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How to Collect Customer Feedback and Improve Your Service

by Katie Joll · Updated Jun 22 2020

Every service desk should have standards, metrics and SLAs that they monitor and strive to live up to.

You could argue that no metric is more important than the impression of your users. They’re why you exist, right?

In service desk language, the drive to collect feedback and improve is often referred to as “experience management.” Customer experience forms one part of the overall experience to be managed (employees are counted too), but it’s a major part.

Here’s how to collect customer feedback and make improvements:

Why get customer feedback?

This might seem like an obvious question with some obvious answers, but here’s something to consider: many companies gather feedback, a lot fewer do anything with it. Sometimes it seems that companies are gathering feedback because they can – there’s a feature in their technology that enables it.

It is well worth asking, why do we want this feedback and what will we do with it? Customer satisfaction score targets shouldn’t be the end goal, not in organizations that are committed to continuous improvement.

While customer sentiment or satisfaction scores can help to take the temperature at that moment, consider what sort of information you need to be effective. What sort of questions do you need to ask, and what sort of processes do you need to have in place to ensure that feedback gets reviewed?

Customer feedback that is gathered with some clear objectives in mind can help to shape growth in your company. While you might not use every piece of feedback you get, you can find some real gems that help your company adapt and move forward.

Have a plan for the data that you’d like to collect. There’s no sense in gathering feedback purely for a score or just for feedback’s sake. What are you prepared to invest in terms of time and energy into improving?

Show customers you mean it

It’s totally understandable that you can’t take action on all feedback that you get, however, it’s important to have a plan to take action on at least some feedback. If a customer has bothered to fill out a survey or send in an email, then they’ve invested time in providing you with that feedback. If you ask for opinions but never change based on them, why would they give that time again?

What can you do to encourage that feedback? Sharing what you will do or have done with it helps. For example, you can provide updates on improvements you have made based upon customer feedback. Explain how you use their feedback to help shape any changes or developments you make.

Make sure your messaging around customer (or user) feedback is concise and focused on the benefits to them. Let them know that their feedback matters and is valued by your company. You’re not just mindlessly gathering data, you’re seeking ways to make their experience better.

Show customers you meant it when you gather feedback - keep them updated

Ways to collect feedback

The next question is; how will you gather feedback? Here are a few ways:

Customer surveys

Surveys are a popular choice, you just need to consider a few things:

There are a lot of differing views about when to send surveys (and to whom). Some service desks shy away from sending them to people who have complained or had an “incident” that led them to contacting the service desk. That’s because people fill surveys out in the heat of the moment when they’re annoyed. A one-off poor experience might skew the results.

Is this fair? Another school of thought is that ALL customers (or users) should receive a survey after their interaction with the service desk. If you only want pats on the back, there’s little point to a survey. One caveat is that if the person has had different tickets in one day, generally, no more than one survey per day should be sent out. There’s no need to bombard people - they may be less likely to get back to you if they feel overwhelmed.

Response accuracy is something to aim for. Another possible way of achieving this is to send surveys to completely random selections of customers. The only potential downside is that you can end up sending out the same thing twice.

In terms of survey length, keep it to the minimum you need to ask the questions that will help you achieve your goals. This might mean you change the survey from time to time, targeting areas that you really need. You may even choose to have longer, annual surveys vs. shorter, more regular surveys.

The tools you use matter. You might choose to build your own solution, but there are already pre-built options out there that will deliver a smooth experience for your customers. For example, Survey Monkey (which integrates with JitBit) is a popular choice. You can create surveys of any sort with it, ranging in length.

With tools like Qualaroo, you can ask timely questions about the customer experience, including while they’re on your website. So for example, you can have a small widget that pops up and asks, “How was our service on a scale of one to ten?”

Email or contact forms

You may get customer feedback via email or contact forms that you have on your website, but from a management point of view, you need to be careful to manage those well. For example, you should have a process to go through whenever feedback comes in via those channels that ensures it is looked at and actioned if necessary.

Email for example, is often a channel chosen by someone who wants to make a complaint. It’s important that those people are acknowledged and that you don’t lose track or leave their feedback unanswered. Some ideas for this include:

User interviews

Another way to gather feedback is to reach out over the phone, especially to regular users. This is obviously a slower and less scalable method of gathering feedback, but through having a conversation you can often find out more than would otherwise be included on a survey.

You can often get good, qualitative stories through talking to your users which can help to bring some context to any quantitative feedback you have. The best way to get good information is to ask open ended-questions (those which can’t be answered with a simple yes or no). Yes/no answers are easy to get from surveys at any other time.

Tracking user behavior

You can use analytics software or tools such as heat mapping or A/B testing to see how users interact. You can learn things such as where people typically get tripped up, what they are using the most, and what they are looking at.

Some tools for this include:

With these data-driven tools it’s possible to be overwhelmed with data, so have particular goals in mind for what you’d like to observe.

Final thoughts

Collecting customer feedback can be a valuable exercise for growing and improving your service. The important thing is to do it the right way: have specific goals and assure customers that you do listen to what they have to say and act on it.

Customer surveys are one of the most popular ways to gather feedback, but make sure that your format makes sense to them. Long surveys for short interactions probably won’t!

Look for other ways you can gather feedback quickly, and ensure that those who bother to submit emails or contact forms always get a response. Lastly, let people know what you’ve done about their feedback! This will encourage them to keep offering it.