Do You Speak Customer? The Language of Feedback Excellence
- Customer feedback management. Listening to customer feedback is essential for creating products that genuinely resonate.
- Data balance. Use both empirical data and empathy when presenting customer feedback for maximum impact.
- Role clarity. Understanding your role in customer feedback helps balance customer wants and business needs.
Collecting and distilling customer feedback is a vital part of launching and improving a product. Over my last seven years at Slack, my role has been to ensure the voice of the customer is at the forefront of our decisions throughout the building, iteration, launch and post-launch process for new products and features.
Most companies receive a wide variety of feedback from hundreds, thousands or even millions of users, which can often be very nuanced and catered to each individual’s own needs. But tapping into the voice of the customer is about going beyond the individual to identify the overarching trends and patterns so companies can build products that meet the needs of a large and diverse customer base.
Making Customer Feedback Easy
You want to make it as easy as possible for users to share their thoughts with you by putting up as few barriers as possible. At Slack, we cast a wide net when gathering feedback, offering many avenues of input for our customers. Before a product or feature becomes generally available, we gather feedback from internal Slack channels, from our parent company Salesforce and from pilot users. Once a product launches to the public, we turn to social media and support tickets. In fact, all customers have to do is type “/feedback” within Slack to be able to share their opinions with us.
Related Article: 10 Voice of the Customer Tools to Maximize Customer Experience
Using Customer Feedback for More Human-Centric Products
Our team of highly trained support staff review all inbound feedback and identify key themes. Those themes are reviewed by our product specialists, who pass the most impactful examples back to our product teams. This helps ensure the feedback is reviewed with empathy, which then translates to more human-centric products.
Listening to the voice of the customer is crucial because they’re the ones for which you’re ultimately designing and launching products. Incorporating customer feedback will help product teams stay grounded in the reality of their users, which is the only way to make incredible products that customers genuinely love to use.
Advocating for what’s best for the customer isn’t always easy. You often have to balance the wants of the customer with what business and product leaders care about. Here are a few ways teams can keep the voice of the customer front and center:
Customer Feedback: Use a Combination of Data and Empathy
When presenting customer feedback, I always come with receipts rather than just vibes. It’s imperative to present firm data like the number of support tickets and usage metrics, the percentage of tickets we got this launch vs. last launch and the sentiment of those tickets. Presenting data will give your claims credibility and make leaders more likely to implement changes. At the same time, you should also arrive at every meeting with empathy. Show empathy for the needs of business leaders and product teams, and demonstrate understanding that those needs may be in direct conflict with what the customer wants.
Related Article: Conquering the Customer Feedback Gap
Understand What Your Role Is — and What It Isn’t
Remember that it’s your job to provide as much context surrounding customer feedback as possible. However, it’s not your job to ultimately make product decisions or implement changes. This means that sometimes even when you present customer feedback clearly and have the data to back up your case, product teams may not make the changes for which the customer asked. In those cases, take the steps needed to understand that decision, so you can help your support team be reasonably transparent with customers. Transparency fosters trust and respect, especially in scenarios where you have to say “no.” Your job is education, not implementation.
Related Article: 5 Ways to Optimize Your Customer Feedback Program
Know Where to Focus With Customer Feedback
We’ve already established that when you cast a wide net, you get a ton of feedback to work with. This means you have to get really good at deciding which feedback to center your goals on. Feedback related to accessibility, usability and readability tends to be more indicative of a real impact to a customer’s long-term experience with your product than feedback related to personal taste. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between those two.
Don’t be afraid to ask your customers for more details, such as what they’re trying to accomplish when they run into the issue they’re reporting. Taking the steps to understand what prompted a customer to share their feedback will help you learn to prioritize the feedback that is integral to the experience of the product.
Final Thoughts on Customer Feedback
When building products, cross-functional collaboration is key. Make sure everyone on your team understands what customers are saying and has a chance to ask questions and explore opportunities. This way you’re implementing customer feedback and building products that directly align with the vision and strategy of your business.
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