Creating feedback loops for higher customer retention

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On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the service you received today?

How likely are you to refer us to your friends?

How was your experience? 😀😐😡


Look familiar?
We all get these messages probably more times than we can count.

Companies attempt to capture feedback all the time to get data and (generally as a secondary motive) make the customer feel heard.

But let me ask you- do you feel heard when you get these?

Or do you think "Ugh, not another one. I don't care enough to pick which emoji face I'm feeling right now."

I'm guessing probably the latter.

Businesses are told over and over to capture feedback so they can make data-driven decisions moving forward.

There's no denying feedback is crucial to a business- without it you'd be flying blind. But HOW and WHY you get that feedback will determine whether all that information is actually useful to you or not.

Feedback is ALWAYS happening. It's happening beyond just the scales from 1-10 and surveys you send out to your customers.

  • Cart abandonment rate

  • reviews

  • customer retention

  • likes on social media

  • referrals

  • website bounce rate

  • phone calls

  • the bottom line

  • sales

  • conversion rates

  • open rates

  • new customer acquisition

    ...everything is feedback

Feedback is literally flying in from all different angles, which pushes business owners and entrepreneurs to start spinning their wheels trying to act on all of it. 

Without a controlled system for collecting, digesting, and prioritizing feedback, it's all too easy to get inundated under the flood of information.

Feedback is everywhere like glitter in an art classroom. But what benefit does is actually offer?


Jump to what you want to read:

Customer Retention

Ask yourself: Why do you really want this feedback?

How to frame your questions properly

How to capture the feedback

Where to capture the valuable feedback

How to use that feedback

Closing the loop


Customer Retention

Humbling fact #1: it costs 5 times more money to gain a new customer than it is to retain an existing one.

Humbling fact #2: 80% of your future revenue will more than likely come from only 20% of your current customers.

Why is asking for good feedback going to help your customer retention?
Because it shows that you really care about how they feel and think about the products in question. It gives the customers a buy-in to your company.

We tend to fall into the trap of SELL SELL SELL FIND NEW CUSTOMERS and current customers end up being an after thought.

BUT

They have already bought in to your business- why not keep them engaged? That's a lot easier than essentially cold calling the universe.

  I sense a bit of an imbalance here…

I sense a bit of an imbalance here…

Think of feedback as your company actively listening to your customers. Your company is leaning in, making eye contact, asking follow up questions, and validating responses and emotions. 

With your customers feeling that type of emotional connection to your company, think of how that will effect your customer retention numbers and ultimately your bottom line?

Can you imagine it?
Have I convinced you yet to go beyond the smiley/frowny face in your quest for feedback?

Hope so.

Active listening isn’t easy work, so let’s talk about tactics and strategies for a scalable approach to creating feedback loops.

  14% are dissatisfied- think about how you could grow if you could shrink that stat?

14% are dissatisfied- think about how you could grow if you could shrink that stat?

CREATING FEEDBACK LOOPS

Our goal as business owners is to create a sustainable and effective way to capture feedback and engage with our customers.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

Ask yourself: Why do you really want this feedback?

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It's time to dive into developing a structure for collecting feedback.

My main goal of this MEGA POST is to convince you create a sustainable feedback loop with customers. That requires some introspection.

Answer a few questions first to help you focus your efforts and frame your questions properly. You don't want to just go peppering your customers willy-nilly with questions that are confusing and don't give you valuable information.

  • How will this feedback help you move forward?

  • Where will you use this feedback?

  • What data points are the most important to capture?

Take the time to answer these questions.

Without knowing why you are collecting feedback it will be just another THING you have to do on your list of other IMPORTANT THINGS.

How to frame your questions properly

AVOID "I like this"

Ok, we all love hearing the "I like this!" feedback. It gives us warm fuzzies and helps us sleep a bit easier at night. But let's be real- that's completely and utterly useless feedback. 

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To go a wee psychological on you, "I like it" is creating a false consensus. False consensus is "when we overestimate how much other people share our beliefs and behaviours." 

