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As we’ve previously discussed, customer feedback is an incredibly useful tool for understanding and improving what your business offers. Your customers have specific needs; when you understand what these are and build them into your products, you’ll create satisfied users and happy advocates for your business.

This is where you hit a very common issue – just how do you get people to give you the feedback you need? The answer comes in asking the right questions, using the best channels to reach your customers, and giving them an incentive for providing you with feedback. Let’s cover each of these.

Asking the right questions in your customer feedback surveys

We already know the questions you ask must be based on what you most need to know. Here are some hints on framing your questions in the best way.

Keep the total number of questions you ask low

People have a thousand things to do and short attention spans. Keep the number of questions to the minimum you need to make improvements. Ideally, between three and six.

Phrase questions so they’re easy to answer

Keep questions short and specific; phrase them so they don’t require too much thinking. It’s better to ask “rate how easy it is to use your product” than it is to ask “what do you think of our customer support materials?”

Provide an easy rating system for answers

When you’re collecting numeric data, make sure it’s easy for your customers to quickly choose their response. If possible, use a “four-point scale,” for example:

“How satisfied are you with the quality of your widget? Very satisfied, satisfied, dissatisfied, very dissatisfied.”

The reason you use a four-point scale is because if you use a five-point one, most people will instinctively choose the middle option.

Use a combination of quantitative and qualitative questions

  • Quantitative answers provide numeric data you can use to improve things (e.g., the percentage of people who are satisfied or very satisfied with your products).
  • Qualitative answers let your customers provide general feedback (e.g., if you’re dissatisfied with your widget, please let us know why).

Use both types of answers to get the highest-quality feedback.

Communicate your survey through the best channels

There are several ways to reach your customers and ask them for feedback. Choose the one that’s best for your customers.

  • Phone – Call your customers and ask them to spend a few minutes answering questions.
  • Online – Create an online survey and email it to your customers.
  • Interstitial – Have the survey pop up when visitors come to your website.

Phone interviews get the highest-quality feedback, and surveyors can ask clarifying questions. Online surveys are a good way to reach larger numbers of people, but the response rates are typically very low. Interstitials can be useful, but they typically only ask one or two questions.

The size of your business might also determine your approach. Larger businesses could hire an expert survey firm to carry out phone interviews, while a smaller business might rely on online surveys. Remember too that you can tweak as you go along; if you’re not getting the responses you need from one channel, try switching things around.

The channels you use will depend on your budget, the type of survey you’re creating, and the feedback you need.

Incentivize your customer feedback survey

The most important part of customer feedback surveys is actually getting your customers to complete them. It’s a big problem for businesses seeking feedback. People have many things they’d rather be doing, so to get feedback, it’s important to reward people for spending the time.

This means you need to incentivize your survey. Possible incentives include:

  • Early access to new features of your products (the ability to be an alpha or beta tester)
  • Money off when they buy their next products or services from you
  • Discounted or free subscriptions to your services for a limited period, or an upgrade to their product
  • Reward points, discounts, coupons or vouchers they can use elsewhere

Choose the incentives that are most likely to appeal to your customer base, and promote them strongly along with your survey.

Once you’ve created your survey, test it out with a select group of peers, employees and customers so you can iron out any problems before publicizing it, and good luck!

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