Want Customers To Stick Around? Get Their Feedback From Day 1 (and Keep Doing It)
Inviting customer feedback is key to the growth of many companies, but getting that feedback early enough to enhance your product is the real secret to success.
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There's probably no successful business that doesn't do customer support well. And as a leader, you can't assume that some support won't be necessary. After all, mistakes happen, and people will have basic questions. Leaning on that support as a way to keep people loyal isn't ideal, however. If you really want people to stick around, then it's almost always better to improve your product first. Those shifts typically require tapping customer feedback consistently and being as in-depth about it as you can.
Feedback reveals the right goals
Since you're only human, you probably rely on biases and assumptions like everybody else. In product development, those biases and assumptions can get in your way. Those incorrect beliefs can translate into a poor design or fix that doesn't help them solve their problems and keeps the need for support high. Feedback takes the blinders off your eyes so you can see what their real needs are and set the right goals around those needs.
For example, in my business, our website is designed to get people on and off quickly. It's aimed at professionals, and we know that professionals are busy. If we had designed the site in the same way as a "fun" site like, say, Facebook, or if our interface wasn't as intuitive, then yes, people might stay on the site longer. But staying on the site is the wrong goal because it isn't what the customers need. They need efficiency so they can go do excellent things in their companies. Because we talked with our customers and understood their realities, we were able to make sure the website met them exactly where they are. Nothing is hidden or surprising — they can get on, complete a task or function and move on.
Related: Customer Intelligence: Solutions For Better Customer Service
Frequent communication always wins
What customers experience and want can change quickly. Talking to customers frequently is a must. Getting feedback at least once a month — or even better, once a week — is usually a doable pace that lets you stay on top of what customers are doing and thinking. But because there can be practical factors that make this easier or harder for a specific business to do, a good rule of thumb is just to commit to getting feedback as often as is possible for your company. Don't let any opportunity for interaction drop.
Related: Customer Experience Is Gaining Traction. But Are We Measuring It the Right Way?
Know your job
As you gather your feedback, it's really important to remember your role and the role of the customer. Their role is just to tell you about their pain points. Your job is to come up with creative solutions to those pain points (e.g., Button A goes here). So always ask them about their issues first, not the design.
Within this, sometimes customers aren't always going to tell you about root problems, simply because they might not even be aware or able to pinpoint them. Part of your role is to look at the feedback they do give you and to drill down into the "why" behind it.
Related: How Leaders Should Use Consumer Insights to Guide Decision-Making and Improve Customer Experience
The right feedback at the right time makes all the difference
Wanting customers to stay with you is always smart because it's cost-effective to keep the buyers you have. Even so, customer support is the wrong point of their journey to try to keep them around. Paying attention and gathering feedback early makes it possible to build your product more thoughtfully to begin with, gets rid of a lot of the reasons customers would need your support team in the first place and results in buyers who are happier and more loyal. Interact often and be willing to dig for the "why" behind customer issues for the best results.