Using Client Feedback to Drive Innovation
What drives innovation in your organization? Are you constantly bringing “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” ideas to your product development team (to inevitably be met with eye rolls)? Or, are you truly listening to the wants and needs of your clients and working to improve your product to meet the demands of your user base? Hopefully, you answered with the latter.
Companies large and small across the globe interact with their clients on a daily basis, exchanging information through various streams – live chat, phone, email, support tickets, social mentions, etc. But information is only meaningful when there are processes in place to act on incoming client feedback.
When a busy support agent is assisting multiple clients at once, it’s easy to let an important tidbit of feedback during a routine conversation slip through the cracks, as “fires” and other, more pressing issues take priority. Even during lulls, incoming insights can fall by the wayside. So how do you overcome information overload and close the loop on valuable customer feedback?
Here are three tips to help ensure that client insights result in actionable, innovative change, rather than falling into the black hole of lost opportunities.
#1: Use the Right Tools
We all know that having the right tools at our disposal is often half the battle in completing a task or accomplishing a goal. Arm your sales and support teams with the right tools to make the process of receiving and tracking client feedback as efficient and seamless as possible so employees are willing and motivated to track this information.
Here are some examples of how you can easily modify pre-existing workflows to collect and track client feedback that is received through live chat and other communications:
Create forms that agents can use to submit client feedback, feature requests, etc.
If you’re not sure where to start, try setting up a simple Google Form for employees to fill out after client interactions via live chat, email, phone calls, etc. Get together with your Client Support team and pick 5 – 10 of the most commonly requested features. Add these to your form as a simple checklist along with a field for open responses. The faster team members can complete the form, the more likely they’ll use it! Send form responses automatically to a spreadsheet or other data tracking area where they can be monitored closely for emerging trends.
- Take advantage of integrations with help desks and CRMs! Many daily client interactions occur via live chat conversations, and any quality live chat software will integrate with a variety of robust CRMs. CRM integrations such as Hubspot, Salesforce, Desk.com, Zendesk (and more) offer custom mapping and other features to direct key bits of information to the right place. Admins also have the ability to set up operator variables which allows agents to track information discovered during a chat on-the-fly. In the example shown below, the agent can use the ‘feature_request’ variable to track information during their live chats. Admins can then map this data to the appropriate field within their CRM.
#2: Get Everyone (Yes, Everyone) Involved
Sometimes, building and working too closely with a product can cause us to miss even the most obvious quirks and shortcomings. Constantly getting a fresh pairs of eyes on the product (which should naturally occur as your company grows its user base) ensures that it’s routinely being evaluated by a new, diverse set of users. These new users will inevitably have questions or opinions about your product, and will likely engage with your team via live chat, phone, email and other methods.
Make the most of these client interactions by establishing processes to ensure that your entire team participates in conversations with users. While this is primarily the role of support and sales employees, it’s important to also include other key team members, such as developers, product managers, even the CTO and CEO (especially in earlier growth stages). Your clients will welcome the opportunity to speak candidly with a CEO or developer behind the product, and your development team can hear firsthand from users about everything that’s working – and not working – with their creation.
Try having each of your developers, engineers, etc spend manageable, scheduled blocks of time (such as 2-4 hours weekly or biweekly) chatting directly with clients. Each team is unique and will need to experiment in order to strike the right balance between focusing on primary duties vs. client interaction.
This is a crucial step in maintaining a pulse on client satisfaction. Conversations around pain points, missing features, and new feature suggestions serve as the first step in evaluating and acting on feedback – driving the product forward.
#3: Close the Loop
Ok, so you’ve got your entire team now actively gathering client feedback. That’s a tremendous and commendable first step. High fives for all! But it’s important to note that none of this matters unless your team consistently tracks each request from start to finish and emphasizes the importance of follow-up. It’s paramount to have processes in place to ensure that client feedback is audited and moved along the development funnel on a regular basis. All of these valuable insights and data won’t do anything if they’re just sitting in an old, forgotten spreadsheet.
When a client submits product feedback, they may often feel as though they are submitting their feedback into a giant black hole. It’s crucial to maintain accurate, up-to-date records of client feedback and feature requests so that team members can easily follow up with specific clients, notifying them of developments, improvements or releases. Fostering the client/business relationship with closed loop communications and actions is fundamental to cultivating loyal clients and promoters while also serving to move your product forward.