“I like it" implies that because I like it, other people must like it too. Can you see why this isn't very helpful? 
This right here is why I feel great disdain for the emoji-face feedback pages I see and the scales of 1-10 if "I would refer this product to someone" or not. They are just other ways to ask "Do you like this?"

Ultimately, this doesn't matter.

What you really want to know is if your product or service solved a problem.

So, when you're writing out your questions, ask yourself: Am I really just asking if they like it or not?

If the answer is yes, rework it or delete. You're just phishing for a pat on the back.

The pat on the back should be that they bought or subscribed! They already like you!


AVOID yes/no answers

I can't tell you how many times I've done a survey where I could easily answer yes/no to a short answer question. Yes/no is about as helpful as "I like it." Be extremely careful in how you word your questions. 



DO ask how they feel

What was your biggest takeaway after attending the conference?

What was happening in your life that led you to purchase this product?

How can we improve to make your experience better?

In what ways has your cooking improved since completing the course?

All of these questions are asking how the customer feels. This is the really valuable feedback. 

As a copywriter, these are the types of questions I ask when I'm conducting consumer research. Customers know better than the company about how the products make them feel- why not ask them?
Not only will you get better insight to how your product or service is changing their lives (which is a WAY better pat on the back than "I like it," btw), but this is where your marketing messaging comes from.

I distinctly remember conducting a customer survey for a client where all of the ideas for the email messaging and website came directly from the responses.


Be very clear on why you are asking for your customer's feedback and then don't be afraid to really ask for it.


How to capture the feedback

There are so many channels and tactics to capture feedback, so I'll just give you a list.

  • Surveys

  • Interviews- Video and phone

  • Emails

  • Live Chat

  • In-app

  • Pop-up question on website

  • Self-select segmentation on email or website

  • Social media

  • Polls




What about incentivizing customers to give feedback?

Great question, anonymous fictional reader from Anna's head.

You can incentivize your customers to complete a survey by conducting a raffle giveaway, a coupon, or a gift for everyone, but tread carefully here. Even if they know the survey/poll/whatever is anonymous, you will still only be attracting customers that enjoy and like your brand as they will be more motivated to get that sweet prize.

Be strategic about where you ask for feedback so you don't always have to offer a prize in order to get answers.

Where to capture the valuable feedback

A feedback loop needs to be just that: a loop. Strategically place automatic feedback points at every point along your customer funnel to help see your business from every angle with the customer's perspective.

There are multiple points within your business where you can be capturing feedback. We'll start with the most obvious and then work back from there.



1) Exit Points

Where are all the places people could leave?

Unsubcribing from an email list

On the page it sends them to, ask them why. Take what you learned above about how to properly frame questions and really learn why. Don't guilt them on your unsubscribe page. They already want to leave- why make them feel worse about your product? It's seriously one of my biggest pet peeves.

Humble yourself before them.



Cancelled account/contract

Again, grabbing feedback on exit points is all about humility. Somewhere you didn't meet their expectations. Don't be affronted by it - be curious about it. On the exit page confirming the cancelling of the account prompt them to answer a few questions.

Frame it as a benefit to them- again be careful NOT to guilt them.

"We're sorry to see you go. We'd love to know where we could be better in the future. How can we improve?"



2) Complaints

Humbling fact #3: If you receive a complaint that means on average 26 other people have the exact same issue.

Take complaints seriously. Practice your active listening skills and make sure you have protocals in place that not only capture that complaint but delegates it to the proper people to button up the issues or investigate further. 
Here's the key though: actually capture the complaint. You won't to be able to notice trends and not just have your support team say "It seems like more people are complaining about xyz lately." Get that data to back that up.



3) Thank You Pages

After a customer checks out or converts, do you thank them? Or do you redirect to the home page?

Thank you pages are your chance to continue the conversation. The customer JUST bought in to your product or service- why not take that opportunity to continue the conversation?

  • "How did you find us?"

  • "What brought you here today?"

  • "What are you hoping to gain from this service?"

Here's my biggest piece of advice when it comes to Thank You Pages- DON'T just upsell them to another product. Genuinely thank them first.




