How customer feedback can supercharge your business growth Navigating customer feedback and engagement is an art. Here’s how it helps you to cultivate trust, grow your online presence, and build a community of brand advocates. Written by Stephanie Lennox Updated on 18 January 2024 Our experts We are a team of writers, experimenters and researchers providing you with the best advice with zero bias or partiality. Written and reviewed by: Stephanie Lennox Writer Amidst the challenges of running and growing a business, using customer feedback to guide strategy is underrated. It can enhance your understanding of customer needs, preferences, and pain points, and it also plays a vital role in boosting customer retention. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the practicalities of exploiting customer feedback. By the end, you’ll understand how these precious insights can help finetune your growth strategies, foster customer retention, and support the success of your business. In this article, we will cover: What is customer feedback? Why is customer feedback important for a business? The different types of customer feedback How to gather customer feedback How to analyse and act on customer feedback Why engaging customers through feedback matters Conclusion FAQs What is customer feedback?Customer feedback is garnered from reviews, ratings, and comments that can give a business an overview of each customer’s experience with a product or service, their satisfaction levels, and the areas that may need further improvement. Businesses can then use this information to adapt and enhance their offerings. Why is customer feedback important for a business?Customer feedback can ensure you're taking your business in the right direction and giving it the best chance at success. According to a report by Microsoft, a staggering 77% of consumers view brands more favourably if they actively seek and apply customer feedback. In essence, it's not just about fixing what's broken; it's about fostering a connection that keeps customers coming back.You can drive business improvement through insightsImagine a tech company in the UK that makes its software better with the help of user feedback. From its reviews, it realises the user interface needs to be smoother. The company makes improvements based on the input, not only fine-tuning its product but staying ahead of the competition.You can enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty, leading to better salesA boutique in London gathers feedback on its product offerings and acts on customer suggestions for in-store shopping experiences. Customers feel heard and valued which translates into increased sales, repeat buyers and brand advocates.You can gain a competitive edge in the UK marketA small hotel chain strategically utilises customer feedback to refine its services, providing tailored experiences based on guest preferences to distinguish it from the big hospitality players. This proactive approach not only sets them apart from competitors but also establishes a reputation for customer-centricity, attracting more discerning customers in the market. The different types of customer feedbackCustomer feedback comes in various forms, each providing unique insights into the customer experience. Direct feedback channelsDirect feedback is when customers share their thoughts directly through personal experience surveys, questionnaires, or customer service interactions. The pros: Apple's commitment to direct feedback channels goes beyond the conventional customer service surveys. Apple Store Genius Bars, for example, provides a hands-on space where customers can interact with Apple experts, troubleshoot issues and share real-time feedback on their device experiences. This direct, face-to-face interaction helps resolve immediate concerns and provides Apple with valuable insights into user frustrations, preferences, and common challenges. The cons: the advantage of this method lies in the clarity of information, but there are potential drawbacks. Customers may not always express their opinions in a way that is particularly valuable for the business, offering incoherent information or having to wade through a lot of unusable content.Indirect feedback channelsIndirect feedback channels include social media listening, online reviews, and testimonials.The pros: Airbnb leverages indirect feedback channels by harnessing the power of social media and customer reviews online. Through platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and review sites, Airbnb keeps a pulse on user sentiments, gauging reactions to specific features, accommodations, and overall experiences.The cons: These methods capture the spontaneous and authentic voice of the customer in real-time. However, the challenge here is the potential for a mix of positive and negative sentiments, and businesses need to wade through varying levels of detail and context.Quantitative and qualitative feedbackQuantitative and qualitative feedback involves numerical data, which can range from customer satisfaction scores and Net Promoter Scores (NPS) to website analytics and purchase patterns of different generations. The pros: Amazon integrates quantitative and qualitative feedback methods. Through its customer ratings (qualitative), Amazon gains in-depth insights into the nuanced preferences and experiences of its users – and it also uses metrics like order history, purchase patterns, and customer satisfaction scores (quantitative) to analyse broader trends to track the performance of products and services.The beauty of quantitative and qualitative feedback lies primarily in its ability to offer a quick snapshot of overall performance, helping businesses make data-driven decisions. The