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A comprehensive guide to customer feedback: what it is and ways to collect it
Collecting customer feedback is like a treasure hunt—your treasure could be right in front of you, but if you don’t know exactly where to look, you’ll never find it.
That’s why you need to use different methods for collecting customer feedback, and understand the feedback strategies and channels that bring you and your customers the most value. But the sheer number of channels and customer types makes it hard to pinpoint exactly which feedback collection methods work best for your needs.
Use this guide to understand what customer feedback is and how to collect it. We’ll look at different types of feedback and give you actionable tips to inform your customer feedback strategy and improve the customer experience (CX).
What is customer feedback and why is it important?
Customer feedback is any form of input or insight your customers have about your product or service. Collecting customer feedback shows customers that you value their opinion and business—and are proactive about improving their experience.
Asking for customer feedback and implementing suggestions helps you:
Understand what drives customers to your site: learn why users came to you, what stopped some from becoming customers, and what persuaded others to buy from you
Identify future customer frustrations and blockers: create a feedback loop and automate the way you gather feedback to drive continuous insights collection and make improvements
Improve customer support: let customers tell you what they thought of their interaction with your support team, and work with team members to improve this key touchpoint
When done right, customer feedback feeds into the way you do things so that you can improve. It's not just a nuisance you need to do because your business needs to appear responsive. Rather, it's something that helps you figure out the external viewpoint. The point is to allow for the customer feedback process to turn into a virtuous cycle where each piece of knowledge will inform your steps, goals, and strategies.
Remember, there are two main types of customer feedback you can collect:
Solicited customer feedback that you directly request from your customers. Use this type of feedback to ask pointed questions about specific product features, bugs, or updates—and put your customer at the center of your product improvements.
Unsolicited customer feedback that comes indirectly from your customers without prior request. Find this customer feedback on review websites and social media channels to gauge customer sentiments and satisfaction in the wild, and spot important product fixes or updates.
6 ways to collect customer feedback and spark engagement
Use the collection methods below to get essential customer insights and inform your customer feedback strategy. Prioritize feedback by grouping and addressing comments that are immediately actionable and will have the biggest impact on your customers' experience. Then, move on to feedback that might take longer to implement.
For example, if most of your customers request more self-service options on your website, prioritize this to immediately improve customer satisfaction—and return later to more specific feedback from just a handful of customers.
1. Focus groups and user interviews
Conducting face-to-face interviews and focus groups is a great way to create a following of devoted customers and deliver customer-centered service. By creating an intimate forum to collect customer opinions, you discover the true value of your product in their eyes and develop realistic action plans to better meet their needs.
How to collect feedback from focus groups and interviews:
Segment your customers: organize customers by geographic location, role, or industry for insights based on the experience, drivers, and needs of specific user personas
Strategically choose your questions and prompts: ask targeted, open-ended questions for more actionable, focused feedback. For example, if you’re hosting a focus group centered on the launch of a new product feature, ask your customers how they use it, what it helps them achieve, and what they like or dislike about it.
Stay on topic: while letting the conversation flow naturally can help shed light on interesting insights, it’s important not to go overboard and miss getting the answers you need
Spot patterns in customer input: group and analyze popular themes or topics in your feedback. Then, use your insights to prioritize your product backlog and make changes to create customer delight.
💡Pro tip: use Hotjar Engage to gather customer feedback by recruiting users, then hosting, recording, and transcribing your calls with them.
Involve your team in the user testing process by sharing your time-stamped notes and turn the insights into a product development plan.
Use on-site customer feedback surveys after customers interact with key touchpoints, complete certain actions, or send email surveys. Insights from respondents help you know exactly what to prioritize and improve, gauge customer satisfaction over time to get a broader view of how your product is performing, and more. Automate surveys to create a continuous customer feedback loop.
So, which types of surveys can you use to get actionable customer feedback?
Customer satisfaction (CSAT) survey: use customer satisfaction surveys to better understand specific touchpoints and micro-experiences throughout the customer journey by asking customers to rate their experience, and provide a reason for their customer satisfaction score
NPS survey to get your Net Promoter Score®: ask customers to rate their likelihood of recommending your product or service on a scale of 1–10, happy or sad, or any metric you like, for insights into long-term customer satisfaction. Use customer feedback from detractors to gain insights into major pain points.
Customer effort score (CES) survey: gauge how easy it is for your customers to use your product or service
Exit-intent survey: ask customers why they’re leaving a specific webpage. For example, your ecommerce company might place timed exit-intent surveys on key conversion pages like checkout, to determine any issues in the checkout experience.
