10 Ways to Get Actionable Feedback from Customers (part 1)

by Jeannie Walters

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It can be a daunting task to go looking for actionable feedback.

You have to roll up your sleeves, check your ego at the door, and prepare to learn some hard truths about your business and (gasp!) yourself. It’s great to seek customer feedback through surveys, but many typical survey questions lead the witness.

actionable feedback

For instance, “Are you satisfied” is a lame customer question. What does it really mean if they say they are satisfied? And what if they aren’t? Is that really enough information to act on?

If we want to improve the experience, we need to think differently about what we ask customers.

Before you ask customers for feedback, first ask yourself WHY you’re asking.

Why are you asking for this feedback, specifically? Are you looking for ways to improve? Do you have a specific problem you are trying to identify? Asking ourselves exactly why we’re going through the exercise of gathering feedback is a great way to start creating the best ways to ask for it.

Here are a few ways to ask for truly actionable feedback that creates better experiences.

1. If a customer seems “satisfied” but not enthused

Ask: “What should we add to our service or products?” Many times, we humans don’t know exactly what we want!

Asking “what would make you satisfied?” really leads to a lot of “um” and “I don’t know” replies. Besides, satisfaction is “meh.” Delivering extra value is what makes your experience stand out. “What should we add” forces us to think not only about what might be missing, but how we can go beyond expectations to make a truly memorable experience.


2. If a customer matches the profile of one who is leaving

Ask: “What could we improve today to keep you as a loyal customer?” Do not ask “What could we do to make you stay?”

It’s generic. And yet, we’ve all heard it before. Asking what should improve today empowers the customer to really speak their minds. I once heard the major source of frustration was the invoicing. This can be solved easily, and in fact, we did change it THAT DAY. That is power!

[Tweet “Before you ask customers for #feedback, first ask yourself WHY you’re asking. @jeanniecw”]

3. If a customer has left you for a competitor

Follow up a few weeks or months later and ask: “How is it going? Can you share what’s working better?”

Your goal here is not to secure THIS sale. Don’t make it about winning the customer back! Make it about creating a better future for everyone.

4. If a new customer raves about your first project

Ask: “Can you think of others who I should talk to? We build our business on referrals.”

In the beginning, when the relationship still has that new relationship smell, is the BEST time to ask for referrals. Invite customers into the process.

5. If a customer happily interacts just as they “should” and overall seems pleasantly loyal

Ask: “Can I invite you to be on our customer advisory board?”

The best customers are often the ones who are easy to ignore. They are not the squeaky wheels or the biggest cheerleaders, but they support your business every day.

Ask them to participate in an ongoing conversation about your business for the reward of getting more of what they love. (There are lots of ways to do this – with or without more incentives – that depend on the type of business, etc.) Help them feel important and needed.

Want to read more? Proceed to part 2 here.

Gather feedback like a pro with our free guide!

We worked with Clicktools to create a free guide with 5 bonus questions plus more actions and insights! 

The CX Expert’s Guide to Asking Survey Questions that Drive Change

This post was written for, and a version originally appeared on the Clicktools blog.

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience.

Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, LinkedIn Learning instructor, TEDx speaker, and President-Elect of the National Speakers Association Illinois chapter.

Learn more here.

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