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How to Harness Customer Feedback for Product & Service Enhancements

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April 8, 2024

By Paul Schmidt

Businesses are more competitive than ever, and you want to make sure your company has what it takes to create the best product or service of its kind. One part of this is implementing customer feedback to enhance your products and improve the customer experience. Let’s take a look at how to collect customer feedback and what you should be aware of throughout the process.

Why Is Customer Feedback Important?

Gathering customer feedback is an essential part of shaping the overall experience for current and potential customers. Without feedback, you’ll never know if your customers receive value from your service or product.

Feedback shapes marketing, sales, customer success, and your product. Your customers are the lifeblood of your company and the reason you continue to operate, so it’s critical to gather information on how your product or service impacts their lives and to find out what you’re doing right (and wrong). 

Consider this stat: Companies that focus on the customer are 60 percent more profitable than those that don’t. 


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Best Practices for Collecting Customer Feedback

Before you collect customer feedback, it’s important to have some processes in place to keep you focused and efficient. 

Proactive vs. Reactive 

Collecting feedback should be a constant, ongoing process. This will enable you to have a constant stream of feedback on what your customers and prospects are struggling with, what they like or don’t like about your product or service, and what resonates with them. This proactive practice allows you to have a dialogue with your customers and proactively address issues.

Taking a reactive approach, in contrast, only allows you to see two ends of the spectrum: customers who love your product or service and those who hate it. For example, customers tend to leave reviews for items they had a great experience with or had an awful experience with. They don’t often take the time to go to a review page to leave a middle-of-the-road, lukewarm review. So if you’re only going to review pages to gauge customers’ reactions, you’re going to miss subtle types of feedback gathered through an ongoing process that could end up making a significant impact. 

Understanding Feedback Channels

Take time to understand the channels your customers use. How do your customers prefer to give their feedback? For example, is it on your website, an app, forums, podcasts, social media, or via survey? Do your customers even respond to surveys?

One best practice for collecting feedback is to identify where your customers congregate to share what’s challenging for them and things they’re trying to work through. This knowledge empowers you to proactively monitor feedback and keep tabs on conversations happening in your industry.

Qualitative and Quantitative Data

Don’t rely on a single method of gathering customer feedback. To have a complete picture, it’s important to implement qualitative and quantitative methods of collecting feedback. 

Methods for Collecting Customer Feedback

Knowing your customers' feelings about your product or service can help you better manage customer support, make improvements to your product, and increase engagement while forecasting churn. These are some of the methods that will help you do that.

Systems for Monitoring Feedback

If your feedback is spread across multiple systems, such as spreadsheets and content management platforms, it’s going to be difficult to spot themes or trends. By implementing one system to monitor and channel feedback, you can easily draw insights from the collected information.

Customer Watercoolers

Go where your customers are. As we discussed in the previous section, if you understand where your customers congregate, you can monitor those channels and set up alerts for when your brand is mentioned or when someone mentions a topic that is important to you. 

People rarely share feedback directly on companies’ websites, so identifying and monitoring the outside channels your customers are using to give feedback will help you gather valuable information. One tool SmartBug uses for this is SparkToro, which shows where your audience is, who they are, and what they talk about—all valuable information in the customer feedback gathering process.

Review Generation System

Set up a review platform for your customers to rate your product or service, and develop a method for encouraging customers to give you feedback. It’s especially important to push promoters of your product or service to share their positive experiences in review channels.

HubSpot has a handy tool that enables you to customize your Net Promoter Scores (NPS) survey and follow-up questions to better understand why your customers responded in the way they did.

HubSpot Net Promoter Score Tool

What to Do with Your Feedback

You’ve collected all this data ... now what? Effective customer feedback is about more than collecting feedback—it’s about making sense of it all and creating a path forward. After you collect customer feedback, you need the ability to constantly report on it as well as a system that alerts you to feedback so you can address it immediately. 

Implement a dashboard to view key performance indicators (KPIs) of customer success, including churn, customer sentiment, and ticket volume trends. Think of your dashboard as the vitals of your organization; it’s going to help you understand the overall health of your company. You should monitor the dashboard on an ongoing basis at specific times, such as monthly or quarterly, and schedule regular higher-level meetings with leadership to evaluate how this feedback will impact new products or services and how the customer experience needs to change.

Pro tip: Take all of the comments that came in through your surveys this last quarter and run them through ChatGPT to get a summary of the key trends and takeaways among those comments. This is a quick way to get a bulleted summary for your executive meeting.

Challenges to Be Aware Of

Sometimes you’re going to encounter vocal customers. Although their passion is commendable, it’s important when evaluating customer feedback to make sure you’re also paying attention to quieter customers so you can sell to and solve problems for your whole customer base, not just the loudest portion. 

Remember that customers don’t always know what they want until they see it. There will always be feedback on what customers generally like and don’t like, but they often won’t have feedback on a new product or service until it’s in front of them. 

Interviewing customers and sharing prototypes or mockups with them can help you understand pain points and how to solve them. It can also be beneficial to make public-facing road maps available to your customer base that enable you to have an open dialogue with your customers and understand their needs and where to go next. For example, SmartBug uses Productboard to help us gather feedback and share our future roadmap.

Create an Engaging Customer Journey

Your customers are key to the growth of your company. Monitoring customer sentiment, engagement, and retention rates is essential to maintaining visibility into the overall health of your company so you know when you’re on the right track and when to pivot. Find out how to enhance engagement during the customer journey with our webinar, “How to Create a Unified Customer Journey from Prospect to Renewal.”


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Topics: Customer Success