Even though we’re living in the most technologically advanced period of human history, one of our most valuable tools as marketers remains: customer feedback.
We’re at the point where technology allows us to completely conceptualize, prototype, and release products with not much more than a keyboard and the proper computer code. 3D printing, remotely employed team members, crowdfunding, and constant access information allows relatively anything to happen for startups and innovators. Yet, we often get so caught up in racing excitedly to the finish line that we can overlook invaluable customer feedback until after the fact.
Customer Feedback: Gaining Valuable Insights
Staying competitive means innovating, and proper innovation relies on engaging with your consumer – all while staying true to your mission statement and core values, and omnichannel marketing efforts.
Technology moves quickly, customers shift constantly, and this doesn’t leave room for anything short of precise execution of your product or service the first time around. After months, sometimes years of developing your product or service, it’s easy to lose perspective on how real people will respond. Gaining access to, and then understanding your customer feedback is critical to ensuring your business stays afloat even when waters get choppy. Social media consistently represents one of the most active methods of getting to know what your customers think and what trends they’re bound to be a part of.
To engage your customers and anything they may be communicating, consider these following ideas:
Formulate a ‘problem statement’ – Although your customer research may have led you in the right direction initially, you’ll need to prepare for unforeseen roadblocks and issues as they arise. Asking for customer feedback means you’re looking to respond to their praise, but more importantly their problems. Not only that, but all your customers (and potentially new customers) will see how you handle these situations and make judgments on whether you’re serving their needs.
Hypothesize – When customer feedback leads you to a change you’ll need to make, it’s much better to respond as early as possible to avoid losing their business. Meeting with your team and any possible stakeholders, the next step is generating a hypothesis as to how the problem can be solved and get testing quickly.
Practice Makes Perfect – Your customers are the lifeblood of what it is your company achieves and – working with this metaphor – you’ve got to be your own immune system. Re-design, retest, and rapidly update what you need to in order to exceed expectations whenever possible. Even if a solution is still a way off, signs of progress really make the difference and can keep overly critical opinions from becoming too vicious.
When Customer Feedback Breeds Greatness
Designing your product or service with the holistic experience in mind is the stuff of greatness. Really it’s about creating something that fits into the interconnected market of your customer, becoming a part of their everyday life. Here’s a great interview driving that point home from one of the founders of Airbnb:
Really, becoming a customer-centric product or service comes from nowhere else but from within a company. Allowing those who rely on your product the most to be your most valued critics is a strength and source of innovation not to be overlooked. Sure, it can be difficult to accommodate certain requests and suggestions, but forgoing customer feedback altogether is a huge mistake. Look to celebrate your customers as the MVPs they are – your team, product, and business will thank you!