8 Ways To Collect Customer Feedback

What's the best way to know what kind of experience you're providing your customers? Well, the easiest and most straightforward approach is simply to ask them. In most cases, your customers will be more than happy to tell you what you can improve and, hopefully, what you&'re doing well.

Here are eight creative ways to find out how your customers feel about you.

1. Set up a feedback system.

Create a feedback system and market it to your customers. Use social media channels; posters around your offices, stores, or other brick-and-mortar locations; notes in your employees' email signatures; and even messages on your organization's receipts or invoices. To get the most out of the mailbox, you will want to treat it like a two-way communication tool. Always respond to your customers and thank them for sharing their opinions, feedback, and thoughts.

2. Measure sentiment analysis.

Conduct sentiment analysis, which means collecting conversation data from the services and analyze keywords and phrases to understand the consensus your customers have about their experiences with your organization. Companies can use sentiment analysis to measure their success on social media, for example. Another way to gain insight into your customers' sentiment is to run support ticket email conversations through a free word cloud tool to create a visual representation of what you and your customers are saying to each other.

3. Appoint a customer satisfaction manager.

If there isn't a specific person who ensures receiving and keeping a record of customer feedback is the top priority, appoint a customer satisfaction manager. This means someone is focused purely on customer satisfaction and the overall user experience and makes it much more likely you'll see results. Make sure that a person implements a formal process so you keep the feedback loop running.

While this employee takes the lead in handling customer feedback, make it known that every employee has a hand in ensuring the best possible experience for your customers. All employees, from the C-level to entry-level, should be operating with the same vision related to customer experience and the same goals in mind.

4. Broadcast surveys.

One of the oldest customer feedback tricks in the book is to build a simple survey and publish it as a form. You can send this form in an email message to every customer once or twice a year or to a select list of customers every month. Ensure that the survey is as user-friendly as possible. Try not to reach out to the same customers with the survey more than one or two times annually. (Take a look at these four steps to creating customer-centric customer satisfaction surveys.)

5. Use an "in-the-moment" approach.

Apart from sending out full surveys regularly, you can also ask for feedback with embedded feedback tools. You might call these "pulse surveys," since you're getting a sense of what your customers are thinking about a particular topic at a specific moment in time. Embedded feedback tools allow your customers to rate their experience with your services while it's still fresh in their minds. Make collecting and responding quick and easy.

6. Pay courtesy calls.

Want to gain valuable feedback from customers who know your organization well? Find out who your most frequent and loyal customers are and make sure you're asking them for their opinions. Also, seek out customers who aren't as faithful or who have given negative feedback. Digging deep into those bad reviews will go a long way in helping you understand your customers better.

7. Create opportunities for feedback.

Connecting with customers face to face is usually the most effective way to get their input. If you're looking to facilitate giving feedback, create regular workshops or lunch-and-learn sessions with a variety of customers. Invite a small group of representative customers so that all input is heard and you receive the most representative feedback possible.

8. Be transparent and share improvements.

Sharing your feedback reports with customers is a great way to demonstrate that your organization values their feedback and doesn't shy away from being open about what you need to improve. When you show your customers that you use their feedback to improve your services, they'll keep you in the know.

Ruben Franzen is president of TOPdesk US, a provider of enterprise service management solutions based in Orlando, Fla.