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Are Product Leaders Listening to Customers?


As a product leader, your goal is to constantly provide a better product to deepen engagement, grow your revenue, and delight your customers.

In order to do so, you need to listen—we mean really listen—to customer feedback.

Customers are sensitive about sharing information, especially given recent rulings that prioritize privacy above all. So if a customer actually wants to share feedback and tell a brand how they feel, that data is the holy grail.

Far too often, companies don’t take action based on the feedback their customers provide. A lack of communication and implementation of customer feedback can affect brand loyalty and customers’ willingness to provide feedback in the future. Apptentive’s data shows that it’s important for customers to feel heard when they give feedback, because when they are heard, they are loyal.
In a recent survey, we asked consumers to share their thoughts on how companies handle their feedback.

The majority of respondents, 62%, said they are not confident they are heard after leaving feedback. More than half said they are not likely to continue being a customer of a company that ignores their feedback.

As such, communication and listening play a large role in establishing and improving customer loyalty. Listen to your customers’ wants and needs, then build solutions to meet those desires.

Are there things you can do as a product leader that set standards for everyone in your company to follow when it comes to listening to customers? Absolutely!

Read on for some tips.

1. Make it Easy for Customers to Talk to You

Customers are hard-pressed to leave feedback in any form, and the wall between customers and businesses makes it all-too-easy to forget that there are real people on both ends of the exchange. Most brands today may think they build products around their customers, but in reality, our data shows they only hear from less than 1% of their customer base, which we call the “vocal minority.” That means about 99% of their customers are in the “silent majority,” and their feedback and loyalty aren’t being fostered or prioritized.

According to Accenture Interactive’s 2018 Personalization Pulse report, 83% of customers are willing to share data if it means their digital experiences are going to be tailored to their preferences. Additionally, customers who you are proactively engaged with are four times as likely to use your app after three months.

Providing a place to receive feedback is a great start, but most customers only reach out unprompted if they have an issue they need help fixing. To get in front of customer frustration and to gather feedback from the bulk of your customers, you need to make a proactive effort to show how important feedback is to you.

To do so, let customers know you are listening and want their feedback by proactively engaging with them at smart times throughout their digital experience. For example, you can start with a simple survey asking a question about their recent experience, but without waiting for them to run into an issue to trigger the survey. Most customers aren’t used to being asked for feedback and need encouragement. Be there for them and include a “Give Feedback” button in the menu or a well-timed prompt asking for feedback as a way to show customers you care.

2. Use Feedback to Drive Your Product Roadmap

Now that you’ve begun gathering customer feedback, it’s time to put it to work. Using customer feedback to prioritize your product roadmap might seem like an obvious strategy, but very few product managers actually do it. Need help to get this started? 280 Group has An Eight Step Process for Creating a Product Roadmap.

Your customers expect you to ask them for feedback, and this feedback is a massive opportunity to essentially have an insurance policy on your roadmap, and to ultimately improve customer loyalty. Research from IAB positions first-party data as the driver for “all significant functions of the enterprise, including product development, customer value analysis and pricing.”

As a product leader, your best bet in driving loyalty is to use customer feedback to continually improve your product. Customer feedback provides publishers with prevalidated ideas to fix or improve their digital experiences. Whether the sentiment is positive or negative, customer feedback is insanely valuable and should always be treated as an opportunity to learn how you can make a better product for your customers.

In today’s connected world, building trust and developing a personal relationship with customers will shape and define a product’s success. Consumers are becoming increasingly wary of third-party data collection tools and would rather communicate directly with brands. According to a survey of digital buyers in North America, 80% of respondents said they would be comfortable sharing personal information directly with a brand in order to get personalized marketing messages.

3. Respond to and Act on Customer Feedback

Customers should know that their feedback isn’t going into a black hole. Once a customer does provide feedback, let them know that it’s valued.

In the same survey, we asked respondents how companies handled the feedback they shared, and here’s what they had to say:

The biggest lesson is this: Take the time to respond to each customer who leaves feedback. A personal message in response to feedback makes all the difference to customers as it lets them know they are heard and valued. Regardless of whether the feedback is positive or negative, recognize it for what it is—a gift—and give thanks. If the feedback contains a suggestion or bug report, let the customer know where this issue stands in your roadmap. And once that issue has been fixed or that suggestion has been implemented, reach back out to inform the customer of the impact their feedback made.

Finally, use your customer feedback to continually improve your product. Customer feedback provides publishers with pre-validated ideas to fix or improve their apps. As mentioned above, these insights should inform your product roadmap and rally your development team around a single point: the customer.

Wrapping it Up

Understanding customers can be a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be. When product leaders focus on the right time to engage in a non-invasive, proactive manner, the amount of knowledge they can gain directly from customers can be invaluable.

Direct customer feedback is worth its weight in gold—make sure your team listens for it whenever possible.

January 16, 2019