Customer Feedback Loops: The Tools You Need

The secret to being a good Growth Product Manager is building great customer feedback loops into your product. They help you to understand where you might be losing customers, and how to fix their pain points. You need them in order to have a better understanding of how the user experiences your product.

Essentially, customer feedback loops help you find out how well your product solves your user’s problem, how easy it is for them to use, and whether they’re willing to continue paying for it.

Well Done Reaction GIF by Children's Miracle Network Hospitals

Why is this so important? Aside from telling you where improvements need to be made to your product, allowing users to share their feedback and effectively closing the loop is essential for good customer service. When our customers feel like they’re handing us their money and then shouting into a void, they leave and never come back.

If you’re seeing this happen, it might be time to plan and implement some feedback loops.

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What is a Customer Feedback Loop?

A customer feedback loop is a process which allows your customers to keep you updated on their experience. This could be built within your app, be a feature on your website, or even be in-person.

For example…

  • Apple’s Genius bars provide tech support and give customers a place to take their complaints/problems.
  • Twitter has dedicated accounts for communicating with customers about tech issues (@TwitterSupport) and safety concerns (@TwitterSafety).

There are several methods for gathering customer feedback data. Many of which are fairly inexpensive, so they’re available even to the bootstrap entrepreneur!

Social media is one such option, and a great example of how marketing benefits Product Managers. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are excellent ways of reaching your customers in a way they’re familiar and comfortable with. They’re more likely to tell you what they really think, not what they think you want to hear.

social media twitter GIF

You can also use proactive outreach by identifying which users have low usage, or did not complete the on-boarding process, and reaching out to offer help or training.

There’s also the option of following up with ex-customers. Many companies with subscription based models ask for a reason of cancellation before letting customers proceed, with the option to leave comments with more feedback. This will help you get a better understanding of your churn rate.

Another, scalable way, to introduce feedback loops to your digital product is to build them into it.

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

If you’ve been around the internet for more than a minute, you’ll surely have come across one of these at some point:

CSAT survey
Examples from Rentently.com

A Customer Satisfaction Score, or CSAT, tells you how happy your customers are with your product over all. This question can be implemented as a pop up or on a landing page customers are led to after completing an action. Or if you want more in-depth information, it can be sent out as part of a fuller survey.

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Customer Effort Scores (CES)

A Customer Effort Score is a feature often included in various user on-boarding tools. It helps you identify how easy customer’s find it to navigate your app/website. It’s a little different to a CSAT score, as it focuses on the ease of use as opposed to overall satisfaction.

These are particularly useful to implement at potential pain points, to identify whether the issue comes from your product or from an external source.

For example, if you have an ecommerce, and you find that many users add items to their basket but don’t complete the transaction, asking them how easy the checkout page is to navigate will tell you if that’s a contributing factor.

If the checkout process is incredibly easy, then you can focus your efforts elsewhere. If it turns out to be very difficult, you have your next problem to fix!

A Guide to Customer Satisfaction Metrics - NPS vs CSAT and CES
CES Example from Retently.com

Net Promoter Score (NPS) Surveys

NPS Score surveys are one of the most common ways to gather information on how customer’s feel while on your website/within your app.

It helps you get a general feel for how users receive your product in real time. It allows you to segment them into 3 categories: Detractors, Passives, and Promotors.

How to Create a Net Promoter Score® Survey Kiosk | Promotion, Surveys
NPS Survey from SurveyMonkey

For a full explanation of NPS and how it works, check out our handy guide: NPS for Product Managers.

When you’ve successfully gathered and analyzed the data from the NPS surveys, you should be able to segment your users into these three categories.

A smart Product Manager knows how best to leverage their promotors, as you can use these users as beta testers, encourage them to be content creators, and even leaders within your community.

Some tech brands do this very well by partnering with the top promoters, offering them roles within the community, or if they have their own medium (a blog, a YouTube channel etc) by sending them products and trials to review.

The Customer Feedback Loop Process

It’s all very well and good building great feedback loops into your product. But the effort is wasted if you don’t get the steps right!

  1. Gathering: All good learning starts with data!
  2. Learn: There’s no point in gathering data if you don’t learn from it. Going through your new data set and use it to answer a specific set of questions.
  3. Apply: Take what you’ve learned and create a set of action points. If you learn, for example, that your check out page is too complex. collaborate with your designers and work out how best to simplify it.

Following this process will allow you to close the customer feedback loop, and turn insights into action. Rather than gathering data for the sake of it, closing the customer feedback loop will allow you to improve your product and your customer retention.

fist pump success GIF

Close The Feedback Loop

You might have heard the phrase ‘closing the customer feedback loop.’ This is the desired outcome when building loops. It means acting on the feedback you’ve been given to improve your product, and communicating the next steps to your users.

Both you and your customers benefit from successful loops, but in different ways.

You: Get to collect customer feedback and increase customer loyalty.

They: Feel like you’re listening to them, and genuinely care about providing them with a good experience.

A good exercise is to look out for closed customer loops outside of your product. When you contact a brand for any reason, be it chasing up a delivery on an item or reaching out with a complaint, observe how the experience makes you feel. What steps did the company take, or could the company have taken, to make you feel satisfied as a user?

Best Practices

  • When you fix a problem, tell the world! It might be tempting to just fix it quietly and hope no one notices the problem in the first place, but you’re much better off getting back to the customers who reported the bug.
  • Don’t green-light every user request. Sometimes the customer doesn’t know best. You don’t have to give in to their every whim, but you do have to tell them the reason why. For example, Jack Dorsey was very clear about why Twitter will never have an ‘edit’ button, despite being the most requested feature by users.
  • Feedback loops are a long-term investment. They’re not just useful for a newly launched product. Throughout the lifecycle of your product, you should have feedback loops in place.
  • Be transparent. You don’t have to air all of your dirty laundry for your customers, but you should keep them updated. Tell them what you’re working on, what features they can expect soon, why a new launch has been delayed, etc. It helps to build trust.
  • Troubleshoot low response rates. If you’re sending your survey out into the world and no one seems to be responding, don’t just put it down to lazy/unengaged users. Experiment with a variety of tools and methods, or even with the placement of your surveys. Instead of simple having a banner on the bottom of your website, try sending recent customers and email with the survey embedded.

Top Tools for Customer Feedback Loops

  • UserGuiding: A tool which enables you to build user on-boarding experiences, complete with Customer Feedback features.
  • Retently: An NPS score tool which can be integrated with Slack to give you frequent updates.
  • Survicate: Includes a customer feedback hub to keep all of your data in one place, with solutions both for Product teams and Marketing teams.
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