Customers aren’t merely the lifeblood of every business. They’re the heartbeat. Recognizing their worth isn’t just good practice; the fundamental truth underpins the success of all trades/businesses. It’s what makes customer feedback a fundamental pillar of success.
73% of consumers expect companies to understand their expectations and needs. That understanding can only be built with customer feedback.
But what exactly is customer feedback, and how is it so important? Let’s dive into it.
Customer feedback is the data or information customers provide about their experience with a service or product. It reveals how satisfied they are with a product and allows development teams to understand where there is room for improvement.
A customer’s feedback or a bad review will enable you to acknowledge where you or your product is lacking. And that is your cue to fix that issue and return better and stronger.
Customer Feedback in Product Improvement
Organizations have to face constant challenges to stay ahead of the competition. Customer feedback definitely helps to improve your software product.
Customer feedback is often an undervalued key performance indicator that provides immense ideas. It ensures your product aligns with the current and future needs of the people who’ll be using it.
With this feedback, you get a complete analysis of your products and services that indicate your strengths and weaknesses. It’s like conducting a free SWOT analysis that helps product managers understand how well a product performs and how it can be improved.
When you start listening to your customers, you pay attention to the minor details. You also save valuable time and resources that would’ve otherwise been spent on developing disappointing products for the end user.
Need help with customer feedback and product improvement? At Iterators we can help design, build, and maintain custom software solutions for both startups and enterprise businesses.
Schedule a free consultation with Iterators today. We’d be happy to help you find the right software solution to help your company.
How to Collect Customer Feedback
You need to have a clear intention for collecting customer feedback. Why are you seeking it? What specific issue in your software product are you looking to target? This will help you decide which customer feedback best fits your goals and expectations and make the process effective.
But how can you collect customer feedback? Here are six effective methods you can try:
1. Customer Feedback Surveys
Customer feedback surveys will enable you to ask your customers as many questions as you want about the software product and what they expect.
Here are some questions that you can include in your feedback survey:
- Did the product meet your expectations?
- Which product features did you find the most useful?
- How likely are you to recommend the product to others?
- Did you find the software easy to navigate?
- Was the user interface easy to use?
- What important features does the product miss?
You can design surveys with rating-based questions. They’ll be quick to analyze and gain insights into how you can improve your software product and its features.
2. Email and Customer Contact Forms
Email is the way to go if you’re looking to gather candid customer feedback. You can use it to inform your customers that they can anticipate your response.
Aside from that, email ensures no helpful insight slips through the cracks. However, to get this benefit, you should organize your email feedback to ensure all data is collected. Tools like Trello can be handy here because they help you create “boards” that your whole team can access.
Tools like Qualaroo make it easier to get real-time feedback. That means you get feedback from the user while the customer is using the software.
3. User Tests
User testing helps you identify whether or not your customers can use your product. User testing helps to avoid software failures, attacks, and glitches and provides quality assurance.
Plus, you can use user testing to improve your design details, add new features, or detect an issue early on — and prepare the software product ready for launch.
4. Customer Interviews
Customer interviews provide you with qualitative data that helps you understand your customer’s experience. Here are some tips to get the most out of these interviews:
- Open-ended Dialogue – Open-ended questions get the job done when personally interacting with someone. These questions will allow your customers to dig into detail about their experience with your software products.
- Ask Specific and Nuanced Questions – While open-ended dialogue is a good way to start, you must get more detailed as the dialogue evolves. Ask questions about minute aspects of your product and include follow-up questions.
- Active Listening – Active listening is listening to another person to improve mutual understanding. It goes beyond simply hearing the words. It helps you understand the meaning and intent behind every word.
5. Tracking On-site User Activity
User activity tracking (UAT) helps you to track website visitors and their activity, including what they’re clicking on, where they’re spending most of the time, and which part they scroll past.
Google Analytics is the perfect tool for this. However, if you want a user behavior analysis along with your user activity data, Cux.io can help you out. All you need to do is connect Cux.io with your website by implementing the CUX code in the page code, and you’re good to go.
Click on the “Visits” section to view recordings of user activities or open “Heatmaps” to see user behavior.
