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Customer feedback guide: how to collect feedback and use it to grow your business

July 31, 2019 by Diana De Jesus

At Hotjar, customer feedback is at the core of what we do. We want all of our team members to obsess over the wants, needs, and opinions of our users and customers, and in turn, we encourage our users and customers to obsess over their users and customers. It’s a virtuous cycle where everybody can have the best experience possible.

There are no quick hacks or fancy solutions here: the most direct way to find out what’s working (or not) for customers is by simply asking them. In this article, we show you why you should collect feedback from customers, how to do it, and how to use that information to make positive changes.

Table of contents

What is customer feedback?

Customer feedback is the information a business collects from its customers about their preferences and experiences with a product or service.

Customer feedback allows any business to learn directly from its customers; the information can then be used to enhance products, optimize sales funnels, and improve the customer experience.

11 reasons why collecting customer feedback is important

Nobody has better firsthand knowledge of your business than your customers. Collecting customer feedback gives you the opportunity to leverage that expert knowledge into better service, better sales, and a better product in at least 11 different ways:

  1. Understand what drives customers to your website
  2. Understand what stops your customers from converting
  3. Understand what persuades your customers to convert
  4. Improve your product
  5. Improve your website
  6. Improve your sales and customer service
  7. Measure customer satisfaction
  8. Build customer relationships and show you care
  9. Improve customer retention
  10. Fine-tune your pricing strategy
  11. Understand your competition

1. Understand what drives customers to your website​

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Instead of guessing or assuming why your visitors have reached your site, learn about what drove them there.

Collecting feedback in the form of psychographic data on your customers’ goals, desires, and interests gives you a better understanding of why they need your services. By asking them to describe what they are looking for, and why they want it, in their own words, you can find out what problems your visitors are trying to solve—and how you can help. 

2. Understand what stops your customers from converting

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Barriers are the obstacles that prevent your customers from engaging with your product as planned. They could be physical (website errors), practical (a lack of information), or even psychological (shame or fear).

Collecting feedback in the form of open-ended questions (“What is stopping you from buying today?”, “How easy did we make it for you to do what you wanted to do?”) helps you determine how much effort a customer has to exert to use a product or service, find the information they need, or get an issue resolved—so you can focus on removing these barriers.

3. Understand what persuades your customers to convert

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In contrast to barriers, hooks are the aspect of your website that persuade potential customers to take action. When you get feedback from your customers about what convinced them, you can discover the most effective hooks and emphasize them on your website to increase conversion rates.

4. Improve your product

If you don’t know how to improve your product, let your visitors tell you! With feedback, you’ll hear directly from your users and customers where your biggest room for growth is. 

Ultimately, the most useful and intuitive products are created through a customer-centric design process (here is an example of the process we use to build and improve Hotjar) that uses customer feedback to align products perfectly to the customer’s needs.

5. Improve your website

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The easier it is to use your website, the more likely visitors are to convert or recommend you to others. You can collect customer feedback about your website in a variety of ways—from placing a small feedback widget on each page of your site to running full-scale usability testing.

6. Improve your sales and customer service

Polling customers helps you evaluate the effectiveness and helpfulness of your sales and/or customer service representatives. In this context, a Customer Effort Score calculation helps you determine how easy, or difficult it is for customers to resolve any issues they encounter when doing business with you—studies show that low effort is the strongest driver of customer loyalty, so this is something you definitely need to be on top of.

7. Measure customer satisfaction

You can use customer satisfaction outside of customer support! By running customer satisfaction surveys across your site or via email, you can find out how happy your customers are with individual pages or functions. With this information, you’ll constantly make improvements to their experience.

8. Build customer relationships and show you care

As humans, we love it when we know we are being heard. Responding to the concerns that your customers share with you in a proactive manner allows you to close the feedback loop and make sure they know you take their issues seriously.

9. Improve customer retention

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On-page or exit-intent surveys can help you understand why customers leave, downgrade, or cancel. This information is crucial when you need to address specific customer concerns and boost your future retention rates.

10. Fine-tune your pricing strategy

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If your pricing plans are confusing, or if your prices are simply too high, that will negatively impact sales. Asking for customer feedback on your pricing pages or surveying customers after they’ve converted helps you determine if customers think your pricing is clear and reasonable, or there is room for improvement.

11. Understand your competition

In order to compete in your industry, you need to know how your services measure up in terms of pricing, quality, and service. Surveying customers on their past experiences might give you a clear indication of who your major competitors are and how you stack up against them.

📚Read more: want to get a better sense of the questions you can ask? Get started from this handy list of 28 customer feedback questions.

