Customer Feedback For Startups

A good way would be to mention a dedicated number for customers to call in with their feedback.

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By Amit Kapoor & Arun Singh

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With the start-up ecosystem heating up in India, it is no wonder that customers are spoiled for choice. For each product or service that is offered, another similar one pops up soon enough and unless companies can understand the factors that make customers stick, the churn rates where customers leave to sample a competitors offering will continue to rise. In many cases, new startups focus heavily on acquiring customers, but forget retention, not realizing that for any new product or service innovation, it is the existing users who will bring in others and it is this "core" that needs to be protected at all costs.
Why gather feedback?

PRICING: Incorrect or absurd pricing will out compete the firm from the market. Pricing can be captured through surrogate feedback or direct questions which try to hone in on the correct amount to charge for the product or service.

PRODUCT/SERVICE FEATURES: Many organizations fall into the trap of inside out design instead of outside in design for features. There should be no confusion between design and features. An Apple phone is great design, but it would be a no-sell if it could not make calls, relentlessly capture features that customers need in order to be a complete product or service offering.

RETAIN AND PROTECT THE "CORE": The core customers are the early adopters. Maintain a strict focus on collecting regular feedback from these customers as they would be the start-ups extended sales force. Many start-ups fails here.

HELPS YOU MEASURE CUSTOMER SATISFACTION: Scoring customers on a satisfaction scale will determine how much at risk they are to leave for competition. This scoring can be segmented by salesperson to determine sales effectiveness or the effectiveness of specific departments such as operations and customer care.

How to gather feedback?

SET UP THOSE METRICS: Identify the most pressing concerns and derive metrics from those. Some examples are:

  • Was the product or service upto customer expectations?
  • Was the customer educated on usage?
  • Would the customer recommend the product or service to their acquaintances?
  • Would they buy the product or service again?
  • How would they rate their overall satisfaction?

Companies can setup many of their own additional metrics relevant to situations at hand. It would be wise to remember that feedback is an ongoing exercise, so stagnant outdated feedback metrics which are not relevant anymore should be discarded and new ones introduced regularly.

Ask questions about product or service features: Insert a free text box for customers to write what features they feel should be there in the product or service. While doing this, inform customers that this is very important feedback for the company and will be taken very seriously while upgrading the offering.

Have a dedicated number for the customer to call on: There is a lot of debate between taking direct phone surveys and online surveys.

A good way would be to mention a dedicated number for customers to call in with their feedback. This avoids the problem of interrupting customers awkwardly, while giving the company some conversion on direct conversations with customers. Don't forget to have someone answer the phone when it rings! Online Vs. Paper Vs. Phone: If a service, ask your salesperson to always take feedback, if possible when the service has been consumed, use technology such as a tablet if possible.

Google forms: Another great option. The data can easily be extracted and insights derived by analysis.

This article first appeared in the Indian edition of Entrepreneur magazine (August 2016 Issue).

Amit Kapoor & Arun Singh

Honorary Chairman and Associate Fellow, Institute For Competitiveness

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