Product-market fit survey: determine how your target customers perceive and use your product, and whether it stacks up to competitors
💡Pro tip: our survey templates let you add, remove, or modify survey questions. Further customize your surveys by choosing whether to display them as pop-ups, screen takeovers, or after users click on a button. Targeting and behavior options ensure you’ll show your surveys to the users you want (new customers, returning users, etc.) inthe way you want them to (show only once, show after a delay, etc.).
3. Feedback forms and widgets
Feedback forms and widgets let you gather quick insights into customer sentiments and frustrations at pivotal moments throughout their journey.
Placing these unobtrusive customer feedback tools throughout crucial customer interactions—like onboarding, sign-up, or checkout—gives you actionable feedback as customers navigate your website or product in the wild.
Here’s how to collect feedback with forms and widgets, so you can spot bumps in the customer experience and better understand your customers:
Place feedback widgets and forms on key web pages or crucial touchpoints in your digital product to get instant feedback on potential product and website improvements. See exactly where customers encounter problems as they highlight snippets of your web page or product experience (PX).
Compare customer feedback across your web pages to determine weak or underperforming areas of your website. If you’re using the Hotjar Dashboard, you can easily compare your feedback score on key pages, so you know which pages need more attention.
💡 Pro tip: supercharge your customer feedback by watching Hotjar Recordings of user sessions on your website. Segment your recordings by key actions, like users filling out a feedback form, so you see exactly what’s adding to—or subtracting from—the customer experience.
4. Customer service
Using and analyzing customer service interactions as a source of feedback gives you key insights into common issues customers face, and ideas to improve the customer and product experience.
Use your customer service channels and customer feedback software to collect and sort feedback based on categories like product improvements, self-service resources, bug fixes, product design, or product usability.
Group customer service feedback by volume and category to better prioritize product updates and potential feature rollouts. Here’s how:
Use chatbots like Livechat for insight into common customer experiences, issues, or resource requests—and keep your finger on the pulse of how customers are feeling and thinking
Use customer service automation tools like Freshdesk to spot patterns in customer service tickets and bug reports—and proactively respond to and meet customer needs. For example, your SaaS startup might review customer service tickets after a new product rollout to spot any immediate issues that might negatively impact the customer experience.
Leverage customer service phone calls with tools like Dialpad to get an overview of customer product usage and adoption
💡 Pro tip: use the Hotjar x Slack integration to easily share customer feedback across teams. Keep sales, marketing, product, customer success, and leadership teams in the loop and embrace cross-functional collaboration for deeper insights and learnings.
The Hotjar x Slack integration keeps your teams on the same page with incoming customer feedback. Source: Hotjar
5. Social media and online reviews
Social media and online reviews are examples of unsolicited customer feedback that give you unfiltered insights into popular customer sentiments, problems, and experiences.
Since customers speak more openly on social media and review sites, use this type of feedback for a more holistic understanding of your product experience—and gain direct visibility into common customer demands and needs.
How to get customer feedback from social media and online reviews:
Use sentiment analysis and social listening tools like Hootsuite to track mentions of your product across social media channels. Learn what customers think and understand how your product makes them feel to make customer-centered product decisions and improvements.
Check out review sites like Capterra, G2, Trustpilot, and TrustRadius for product reviews and competitor analysis, and see if your product meets market and customer needs. For example, after noticing your competitor has a highly rated feature, your product team might add it to their product backlog for future consideration and development.
6. Sales calls
Using sales calls as a source of customer feedback supports a cross-functional, collaborative approach to understanding your customers. Sales calls tell you about market demand—and what customers think about your product experience, features, and usability.
Monitoring and analyzing sales calls also give you direct insight into how customers talk about your product and the specific problems it helps them solve—so you can better communicate with them in their own language (and use it to inform your website and marketing copy).
How to collect customer feedback from sales calls:
Transcribe sales calls with tools like Salesloft to help you understand the content of important calls and reveal customer insights—and use them to spot patterns in the customer journey and experience
Analyze sales calls with revenue intelligence tools like Gong to track and analyze customer-facing interactions and better identify customer pain points, so you know exactly how to meet customer needs
Level up your customer feedback with PX insights
How and where you collect customer feedback often determines its quality and relevance. Proactively collecting feedback through diverse channels—and using it to engage and respond to customers—helps you create a delightful experience that increases your ability to retain them.
And, when you combine customer feedback with product experience insights, you get access to the reasons behind their feedback—both positive and negative—so you know exactly what’s working, or what needs improvement.