„Understand Your Customers, Increase Sales”. Once I saw this slogan on Brand24’s retargeted banner. The very first thought that popped up in my mind was: “Hey! This is our catchphrase! We do the same thing in Startquestion.com as Brand24 does from this point of view”. We both collect customer feedback trying to understand them to grow sales results. The way we listen to our clients, though, is different. Brand24 deals with unprompted feedback; we gather and analyze prompted feedback. Let’s take a closer look at both kinds.
What unprompted feedback is.
Unprompted (or unsolicited) feedback is a sort of insight from your clients that you did not ask for. You just simply collect mentions that have already been posted online by more motivated users. Brand24, an Internet monitoring tool, reactively tracks everything that is published on the Internet. It is a kind of elderly neighbor who observes everything through her window throughout the whole day. She watches what is going on in your dooryard and picks up the most exciting situations. She does not have to ask any questions because the neighborhood tells her the whole story. This is all she wants to know.
Unprompted feedback has the huge advantage of letting our customers naturally get everything off their chest. You do not suggest to them a specific context of thinking or scenario they should follow. You let your customers show their real nature, and such insight is a perfect starting point in figuring out their needs.
Naturally, listening to customers is not the sole function that Brand24 gives you. As the CEO has mentioned many times, the tool can be also helpful for monitoring your own brand or measuring the effects of marketing campaigns. Areas where you can apply the tool, are countless. Probably, even the CEO himself does not know all of them.
Our studies show that similarly to Internet monitoring, satisfaction and loyalty research is one of the most popular applications of Internet surveys. This trend has been growing steeply recently. In the USA, nobody asks anymore why you need these surveys and why it is worth studying customer satisfaction. Many US companies employ loyalty and satisfaction indexes as the main KPIs on many corporate levels. In the strategic, tactic, and operational dimensions.
Be proactive and approach your customers.
Tracking online mentions that include customer feedback is extremely important for a better understanding of your audience. However, you need to remember that usually, the most motivated people want to share their reviews on the Internet. Most customers have opinions, but they are rarely motivated to contact you to tell you their thoughts. Fewer than 5 percent of customers who have a strong opinion about a product will take the time to communicate their opinions on their own. Also, remember that there is a big group of dissatisfied customers who would simply leave unless you ask them for feedback. On top of that, unsolicited feedback usually follows an intense experience. Whether it is positive or negative, people feel the urge to share it with their audience. What about the average experience, then? They are also very important if you want to get a full picture of your persona.
This requires more proactive listening, and this is what we do in Startquestion. More and more often, if you want to get an answer, you need to ask for it! You should create a scenario that consists of many questions, and in our case, it will be a questionnaire. Whether you want to apply this kind of survey or a totally different one (CATI, CAWI, etc.) you can easily find out what clients think about and have to say about your business environment. This kind of feedback is defined as prompted (or solicited).
What you can get from prompted feedback
Undoubtedly, it may seem that prompted feedback will provide you with answers you want to hear only. However, it is important to ask your customers directly or give them tricky questions to learn something that they may not be aware of. These pieces of information are crucial for your business. As a consequence of putting a client on track, you lead him to a certain line of thought. Therefore, there is no room for loose reflection. It is just like a casual conversation with another person. When you speak, your partner is listening to you and tries to adapt to the topic of your talk.
Nevertheless, surveys are extremely important in your business. The possibility to ask questions about issues that interest you the most is crucial. As I mentioned before, clients might not be aware of the factors that determine your success. On top of that, you need to learn how to ask intelligent and tricky questions, as direct ones might not be enough to provide you with sufficient knowledge.
How to collect prompted feedback.
There is no doubt that listening to your customers will only do good to your sales. So how can you actually collect feedback from your clients? In the case of unsolicited feedback, you simply use Internet monitoring tools that will do most of the work for you.
Prompted feedback is easy to gather as well, however you need to design a proper survey that would cover crucial aspects of customer satisfaction and loyalty. What is even more important, you should create a strategy for collecting opinions from your customers. Gathering feedback should not be a one-time event! You need to listen to your customers on daily basis. Every day send invitations to complete survey to 1% of your customers and each day, let it be a different 1% until you reach the end of the list. Then you can start over. Such a solution not only helps you get valuable insights about your brand and service, but also makes it easier to analyse survey answers. You will not end up with an enormous pile of filled questionnaires that would be impossible to go through. What is more, running a survey everyday decreases the risk of missing valuable feedback.
Finally, don’t forget about closing the loop, which is an ultimate way to improve loyalty. Every time a dissatisfied customer reports a problem you should monitor all the progress with solving the issue.
Tips on collecting prompted feedback effectively
- Assign different values to your customers based on the level of satisfaction and loyalty. You should prioritize communication with clients who are the most valuable to your brand. There are many approaches you can apply to group your customers.
- Develop different communication strategies for distinct groups of customers. Customers with different satisfaction levels demand different treatment. Therefore, after you group your clients adjust communication to each group individually.
- Incorporate collecting and analyzing feedback into your daily plan. It should not be a one-time event. Remember that customer is king and studying their opinions should be your priority.
- Both prompted and unprompted feedback deserve special attention. Do not underestimate any voice of your customer whether it is an opinion you asked for or not.
- Monitor all processes of closing the loop. Make sure that a dissatisfied customer will be properly served.
- Never underestimate repetitive problems. Companies often tend to ignore issues that many customers report over time. This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as very often it indicates that you failed at basics. If a couple of clients report similar problem you should make fixing it a priority.
I will not write at length about collecting feedback, because you definitely know now what this is all about. Main purpose of this article is to summarize and systemize knowledge about collecting customer opinions. You must listen to your customers to be successful in business. That is a fact, just like the sky is blue. Remember that you can prompt customer feedback and find out what you need to do to improve satisfaction and loyalty. But also you can listen to unprompted feedback that shows the real face of your customers.
Never stop listening! Clients and their needs evolve over time and you have to follow these changes. Level of customer satisfaction and loyalty can go up and down and you do not want to be blind to that. Keep your finger on the pulse and your eyes and ears wide open. I guarantee you that you can discover numerous things about how customers perceive a brand, market and their needs.
Keep calm and listen to you customers!