Ask for feedback on your website today 🔥

Grab a free Hotjar trial, start collecting feedback on your website, and answer burning questions such as: why is my website not converting? Why are visitors leaving without buying? How can I improve?

Free forever. Get started!
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Which customers should you collect feedback from?

People in different parts of the customer lifecycle will have different perspectives and information to share with you. Some customers have long histories with your product, while others may be trying it out for the first time. Whom you survey and when depends on the type of information you want to collect.

New customers

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New customers can offer a fresh perspective on your product that’s different from more seasoned users. They’ve also just gone through the decision-making and purchasing process, so they are the perfect people to poll for information on customer drivers, barriers, and hooks—which in turn can help you improve both the customer experienceand your conversion rates and optimize the buying experience.

Survey new customers after they complete their initial transaction and again during onboarding to make sure they are able to understand and implement your services.

Pro tip: while their information is very valuable, you don’t want to ask too much of new customers right off the bat. Use quick pop-up polls and brief surveys to gather information.

Active customers

Consistent or regular customers will be more knowledgeable about the ins and outs of your product or services and can give you informed feedback on specific features and processes. Routinely ask regular users to rate their satisfaction using Net Promoter Score(NPS) or Customer Effort Score (CES) polls, and send them email surveys or onsite surveys asking their opinions on specific aspects of your product or service.

Long-term customers

Your most loyal long-term customers are a great source for collecting more nuanced feedback. They know your product extremely well, which makes them best equipped to explain in-depth what they like or would improve. They can also speak to bigger picture issues, such as changes in service or quality over time.

In addition to routine surveys or pop-up questions, identify your most dedicated users and personally reach out and ask them for feedback via a longer survey or phone interview.

13 ways to collect customer feedback

There are many different methods for collecting feedback, from pop-up polls to chat logs. You may want to employ a variety of customer feedback methods to increase the likelihood of getting a response and to evaluate different aspects of the customer experience.

1. On-page feedback widgets

On-page feedback widgets like Incoming Feedback help you collect in-the-moment feedback from your visitors and customers about what they love or hate about a page or any of its elements. The results give you a useful mix of qualitative and quantitative data, as the comments can be read individually to keep track of specific issues, and the overall love-to-hate scores are aggregated and can be visualized as trends over time.

2. On-page surveys

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Unobtrusive on-page surveys invite customers to share feedback about a particular page or feature. You can ask open-ended questions or scaled questions like NPS or CSAT (see below).

3. On-page pop-ups

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Pop-up surveys appear in the middle of the screen, forcing users to either respond or close the box before moving on. They should be used sparingly to minimize the chance of annoying people, but they can be useful for getting answers to quick-and-specific questions such as “Not making a purchase today? Why?”

Pro tip: you can have the same result with on-page surveys (see #2 again), and cause a far less disruptive experience for your visitors. 

4. Email surveys

Send email surveys to your customers when you want to ask several questions at once. Ask almost any kind of question here, like: open-ended, multiple-choice, or rating scale questions are all fair game. The return rate is usually low for email surveys, but it’s possible to boost participation by promising a reward (like a discount) or prize (a chance to win a gift card) to participants.

5. NPS surveys

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Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a measure of customer loyalty and satisfaction, where customers are asked how likely they are to recommend your brand to others on a scale of 0-10. This is a terrific indicator of general satisfaction and customer engagement; bonus points for pairing the score question with a few follow-up questions that investigate the context behind your customers’ score.

Read more → our complete guide to Net Promoter Score

6. Customer Effort Score (CES) surveys

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Customer Effort Score (CES) is a measurement of how much effort a customer felt they had to put into an action or interaction with your business. Customers who find your product easy to use are more likely to continue using it and report overall satisfaction.

Read more → here is our complete overview of Customer Effort Score

7. Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) surveys

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Customer satisfaction surveys are brief polls designed to measure customer satisfaction with a product or service in a single specific moment, usually by ranking their satisfaction or through a binary choice (happy face/sad face). CSAT scores are usually high, so a sudden negative dip is an indicator that something has gone wrong; they’re useful for pinpointing specific problem areas or issues within your website.

Read more → here is our complete overview of Customer satisfaction surveys

8. Customer contact/service

Reading through old customer support tickets or service emails can help you see what time-sensitive problems or complaints your customers have dealt with recently. This is great feedback for pinpointing pressing issues or recurring problems that can affect customer happiness.

Practical example from my experience at Hotjar: when users reached out to support looking for a feature/functionality we didn’t have, we sent them to our feature request tool where they would submit the request themselves. After reviewing several negative CSAT ratings, we learned that this process was incredibly frustrating for our users. Solution: instead of sending them to another tool, we now submit the request on their behalf.

