Role of Customer Feedback in Customer Success

What is Customer Feedback? Why is it important?

Customer Feedback, is simply, the response that your customer provides when asked a question. SaaS businesses depend heavily on this tool to provide an amazing customer experience. 

Brian Halligan, CEO of HubSpot, says “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” Basically, without a proper feedback system, firms are bound to fail. It’s because they have no idea if the customer is happy using their product or not. You can’t improve your product features until you know what’s really working and what is not. 

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Customer Feedback improves customer experience. A SaaS business grows mainly by word-of-mouth publicity. Customer Loyalty and relationship marketing create a special bond between the customer and the brand which translates into renewed business. 

Do you have your doubts? Look at the following stats:

  • It is 5x-25x costlier to acquire a new customer than to keep the existing one satisfied. 
  • Over 50% of customers believe their experience is more important than price when making a purchasing decision.
  • Around 80% of consumers prefer doing business with a competitor after facing a poor customer experience.

It’s now clear that customer feedback is an important weapon in a SaaS business’s arsenal. Now, let’s try and understand what role does it play in the Customer Success function. 

Types of Customer Feedback

Before we jump into its role, it’s important to know about different types of Customer Feedback. There are usually 4 types of feedback. 

  • Feedback about trends. You’d want to know if a customer is satisfied with the product over time. To identify trends, you need to have a benchmark. Start by asking the customers how happy they are today. Then, the same question can be asked at regular intervals to identify the overall customer satisfaction trend. The same logic naturally applies to different types of trends. Examples include Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), etc. 
  • Product Feedback. In this type of feedback, you’re essentially trying to get customers’ opinions on improving certain product features. You’d want to know if there are any bugs in the product that hinders product adoption in any manner. 
  • Feedback on service issues. This feedback is solicited to identify if there’s any roadblock that frustrates customers. Every company tries to provide an amazing quality service. But they won’t know if their customers are getting the desired service until customers are asked about it. So, such questions need to be asked at regular intervals to identify the scope of the service. 
  • Reviews. This is a great way to let the customers publicize your product on public platforms. This kind of feedback is given when the customer is either happy (positive review) or frustrated (negative review). Keep a tab on your customers. If you see any red flags, jump into fighting mode and ensure all the existing issues are solved. Once done, you can ask them to give reviews about the product/service and appreciate them for their time and effort.

What is the role of Customer Feedback in Customer Success?

Customer Success is a ‘proactive’ function. It means that the Customer Success Managers (CSMs) would approach the customer to identify any potential problems in his/her journey with the business. They don’t wait for the customers to come back and report their concerns. 

A Customer Success (CS) team plays a critical role in reducing churn and improving customer retention. It is able to do so only because it can identify any warning signs that the customer exhibits before actually churning out. These can be given by data but mostly it is the feedback process that ensures timely intervention to weed out any problem in the customer journey.

The CS team is fully committed to providing the best customer experience, right from the start of the customer journey. CS teams collate all touchpoints and interactions and try to identify the level of customer experience. Leveraging data and actionable insights are used to continuously improve the same.

This would mean that the Customer Success (CS) teams are responsible to provide the best possible customer experience, right? Unfortunately, sometimes CS falls into a reactive state. In the initial days, Customer Success was all about resolving customer issues and putting out customer fires. However, the scene has changed. 

Modern SaaS firms think about customer success in terms of customer growth. It isn’t simply enough to react to customer complaints when they arise. Otherwise, you’d have no idea as to what went wrong until the customer switches to your competitor’s product. 

It’s vital for you to know what the customer feels about the product and the journey that s/he has undertaken so far. How do you know that? You ask them, obviously! This is where the role of customer feedback comes into play. You can plan beforehand to collect customer feedback at every step of the journey. This ensures an optimal customer experience. It would also help in catching risks before it’s too late.

Pointers to consider in your Customer Feedback Loop.

