might even consider asking a question or two as part of the sales process.
Some businesses today are also conducting mobile surveys. Pew research from earlier this year indicates that 34% of adults who access the internet on their cell phones use them as their primary means of going online. So it’s becoming more essential for businesses to reach out to customers on mobile platforms.
Similar to online surveys, there are several apps and platforms dedicated specifically to sending out surveys via mobile devices. You could also consider making your regular online surveys responsive so that people can answer them on the device of their choosing.
If you run a local business or often have clients or customers visit your office, consider utilizing hard-copy feedback forms or old-fashioned suggestion boxes. These aren’t exactly technologically advanced, but they can still help you gather insights from those who prefer pen and paper to online forms.
Email or Contact Forms
You don’t always have to specifically ask for feedback, though. No matter what, you should make it easy for your customers to reach out to you if they have questions or concerns. The simplest way to do this is to make your company email address or contact form available on your website.
While individual customer interactions are important, you can also use these communications to gain insights and draw conclusions. For example, if you keep getting the same question over and over again about where something is on your website, you should probably consider making that section more prominent.
Blog or Website Comments
Another way to let customers tell you what they think is to allow public comments on your blog or website. These will normally be shorter than private emails, but if you write posts or pages about specific offerings, you might receive some more specific feedback. You could even ask short questions at the end of your posts if there’s something you’d like to know from your customers or readers.
You can also learn things from the people who visit your site but don’t say anything. By using Google Analytics or similar tools, you can find out things like what parts of your website people visit most and how they get there. This information can help you decide what is working and what isn’t in terms of your website.
For more specific feedback specifically about your website, consider employing usability tests. In these tests, users visit your website to give you feedback about how it works. By utilizing a testing service like UserTesting or TryMyUI, you can actually see your website through a customer’s eyes.
If there’s a part of your website that’s confusing for people, you’ll be able to learn what that is. Or if there are pages or sections that are particularly helpful or distracting, you can find that out too. This type of tool can help you make more sense out of the information you gather from your analytics provider.
Traditional focus groups are still great for gathering insights. By gathering a group of people in a real-world environment, you can start an authentic discussion. These are often used during the early stages of marketing a product or service. You can ask the members of the focus group about your new offering, and then open up the discussion and see what topics come up.
Within the Product
If you offer a digital product, consider integrating a feedback form directly into your product. You could ask customers to rate the product or answer a question or two once they log in, say, for the fifth time. This makes the process easy for customers while giving you a better understanding of your users.
Social media is one of the most accessible places you can gather feedback. You should constantly monitor your brand’s mentions across different platforms, even ones you don’t use. You could even set up a dedicated hashtag for people to share information about your brand.
You should also constantly monitor reviews that people post about your business. These reviews can be on dedicated sites like Yelp, social media platforms like Facebook, or individual blogs and websites. These reviews can not only help you build your reputation online, but they can also help you learn more about the customer experience.
If you notice a lot of customers complaining about a certain aspect of your business, it is time for a change. And if you notice more of them raving about a particular feature or item, you could consider focusing more of your marketing efforts on it.
Discussion boards and other online communities are similar to social media, but more specified for a particular industry or interest group. There are almost certainly some of these communities for your industry.
To gain insights from them, sign up for an account and consider taking part in discussions. You can share information about your company and even ask for input, as long as you’re active in other discussions as well. At the very least, see if other people discuss your brand or any of your offerings.
On your website or in your product, you might consider making yourself or members of your team available for live chatting. This can be especially helpful if your product requires a lot of IT support.
While the primary purpose of this chat feature should be to help customers and answer any of their questions, you can also gain insights from it. If customers seem to have a lot of trouble with one area of your website or product in particular, you’ll know that area needs to be more clear.
Sometimes though, the best way to gather feedback is just to talk to people. If you have a local business where customers come in to visit, talk to them. Ask them how their visit was. Ask if they’ve visited you before. Be open and friendly, so they feel they can come to you with any issues or questions. It’s not exactly a high-tech solution, but talking to people directly is behind all of these tips for gathering customer feedback.
Feedback Photo via Shutterstock
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I would add that it’s important to record that feedback and analyze it so that it goes beyond the anecdotal or intuition level.
Thanks for the extensive list of feedback channels, there are also feedback systems that are 2 way feedback. Meaning customer or user sends feedback and owner can reply back, its a perfect solution if feedback isnt clear and more clarification is needed.
Kelly McLachlan (14001722)
Encouraging actionable feedback, mitigates gossip and disgruntled customers, and provides a platform where improvements can be made between “company-customer” expectations and reality. Your substantial list of feedback channel examples provides companies with a vast amount of ideas that can be implemented for successful feedback.
Companies that solicit “anonymous” feedback often tend to get a greater response as customers feel a sense of “safety” being able to comment anonymously. I would therefore suggest that for this purpose, companies should implement online reviews, blog and website commenting platforms, website analytics and “within a product” techniques as recommended by your article. These systems will elicit action and provide companies with valuable feedback and suggestions. Although these techniques are “easy”, they are all impersonal. I therefore agree that “in person conversation” is a sensible channel to practice as constructive criticism and immediate guidance can be offered.
Collaborative feedback is vital for a good “company-customer” bond and your blog article provides many interesting and informing channels for companies to use that suit the time, place and convenience of customers and businesses. These channels will help give customers a voice to express suggestions that will better the company.
Thank you for an interesting and informing read.
Thank you Amanda for providing such an informative post.
On that list i feel that you should have included tips as how to market in the rural areas as i believe it would be highly appreciated. i have an uncle who owns small potential business in a place that has inadequate infrastructure and people have no access to above mentioned resources to link them to the business.
Even thou the in-person conversation might be viable, i feel one would end up mixing the information gathered since its too informal.
I would highly appreciate your insight on that.
I love that you included “in-person conversations” – People seem to forget that person-to-person is the original social, and it’s important to utilize this for your business!
Great read, thanks!
Amanda, am becoming your fan, great piece, though instead of “Focus Group” I believe “Friendship Pair” would provide much more in-depth insight, not to mention that it has been proven via studies and research (Geoff Bayley, Clive Nancarrow 1998 Impulse purchasing a qualitative exploration of the phenomenon).
Lastly have you ever thought about it, I mean when you have positive feedback from all your customers and yet your sales are on decline or stagnant, How would you explain that ? well here is an interesting article that explains feedback from a different angle http://www.easymarketinga2z.com/2013/07/product-service-feedback-what-you-should-really-know.html