9. Usability testing

Usability testing is a method of testing a website’s functionality and ease of use by observing users as they attempt to navigate it. There are many different methods of testing you can employ, but the end goal is gathering user and customer feedback that helps you build a functional and efficient user experience.

Read more → our starter’s guide to Usability testing

10. Social channels

Many customers consider your social media channels a direct line of communication to your brand. Monitor Twitter, LinkedIn, and any other social media platforms for complaints, issues, and compliments.

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11. Live chat

A live chat function on your website can help you close sales, assist with troubleshooting, and act as a forum for user feedback. Review live chat transcripts to collect data about customers’ experiences and issues.

Read more → here is a practical example of how reviewing live chat transcripts can help optimize a landing page

12. Reviews

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Reviews left by customers, either on your own site or on third-party sites, are another place to look for constructive feedback. Customers are likely to be very honest when writing for other potential customers, and you may learn something new that didn’t surface when you were collecting internal feedback.

13. Unscripted interviews

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Interviews are more labor-intensive than an on-site survey, but they also provide an opportunity to dig deeply into a customer’s beliefs and ideas. Sit down with some of your ideal potential customers (or invite them for a virtual cup of coffee) to learn more about their motivations, or spend time talking to long-term customers to learn about their experiences and views on your brand.

6 follow-up actions for customer feedback

You can collect mountains of feedback, but it’s all useless unless you find a way to respond or use that feedback to improve your customers’ experience.

1. Identify areas that need to be fixed or improved

Use customer feedback to highlight areas of your site, services, or products that need improvement. Make a list of issues and prioritize them in order of urgency. Tackle the ones that will have a large impact on customer experience first, then work on smallermicro- and macro-level issues.

2. Listen to customers’ suggestions

Instead of just using feedback to create a laundry list of issues, listen to your customers’ suggestions on how to fix or improve things. You don’t need to execute on all of their advice, but hearing their suggestions could lead to better features or outside-the-box solutions.

3. Share the good and bad feedback with internal teams

The more people who are involved in reading and addressing customer feedback, the better. Make sure that the appropriate teams have a chance to review both positive and negative feedback about their work.

4. Follow up with your customers

Many customers don’t bother to leave feedback because they think that companies either don’t care or won’t address their concerns. If you find a piece of customer feedback particularly helpful, follow up and thank them for their advice. Or respond to a customer who presents a serious concern with assurances that you’re working to fix their issue. This increases your credibility and strengthens the relationship.

5. Share with the community

Another way to bolster your reputation and enhance your relationship with your customers is to publicly respond to concerns either in release notes or on social media. Let the community around your product know what you are doing, how you’re improving, and why you appreciate their feedback.

Keep track of the trajectory of your customer feedback over time. Ideally, you want to see an increase in satisfaction over time as issues are identified and addressed. Take note of negative spikes and drill down to find out the underlying causes.

How to start collecting customer feedback with Hotjar

If you’re ready to get started, Hotjar has the tools to help you plan, implement, and analyze customer feedback.

Incoming Feedback

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Hotjar’s Incoming Feedback feature helps you get instant visual feedback on any page of your website. Your customers can rate their satisfaction using visual icons, then provide follow-up comments or suggestions.

These micro-polls can give you an insight into what people love, or hate, about your site, and measure changes in performance over time.

Feedback polls/on-page surveys

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Customizable feedback polls can be used on any page you choose to gather information from customers about their experiences with your website, products, or services. Ask open-ended questions or scaled questions, like an NPS poll, with follow-up paths based on the user’s answers. You can also hyper-target questions to users based on their demographic information or how long they’ve spent on your page.

Surveys

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Our survey editor tool makes it simple to build your own surveys using open-ended, multiple-choice, or scaled questions; you can then distribute your surveys via email, web links, or through a pop-up on the site, and read the answers directly inside the Hotjar dashboard.

Ask for feedback on your website today 🔥

Grab a free Hotjar trial, start collecting feedback on your website, and answer burning questions such as: why is my website not converting? Why are visitors leaving without buying? How can I improve?

Free forever. Get started!
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Use feedback to maintain, and improve, your relationship with customers

Collecting customer feedback should be a part of every business’s operations. Building a customer-centric business, one that truly strives to support and help customers means routinely asking for and evaluating feedback from your customers.
Help them help you to be the best.

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Diana De Jesus

Customer Support Lead at Hotjar - Diana is passionate about helping customers get value out of using Hotjar.