Want to take a look behind the curtain and see how things work in the online feedback industry? I recently sat down with Mopinion Co-Founders and feedback experts, Udesh Jadnanansing and Kees Wolters to get their advice on how businesses can make their user feedback truly meaningful.
In this interview, Jadnanansing and Wolters elaborate on key topics circulating the feedback industry such as how to harness the right data, how to improve customer experience and engagement, what a successful data exchange looks like, how brand-to-consumer relationships will evolve over the next few years and more…
Q: Why is user feedback – and hence customer-centricity, so crucial for businesses today?
Jadnanansing: It is evident that we are in the middle of a digital transformation. A myriad of companies are closing up shop and bringing their services online to websites and mobile apps. This switch to a digital way of working has many advantages of course, especially in terms of scale and cutting costs. However, it also welcomes an overwhelming influx of data. While there are countless tools available that enable you to gather quantitative data about these customers (e.g. the amount of visitors, where they look, where they leave, etc), these don’t necessarily explain their behavior nor do they provide you with the “why” – Why don’t they find what they’re looking for? Why have they abandoned their shopping cart without buying anything? Why can’t they finalise the payment?
Having access to these types of insights puts marketeers at a competitive advantage. This is where direct feedback from your visitors and customers plays a key role. In fact, user feedback is the key indicator of customer experience. With this information, you are able to prioritise and address issues that surface, bringing you one step closer to reaching a profitable conclusion and closing the loop.
Q: How do you zoom in on, and harness the right data to create valuable change for clients?
Wolters: The key to capturing the right feedback is asking the right questions at the right time. Using specific and targeted questions at moments when they matter most will help you to extract the best feedback. And when that relevant feedback is captured, the next step is to make sense of the data.
If you are running feedback on multiple domains or more complex websites, you need to be sure you are analysing the data in the right manner. This could range anywhere from following trends in certain funnels to monitoring key parts of the website, e.g. my accounts, service channels, etc. From here you must take those insights and turn them into action. Track progress and see if improvements you have made in a particular funnel lead to higher level of satisfaction or an enhanced experience.
Q: What is the most surprising, or interesting feedback your clients have received from a customer?
Wolters: The funny thing about feedback is you almost always get answers to the questions you didn’t ask. In other words, you might have a lot of waste in your data or receive complaints about issues you are already aware of. But don’t let that discourage you. There is also a great deal of valuable information in your feedback.
A while back we conducted a study to determine the top website irritations. In absolute volumes, it was discovered that much of the feedback we receive is related to bugs on the website – 20% to be precise. This was followed by two other issues: not being able to find the information the customer needs (19%) and problems with filling in and downloading forms (18.5%).
What surprises me the most actually is that almost every website has login issues. This may include resetting passwords, login verification e-mails that bounce, etc. While this is such a crucial step on a website, it seems that almost every company experiences this problem.
The irritations mentioned above give a more generic representation of the feedback we see everyday, but of course, every industry has its own types of complaints. For telecommunications companies, the problem is almost always about cell phones not having service. For insurance companies, often times claims are not accepted which can lead to a lot of frustration but not much can be done about it. And for utilities companies, things like meter readings can be very frustrating for customers. Every industry has its own bottlenecks in the customer journey but the key is to identify the pain points where you can actually make a difference.
Q: How was this used to improve customer experience or engagement?
Jadnanansing: Having this knowledge at your fingertips enables you to identify the key factors that are disturbing the customer experience and resolve them right away. A large amount of feedback is based on technical issues in forms and ordering funnels. The bug reports, for example, shed light on the fact that something is malfunctioning on the website. This insight gives you the opportunity to, depending on the type of bug, adjust the website accordingly. Small tweaks like this in a funnel can result in a huge increase in sales and a reduced customer churn rate.
Q: Feedback tools require active participation from engaged users. What does ‘control’ look like for consumers these days, and where should brands draw the line when considering how users navigate experience?
Wolters: Feedback is not only about monitoring or controlling. It also encompasses how consumers behave in a “social” online atmosphere. Today’s online consumers are expressing their opinions on just about every topic using social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. They are accustomed to having open and transparent discussions online, which means that when someone posts something about your brand on one of these platforms, not only is that post public, but a response from the digital team is expected.
In that sense, feedback is a direct channel or window for your customers. It gives them a way to contact you the moment they experience any difficulties or want to provide you with their suggestions.
Put simply, modern-day consumers are posting their issues online anyways so why not give them the opportunity to share this feedback with you directly?
Q: What does an excellent data value exchange look like?
Wolters: As previously mentioned, timing and relevance are everything. Triggering feedback using relevant questions will help you to extract the best feedback.
And all feedback has the opportunity to be important. It does not necessarily have to be significant in “traditional” research terms. For example, if someone is experiencing issues with a certain browser/platform combination, despite the fact that it is just one person, you probably want to know what exactly is going wrong and find out how to fix it. The same holds true for service in a store or restaurant. If a customer is not satisfied with the service or food, you would want to know why this is and make changes accordingly.
Source: The Journey Network
Another thought to keep in mind is the common tendency for companies to present an overkill of feedback requests. Sometimes you see websites with active chat dialogues, survey invites and feedback forms sprouting up all over. Again, relevance is key. For example, when you give visitors the option to provide online feedback while they are stuck in an ordering funnel, response rates can be over 25%. But when you look at traditional e-mail invites for loyalty research with the traditional customer satisfaction surveys, response rates are well below 2% on average. Interesting, right?
Q: What do you see happening to brand-to-consumer relationships in the next two years?
Jadnanansing: This of course varies greatly among industries but in general, we’re seeing that some companies are still holding on to a more traditional way of interacting with consumers – using shop or telephonic customer service and evaluating based on measures like Net Promoter Score (NPS) or Customer Satisfaction (CSAT).
On the other hand, there are many forward thinking companies that are tailoring their websites and mobile apps to the exact needs of their online customers. These companies often have a more sophisticated understanding of their customers. Using all of the information they can retrieve about these customers, including inter alia, CRM data, website behavior, customer profiles/personas, previous clicking behavior, etc., they can tailor the digital experience to these profiles. These are really the types of companies that will excel in achieving solid brand-to-consumer relationships in the next few years.
At this point, it is safe to say the online customer journey is becoming increasingly more personal. And as companies are starting to understand the “omnichannel imperative”, connecting every touchpoint throughout the journey becomes critical. When it comes to consolidating this data being collected from a multitude of touchpoints, Data Management Platforms (DMPs) are an ideal solution as they help to create a single customer view. In other words, solutions enabling you to “cosy up to the customer” and provide more personalised services.
Q: What impact will this have on businesses, and what do they need to do about it now?
Jadnanansing: We see that traditional businesses are progressively digitising their processes and embracing a more mature level of online presence. And on top of that, new “digital” business models are emerging in e-commerce with companies such as Uber and Airbnb. Of course, the product or service itself isn’t really innovative – you see a lot of traditional products and services being wrapped up in a digital business model. After all, Uber is, in essence just a taxi service. But the way digitisation plays a vital role in these types of services sure is interesting to see.
This digital transformation has already begun restructuring the way companies interact with their customers. To keep up, companies will need to continuously monitor and enhance how these customers experience these interactions as it will play a vital role in their future success.