For instance, you can view the number of people visiting each blog article on your website. If the average time of one of the articles is 0:11 with a particularly low bounce rate, you’ll know there is something you need to work on.
6. Website Feedback Widgets
If your customer wants to report a bug in your product, use website feedback widgets to get opinions from your users on product offerings, ease of navigation, product management, or purchase experience.
Tools like Marker.io allow your customers to capture what they see, add visual comments, and send you that feedback in just a couple of clicks.
Tools and Technologies For Analyzing Customer Feedback Data
Now that you’ve collected the customer feedback data, what is there left to do? Let us walk you through it. You have yet to analyze it and turn it into actionable insights.
Let’s explore some of the latest technology and tools for customer feedback analysis:
1. Text Analytics
If you opted for a customer feedback review, survey, email, or an unstructured interview, text analytics will help you identify customer suggestions, concerns, complaints, and praises, along with their preferences and emotions.
For a software product, its performance is the most important goal of a software company. You need to test it during development. Text analytics helps you get incredible insights.
For instance, Google’s Natural Language AI drives insights from unstructured text with machine learning.
You can use the tool to find and level files within emails, social media, or chats. Then, sentiment analysis helps to understand customer opinions.
It also helps to classify content for better customer recommendations.
2. Voice Analytics
You can use voice analytics to understand users’ tone, mood, and intent. Voice analytics also use NLP (Natural Language Processing) and speech recognition to transcribe, categorize, and score customer conversations.
3. Feedback Management
Feedback management tools use a combination of tools and technologies to collect, analyze, and respond to customer feedback. They allow you to listen to the demands and concerns of your users, understand what they need, and deliver value and satisfaction.
For instance, you can use feedback management tools like Qualtrics to integrate and automate feedback collection and analysis processes. They also enable you to generate and execute feedback action plans.
Using Customer Feedback for Product Enhancement
Feedback is an invaluable asset in the realm of software development. It can help you discover your product’s strengths and weaknesses. Let’s understand how it can help you do that.
1. Define Your Goals
The goals for your software project are broad and define what the business seeks to achieve with the project.
These goals are often qualitative, like improving customer satisfaction. Objectives backup these goals. They’re specific and measurable that help achieve these goals. For instance, an objective can be to reduce an app’s loading time by 30% in the next two months.
To define these goals, you need to have:
- An understanding of the stakeholders and what their interests are with the project.
- SMART objects that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
- Required data gathered from all stakeholders.
- Alignment for all goals with the business strategy.
2. Organize Your Feedback
Organize your gathered feedback to filter out the irrelevant data.
For a software product, you need to collect feedback at various touchpoints. These include taking feedback when a new feature is released, the onboarding process, or when a user cancels their subscription.
This feedback needs to be organized. To categorize customers into:
- New customers
- Active customers
- Inactive customers
- Churned customers
When you have proper feedback on your software product, you can take action and close the feedback loop.
3. Communicate Your Feedback
Once the data is validated, filtered, and ready, communicate it to your team, users, customers, and stakeholders. Use charts, graphs, diagrams, and dashboards to visualize the data and summarize the key findings.
Moreover, you can also solicit more feedback by asking for further clarification and suggestions.
4. Iterate Your Feedback
To encourage continuous improvement and development, iterate the feedback periodically. Use the following frameworks to rank feedback based on urgency:
- PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act)
- MoSCoW (Must, Should, Could, Won’t)
- Kano (Basic, Performance, Excitement)
These frameworks will help your software development teams implement the feedback and check the results and effects accordingly.
Success Stories of Companies Using Customer Feedback
Companies all across the world leverage customer feedback for success. Let’s look at some examples:
Adobe used its Creative Cloud suite to collect customer feedback.
Most users found the features in Creative Cloud suit to be unintuitive. They also complained about slow performance in specific features. The feedback was used to improve user experience to achieve a 20% increase in customer satisfaction.
Sprint used Adobe Analytics, Adobe Target, and Adobe Customer Solutions to gather customer feedback and take their digital capabilities to the next level.