A customer feedback loop is a system that makes the process of collecting customer feedback easier. The ACAF Customer Feedback Loop framework is designed to help firms gather and implement feedback from customers strategically. It stands for 

A- Ask for feedback

C– Categorize the feedback

A– Act on the feedback

F– Follow up with customers who shared the feedback

Asking for Feedback is not as simple and easy as it sounds. As mentioned earlier, you can ask the customer to give you feedback for various reasons. The questions that you ask depend on the goals you’ve set for your business. Ask for relevant feedback. 

The next step is to categorize the feedback received.  Here, you can segment the received feedback into different criteria. Businesses typically categorize feedback into either product feedback, service quality feedback, or feedback on trends. You need to know the goal for which you’ve asked customers to respond. Then, categorize accordingly.

Once you know which feedback is relevant to your business, take the next action. If there’s a concern raised by the customer about the product feature, work on improving the same. Acting on the feedback received is as important as the feedback itself. 

The last process in the feedback loop is to follow up with the customers who provided their valuable feedback. It is to show that you care about them and their feedback matters. 

Now, there are some important attributes that need to be considered by a CSM while framing the feedback loop or the system. 

  • It’s better to plan ahead how are you going to ask for feedback. Are you planning to conduct a planned survey? Or is it going to be just an informal conversation between the customer and your CSM?
  • Is it important to gather feedback only from the ‘enterprise’ customers? Or do you want to include every customer in the process? Understanding the scope of feedback is not easy yet vital to your business.
  • Identify the goal that you want to achieve by collecting feedback. Do you want to include them in product improvement plans? Do you want to gauge any product/service issues?
  • Ensure your Customer Success team is on board. They must be aware of the potential impact that the collection of feedback will have. Since the CSMs are the point of contact for their customers, chances are the customers might be more open to sharing feedback with them.
  • Another crucial point to consider is that customer feedback is documented properly. All of your CSMs should be sharing and documenting customer feedback. 
  • State clearly how are you going to use the feedback. Transparency is critical. Your customers should know how their views and concerns will be used. Depending upon the goal of the collated feedback, it can be used in myriad ways. If the customers are clear about the goal, they’ll be in a position to provide more detailed feedback.
  • Let customers know that they have been paid attention. Be transparent and honest about addressing their issue. Show them that their feedback has been duly considered. Direct, relevant, and actionable feedback from customers is pure gold. Ensure that you work on the received responses so that customers know you are actively listening to their concerns and issues.

How to Gather Relevant Customer Feedback?

Collecting feedback is critical to your business growth. It’s important that you gauge where do you land on the customer expectation spectrum. You should create a ‘customer feedback collection process’ in your customer journey. It is better to plan ahead to gather feedback that ensures the best customer experience possible. 

Customer Success teams can collaborate with the marketing team to gather feedback. The following are the different ways to collect relevant customer feedback. 

  • Customer feedback surveys. The feedback survey can be either a long-form survey or a short in-app survey. Depending upon the goal, the length and the complexity of the questions can vary. 
  • Customer Interviews. Conducting customer interviews is one of the most efficient ways to collect feedback. Reaching out to customers directly creates space for dialogues that otherwise wouldn’t find a place. These conversations can help a team understand the reason behind specific customer decisions. 
  • Connect via emails. This is the most obvious thing. Emails can be used as a powerful tool to open up conversations with customers. These are a great way to keep in touch with customers. 
  • Phone calls. The surveys will give you tons of data. Yet, they can never tell you what someone truly feels about the product. If you feel that you want to know more, pick up the phone and call! It is a proactive and personalized method that ensures the best responses.
  • Social Media. Yes, that goes without saying. Connecting with customers on different social media platforms gives you the power to access candid customer feedback. 

Final Thoughts on the role of Customer Feedback in Customer Success

Customer Success professionals are frontline warriors for product usage, testing, customer relationships, data analytics, etc. They know the product very well in the same way as they know their customers. They literally work in cross-functional teams and know what needs to be done to improve customer experience. Yet, they would have to ask customers what they feel about the product and the quality of service. That is why customer feedback is important. 

Gathering feedback, proactively, is crucial to determine who your strongest and weakest customers are. So you can build strong relationships, improve customer loyalty, and consequently increase business.  Check out CustomerSuccessBox, the software tool that gives AI-generated proactive recommendations to drive retention.

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