4) Onboarding Emails

A customer has just subscribed to your email list. What happens next?

Is all they receive is the "confirm your human" double opt-in email and that's it?
Well, that's no way to begin a relationship.

Think of a new customer or subscriber as a guest you've invited to dinner. Val Geisler, email copywriting wizard, wrote an entire piece on the "Dinner party strategy" for email onboarding.

I strongly urge you to go give it a read.

The basic idea is this:
You wouldn't just yell out from the kitchen "The door is open!" and then not even come into the entrance way to say hello to a guest at your dinner party. You would welcome them, hang up their coat, give them a little tour of your house, and make sure they have a drink and are comfortable.

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Think of your onboarding emails like this.

How do you welcome your customer into your world, and not only welcome, but engage?

Set expectations of what they'll be receiving on the email list and ask them what they want to hear, what interests them the most, or even better- have them self-segment.


In your first email, ask them who they are.

Presumedly you have different audiences you are talking to- why not segment them into different lists and send more personalized emails tailored to their specific needs? That's high value for a customer.

So ask them- who are they? 

After that, ask them what they want to learn from your company.

Then act on it.


5) Non-active customers

We all have those people on our lists that haven't opened an email in about 2 years and only bought one product, but haven't taken the time to unsubscribe. Heck, we are those people.

Focusing communication toward your non-active customers can do two things in one stroke: re-engage them or clean them from your list.

Once or twice a year send out an email that's targeted ONLY to your most un-active customers or subscribers and ask them if they are still interested.

I know, I know, this is a scary thing to do but think of this feedback bucket like another exit point.

Ask these customers why they haven't engaged, what you can do better, and invite them to reply to the email. But be ready to ACTUALLY respond to them and take their feedback to heart.

These are the customers you want to hear from- they bought from you but aren't interested in continuing that relationship. 

Why? What more can you do? What are you missing?

If they still don't respond or open the email, give them one more warning and clean them from your list. You'll not only probably save money in your CRM subscription but it will also help your email open rates as now you have a more curated and engaged list.



How to use that feedback

You've done the work, answered your "why," framed your questions, picked your tactic and feedback location, and you've gotten results.

Now what?

Feedback is pointless if it just auto-populates a tool or a spreadsheet and then just sits there.

Have a process in place to review the feedback and develop action plans based on it. Even if you asked the most beautiful question your customers need to see that you are listening to their answer. 

If you always get positive feedback (lucky you...I actually had a client who only got great feedback...) I challenge you to look a bit deeper. Is there any point in your company that NO ONE is commenting on?

For example, imagine you sell handmade pet supplies and treats. Everyone totally raves about your doggie bisquits but no one mentions your hand-sewn bandanas.

BUT people seem to buy them. Why is no one talking about the bandanas? Do they get home then forget to even put them on their pet? Or use them only use and set them aside? 

Ask your customer next time specifically about your bandanas and how they are using them.

Who knows- you could find out that it is actually everyone's favorite product, but you were considering stopping production because you never heard any feedback about them.

Closing the loop

The important thing about feedback is closing the loop, whether it is negative or positive.

Now why would I be telling you to close the loop if this whole damn time I've been convincing you to open it?

Because circles.

If you don't follow up with your feedback you've left your customer hanging out in a U-shaped problem.

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If someone gives you negative feedback, let the customers know that you've solved the problem they were having and graciously thank them for pointing it out.

If you get positive feedback, celebrate it and check in a few weeks later to make sure the customer still has good interactions with your product.

If you're selling a service or a subscription service, ask about a month after they signed up how things are going and if they need any help making the most out of their plan.

Randomly ask your most loyal customers to hop on a call with you to get their feedback. 

Celebrate those special customers in an email or a social media post to make them feel even more special. Not only will you gain a customer for life, but you'll show the rest of the world that you actually care about them. And who knows- maybe they will be featured next month...


So, what have we learned?
Possibly too much.

But I hope your biggest takeaway is this:

Wow, I should really start developing a plan for creating consistent feedback loops in my business.