Users complained how the website was difficult to navigate.
They gleaned insights from behavioral data across web experiences to boost their program sales by 29% and online customer satisfaction by 90%.
Salesforce is a prominent customer relationship management (CRM) platform. It incorporated user feedback on how they faced challenges in setting up the platform.
The feedback helps to introduce guided tutorials into its product development to reduce customer support cases by 25%.
How to Engage Customers in the Feedback Process
To collect essential customer feedback, it’s crucial to engage them in the process. Let’s discuss how you can do that.
1. Be Proactive
Most customers don’t prioritize leaving feedback.
And for software projects, proactivity is important during the development stage.
- You need to involve users from the early development stages and conduct usability testing to understand what users expect from the final product.
- You can use regular sprint reviews to gather feedback from stakeholders and potential users.
- Regularly conducting surveys as you attain each milestone is also a great approach.
- You can introduce a beta testing program where you allow users to try out some features before the official release.
2. Be Consistent
Automate the process of collecting feedback to reduce the burden on your support team. It’ll also ensure that all kinds of feedback is collected — negative and positive.
- You have to diversify your feedback channels and automate feedback collection methods.
- You can also implement certain metrics to measure how satisfied customers are with features and usability of the product.
- You can then categorize feedback depending on the usability, performance, features, or any other parameter.
- Use the feedback to implement an iterative development process.
3. Connect with the Customers
When you receive feedback, always remember to close the loop, and update your customers. You can even send them email digests or make your product development roadmap public so that people are notified of any developments.
Customer Engagement in the Feedback Loop
A feedback loop is the entire process of engaging the customer, collecting customer feedback, consolidating it, and then responding with an appropriate action or follow-up. The tough part is keeping the customers engaged in that loop.
Here’s how you can manage that:
1. Live Chat Support
Live chat support will help you interact with your customers in a fast and sure way. You can even use it to track customer conversations and find prompt solutions to any recurring issue.
2. Social Media
According to Statista, 59% of customers have a more favorable view of brands that respond to customer service queries on social media.
You can start by creating hashtag campaigns and leveraging reviews in exchange for prizes to keep your users interested.
3. Display Customer Reviews On-site
If your users know that you consider all reviews, they’re more likely to share their opinions as well. So, show appreciation to those who leave reviews by leaving a small comment thanking them for their comment.
Measuring the Impact of Customer Feedback on Software Products
There is one last thing left to do. You need to gauge the impact of customer feedback on your software products. That’s where metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) come in.
They track the quality and speed of your product development activities and inform you whether they’ve made a difference or not. Let’s look at four KPIs and metrics you should always track:
- Time to Market (TTM) – It measures how fast you can bring a product from ideation to market launch.
- Defect Rate – Calculate the defect rate to assess the number of product defects and issues found post-utilizing customer feedback.
- Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) – Measure customer happiness using the CSAT score. It should be 85% or higher.
- Churn Rate – It informs you of the rate at which customers stop using your product.
Measuring Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty
The Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) score is the most effective way of measuring customer satisfaction and loyalty. All you need to do is select a CSAT survey metric. Let’s list three of the most commonly used ones:
1. Net Promoter Score (NPS)
An NPS survey will enable you to measure your customer loyalty, i.e., how likely a customer is to return to your business, repeatedly purchase from you, or recommend your product to others. It can be distributed or shared with users.
2. Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)
The customer satisfaction score measures the level of customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction with your product. Customers rate their experience on a scale of 1-10 or 1-5.
All you need to do is divide the number of satisfied customers by the total number of customers that were asked the question.
3. Customer Effort Score (CES)
The CES measures the ease of operation or experience of customers. It could help you understand if the customers faced any hiccups using your product or website.
You can calculate CES using a rating scale and asking the customers the following questions:
- How easy was it for you to locate what you were looking for?
- How easy was it for you to operate our website?
- Were our product descriptions and instructions clear and easy to understand?
Privacy and Data Security in Customer Feedback
If your customers trust you and provide you with feedback, it’s crucial to maintain that trust and protect their privacy and data. Let’s explore how you can do that.
