The Art of Eliciting Actionable Customer Feedback


Many customers are willing to freely express their opinions about companies. Although the unprompted feedback they leave on public platforms and social media is a source of valuable information, it is not enough to fuel a robust customer-centric approach. If you truly want to hear your customers' opinions, you need to adopt a systematic approach tying spontaneous feedback to solicited feedback. By fostering both forms of feedback, you will develop a more complete vision and gather precise and actionable data, which will enable you to:

▪ Closely track the satisfaction level of your customers and prospects,

▪ Understand the reasons behind their satisfaction or dissatisfaction,

▪ Identify what you need to improve to reduce dissatisfaction and meet their expectations,

▪Implement solutions that will improve the customer experience you offer and that will consequently translate not only into greater customer satisfaction, but also their loyalty and the reflex to give you a good recommendation.

Understanding different kinds of feedback

The categories of feedback you will choose to foster will depend upon your methods of distribution, the specifics of your operations, your organization, and above all, the objectives you are targeting by engaging in a customer-centric approach. To successfully implement your data collection strategy, it is important to start with an idea of the different types of feedback and the people with whom you should share the information it will enable you to gather.

▪ Product feedback is a relevant option if you are trying to optimize your offerings and reassure buyers. By making this feedback (both ratings and comments) public on your e-commerce site, you are giving potential buyers qualitative information to help them assess your products, including user experience stories that will help them form an opinion and make an informed decision. Internally, the information collected via product feedback is mainly addressed to headquarters functions, especially including teams that develop products and/or purchasers and category managers who manage collections and providers.

▪ Customer experience feedback enables you to measure what your customers feel and experience at different points in their path towards information or purchase, both online and in store. This feedback is gathered at convenient times and represents a source of invaluable information, both for points of sale and headquarter teams. Typically, Web and Digital teams will extract fantastic learnings that will make navigation more fluid and simplify key moments, such as shopping cart validation and payment. In a physical network, it is thanks to this type of feedback that store managers are able to not only personally contact customers who have expressed dissatisfaction, but also accurately identify actions they can take locally—in terms of accessibility, reception and guidance, store layout, selection and product presentation, etc.—to keep the brand's promises and and give customers every reason to return.

▪    Customer service feedback is indispensable for ensuring that every request made by a customer receives a satisfactory response in the timeliest manner, irrespective of the reason for the request or the channel of contact used by the customer. This kind of feedback mainly concerns customer service representatives who process customer requests and the quality of their service, but it is also a very important resource for identifying shortfalls and improving a process that, without a doubt, involves other departments as well—Logistics, Shipping, Quality, Marketing, Web and Digital—all of which contribute to the overall quality of the customer experience. In other words, feedback requested after contact with Customer Service is not only the means for evaluating satisfaction with respect to Customer Service itself, but also for improving the operational management of the Customer Service department and discovering the cause of recurring or one-time dissatisfaction reported by customers—with the goal of permanently resolving it.

The right questions at the right time

For the feedback gathered to be truly actionable, you need to give your customers a way to effortlessly communicate precise information that makes sense to them and is easily useable by the affected teams. This is the whole reason for the existence of spot surveys that you will make available or send to them at different stages throughout their experience in order to enable them to express what they have felt.

When it comes to making them want to answer these surveys, the golden rule is to avoid asking them questions on every topic each time, but rather to focus questions on subjects related directly to the final sequence of their experience. For instance, if your brand offers click-and-collect, it is not after customers have picked up their packages—but just after they have confirmed their order—that you should ask them if it was easy to find the most convenient pickup location via the site. The post-pickup survey should focus on the way they were notified that their order was available, the ease of finding the click-and-collect location within the store, and the quality of the reception at the store.

Since single-channel experiences hardly exist these days, the greatest difficulty arises from covering every possible scenario. The most efficient method for knowing the best time to survey your clients on all the most important subjects for your brand consists of breaking down the whole experience and laying out all the options that the customer can choose at each step. To be complete, this mapping must capture every contact channel, sales channel, and delivery method. Once the mapping is established, you can easily identify the key moments and pain points you already know—those which you would like to address as a priority and which will determine the questions you will ask. This will help you avoid the trap of surveys that are too long and discourage customers from taking them, or too generic to be of any use to your teams.

If surveying customers at the right time and on the right topics is a primary condition of a successful customer-centric approach, then customizing your survey and formulating good questions are also major factors. Anything indicating that the survey is addressing customers personally must appear prominently on the survey—for example, the name of the store where they made their purchase or the reason why they contacted Customer Service. There must not be many questions (only 4 or 5), and they must be short, easy to understand and presented in chronological order to enable customers to remember what they have experienced. By asking customers to rate their satisfaction—typically on a scale of 1 to 5—on topics that retrace their experience step by step, you will encourage them to respond, on one hand, because they feel truly impacted by the questions presented and, on the other hand, because they believe it will not take too much of their time. Moreover, you will create the right setting for them to leave more insightful comments at the end of their survey, enabling you to properly contextualize, and thus, to explain, the recommendation rating that will factor into the NPS you will tie to this specific experience.

3 quick tips for optimal results…

If you offer them the option of expressing their opinion at the right time, and through questions that are relevant to them, your clients will be happy to offer feedback. For them to continue doing so and for their feedback to help you continuously improve upon what is important to them:

1/ Never forget to thank them.

2/Always respond personally to customers who have taken the time to offer relevant feedback about their experience, good or bad.          

3/Control marketing pressure by not asking for feedback about the same experience several times. Don’t drown them in surveys! By having an omni-channel feedback management platform coupled with your CRM, you will be able to better balance the volume of survey requests addressed to each customer.

By putting these three tips into practice, you will prove to your customers that you truly care what they think and that you are doing everything possible to earn their trust, their involvement and their loyalty.

EN-CTA-RFP template

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