cons: On the flip side, the information is only capable of providing open-ended or number-based responses, reviews, and comments – so it doesn’t necessarily capture the nuances, sentiments, and detailed insights into customer preferences and pain points. Direct and indirect feedback channels can give a richer understanding of the “why” behind the data. How to gather customer feedbackWe'll delve into two key aspects of effective customer feedback gathering: surveys and customer testimonials.Designing effective feedback surveysCreating impactful feedback surveys requires finesse – it is the art of posing questions that extract meaningful insights. Targeted and specific questions ensure that the collected data directly addresses the aspects crucial for business improvement. Simultaneously, determining the optimal frequency of surveys strikes a balance between staying informed about customer experiences and preventing survey fatigue. Encouraging customer reviews and testimonialsThe power of customer reviews and testimonials cannot be overstated. Actively encouraging customers to share their experiences provides valuable social proof and it enriches the brand narrative. Businesses can use these strategies to amplify their online presence, build trust with potential customers, and cultivate a community of loyal advocates. How to analyse and act on customer feedbackTo kickstart this customer journey, businesses need to leverage data analytics tools like Google Analytics, Qualtrics, or Hotjar. These tools enable the extraction of meaningful insights from the collected feedback. Identifying trends and patterns within this data is pivotal; tools like Tableau or Power BI empower businesses to visualise and understand complex datasets, highlighting actionable trends that might not be apparent at first glance.Communication is also key in this process. Intercom or Zendesk, for example, keep customers informed about the changes being implemented based on their feedback.Finally, showcasing this responsiveness through feedback implementation is the best thing you can do with your data. Take Amazon as our previous example – it continuously adapts its services based on customer feedback, resulting in increased customer loyalty and market dominance. Why engaging customers through feedback mattersThe key to customer feedback is to make sure you’re proactive with the responses after you’ve gathered the information.Transforming negative feedback into positive outcomes is a skill that highlights your ability to bounce back, solve problems, and genuinely prioritise customer happiness. These efforts work together to build a customer-focused reputation, something incredibly valuable in today's market. It's about showing your customers that their satisfaction is at the core of what you do.Bottom line: the impact of not engaging with customers through feedback can be truly detrimental. Customers tell an average of nine people when they have a positive experience with a brand, but tell 16 people about a negative experience, according to Deloitte. In the digital age, where customer reviews and online reputations wield significant influence, a lack of engagement can lead to a tarnished brand image. The absence of engagement may also result in missed opportunities for improvement, hindering the long-term sustainability and growth of the business – and ignoring or neglecting customer feedback sends a message that their opinions don't matter, eroding trust and alienating valuable clientele. ConclusionCustomer feedback is crucial for businesses because it serves as a direct line to understanding customer satisfaction levels, preferences, and pain points. Through proactive collection of feedback and implementation, businesses can acquire valuable insights that bolster customer loyalty while helping to establish a foundation for long-term success. Frequently Asked Questions How often should businesses collect customer feedback? We recommend checking in with your customers regularly, but the frequency can vary based on your industry and customer interactions. Consider the nature of your product or service. It's about finding a balance that respects your customers' time while ensuring their voices are consistently heard. What are the best practices for responding to negative feedback? Negative feedback can be an opportunity to showcase your commitment to improvement. Respond promptly and demonstrate empathy, then outline the steps you're taking to address the issue. Transparency and genuine concern go a long way in rebuilding trust. How can businesses ensure the security and privacy of customer feedback data? Clearly communicate your privacy policies, detail how their feedback will be used, and assure your customers that the data will be handled with confidentiality. This will help build trust and ensure they feel secure in sharing their thoughts with you. Share this post facebook twitter linkedin Written by: Stephanie Lennox Writer Stephanie Lennox is the resident funding & finance expert at Startups: A successful startup founder in her own right, 2x bestselling author and business strategist, she covers everything from business grants and loans to venture capital and angel investing. With over 14 years of hands-on experience in the startup industry, Stephanie is passionate about how business owners can not only survive but thrive in the face of turbulent financial times and economic crises. With a background in media, publishing, finance and sales psychology, and an education at Oxford University, Stephanie has been featured on all things 'entrepreneur' in such prominent media outlets as The Bookseller, The Guardian, TimeOut, The Southbank Centre and ITV News, as well as several other national publications.