1. Use Encryption Software
Prioritize platforms that are known for robust security features and use decentralized databases. Algorithms with 256-bit key lengths are time-tested and substantially reduce the risk of unauthorized access.
For instance, you can implement end-to-end encryption protocols for every customer feedback stored in your database. You can encrypt this data with tools like Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TSL).
2. Be Transparent
Inform your customers of your data protection policies or make them easily accessible and readable on mobile devices. You can even add a chatbot to your website to guide customers looking for specific details.
For this, you can include in-app notifications or pop-ups to ensure every user knows how you collect their data. You should also encourage them to review privacy policies through notifications to ensure transparency.
3. Ensure Employees Understand Data Privacy Policies
Train all your staff to meet data privacy policies like the GDPR and HIPAA instead of just your new hires. Not ensuring data safety can lead to leaks and cause your company to become the subject of lawsuits.
How to Comply with Data Protection Regulations
Companies can comply with data protection regulations in several ways. Let’s look at a few of them:
1. Understand the Laws and Regulations
Be it the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), or the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), you need to understand what the laws require you to do to comply with them.
Understanding the laws helps to proactively abide by them during the software development process.
2. Align Your IT Strategy with Data Privacy Regulations
Adopting common data privacy principles like data minimization, consent, transparency, and accountability will ensure that your IT solutions are ethical and compliant.
This is the “Privacy by Design” approach that ensures that all the data privacy principles like user account are well-embedded in the software product’s core.
It’s also good practice to conduct regular audits of your software product and systems to ensure every feature complies with privacy principles. The proactive approach will help to fix issues before they turn into compliance risks.
3. Communicate Your Data Privacy Policies
Most data privacy and protection laws require you to inform the customers of their rights and ask them for their consent before sharing their data with third parties. Showcasing these policies will allow you to comply with the laws while leveraging customer feedback.
Future of Customer Feedback in Software Development
Customer feedback is an invaluable resource, not just for large enterprises and SMEs but for small solopreneurs as well. Let’s take a look at what the future holds for customer feedback.
- Real-time Feedback Integration: We can expect more seamless integration of feedback mechanisms within software interfaces. Customers will be able to effortlessly provide feedback while interacting with the product.
- Interactive User Feedback: Traditional surveys seem to be becoming obsolete as interactive widgets and visually appealing interfaces become more and more common. These will allow users to share their experiences in a more participatory manner in the future.
- Multichannel feedback loop systems: Feedback from all forums will be welcomed, and not just social media. In-app feedback forms, community forums, surveys, and other feedback systems will likely be integrated in the product development phase.
- Using AI-Driven Sentiment Analysis: With AI integration in almost every field, it’s highly likely that customer feedback will have the same fate. AI can help with more advanced sentiment analysis tools. These systems will help analyze feedback sentiments and place them in categories for further evaluation. The process makes it easier to continuously learn from user feedback and better understand user sentiment with time.
- Using Blockchain to Secure Feedback Loops: Blockchain technology can enhance the transparency of feedback processes. The records in blockchains are immutable, which’ll provide assurance that none of the feedback has been changed. It’ll ensure the integrity of the feedback loop and enhanced security.
Emerging Technologies in Feedback Collection
Emerging technologies like AI and machine learning are revolutionizing software development. For instance, AI-power sentiment analysis records what your customers are saying but also deciphers and understands what they are feeling. This is a game changer because it helps to connect with your users at a deeper level.
Furthermore, you have technologies like Augmented Reality, predictive Analytics, NLP, and Biometric feedback that have already begun to affect feedback collection.
For instance, predictive analytics uses machine learning algorithms to predict feedback trends. It means it’ll anticipate the types of feedback a software product can expect depending on historical data.
This will allow software developers to address the potential issues with the predicted feedback actively.
You can also look forward to automated categorization, which will automatically organize and categorize your feedback.
The software development landscape is constantly evolving. However, one thing remains constant — the invaluable role of customer feedback.
The feedback loop hasn’t just become a tool for product enhancement and product management, but it’s your golden ticket to unlocking the full potential of software development. So, you should always strive to improve it.