Take a closer look at the truth behind today’s most popular customer feedback myths.
Your customers are the lifeblood of any business. Listening to their feedback should be one of the most important things you do.
You simply can’t stay in business without having people willing to pay you money for a product or service. It is that simple.
As entrepreneur and modern-day philosopher, Derek Sivers wrote in his book, “Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur,” the Tao of Business is – “Care about your customers more than about yourself, and you’ll do well.”
Building real relationships with your customers is good for business. There’s a lot of differing opinions about how you go about doing that.
In this article, I’m going to debunk some of most common customer feedback myths and reveal what your company should be focussing on instead.
Myth 1: You don’t really need to ask for customer feedback.
I don’t like giving out blanket good or bad advice. This is one of the rare times where I make an exception. This is terrible advice.
Your business needs customers to exist. The only way to get and keep those customers around is to build or offer them something they they want or find valuable. It is impossible to do this if you are unwilling to listen or acknowledge that your customers exist.
Myth 2: The customer is always right.
This should be changed to the customer is usually right. While asking for feedback is essential, it’s important to understand that there may be times where their feedback isn’t helpful. In the rare cases where the customer is wrong, it is your job to be empathetic and help lead them to a better solution.
Another example where the customer isn’t right is if they are abusive. It is one thing to let an angry customer vent, but if they are repeatedly difficult and rude to you or members of your team, it is 100% okay to end the support interaction. You don’t need to be a human punching bag.
Here’s a great post from Help Scout on how to deal with abusive customers.
Myth 3: Your customers shouldn’t be able to weigh in on your product vision and roadmap.
This isn’t a black and white issue. It is nuanced, and depends on each company.
As a company, you should set and drive your vision and roadmap forward. But it is important to have some mechanisms and feedback loops in place to be able to incorporate the best and most relevant customer feedback and requests. It can also help validate the decisions your product team is making.
Asking for product feedback (and incorporating what you can) is one of the best ways to show that you care and value your customers.
Plus, the stats don’t lie.
On average, it costs three times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to retain an existing one. Or this stat from Jay Baer’s book – Hug Your Haters. – “80% of brands think they deliver exceptional customer service. Only 8% of customers agree.”
Thinking you always know more than your customers and ignoring all of their ideas will cost you a ton of money.
Myth 4: If you’re asking for feedback, you have to build everything your customers ask for.
While it is important to listen and respond to all customer feedback, adding every single feature that your customers want is a fantastic way to lose sight of your product’s vision, overcomplicate your product and suffer feature bloat.
What you choose NOT to build and how you respond to these feature requests is as important as what you end up building.
It can be tempting to ignore the feature requests that you are not going to build or put off telling customers about it for months – if not years. However, I don’t recommend this strategy. It is much better to tell the customer that you are not building it right away instead of stringing them along. Post from Groove offers a couple of email templates that you can use to craft a response, when the answer is no.
Myth 5: Call or ticket deflection should be your holy grail customer experience metric.
Many customer support teams gravitate to call or ticket deflection as their main KPI. This makes a lot of sense.
Deflection is the easiest KPI to show a support team’s value in an organization. To calculate the benefits of deflection, all you need to know is the total volume of each support channel (phone, email, etc) and the cost to answer an inquiry per channel.
The problem is when deflection is your sole KPI, you are going to have a tendency to obsess over it all costs. I know what you are thinking. That’s great. I want to deflect all the cases from phone, chat and email that I can.
However, there’s two kinds of deflection – positive and negative. When you route customers to self-service and community support options and then have a feedback loop in place to make sure their issue was resolved, that’s deflection working as intended.
Oftentimes, this process is slow. We feel the pressure to increase the number of deflected cases faster. So, we route all support inquiries first to our self-service channels and make it hard to find our support contact details.
Damaging Customer Experience
This will lead to a dramatic increase in cases deflected but it can damage customer experience in two ways.
- You are forcing people to go to the community forum or other self-service options. Sure, some may get an answer in a timely manner. However, that’s not always the case. People can get frustrated searching and give up. Or, they get no response in the community. Or even worse, they get the wrong or not helpful responses.
- It is not possible to solve every issue through self-service options. Some issues require agent intervention. One example is billing issues.
The key to avoid failing into this trap is to balance your deflection KPI with a customer experience or feedback metric. Customer experience metrics tend to be survey based. The most common ones are Customer Satisfaction Scores (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS).
As you’ll see in the next customer feedback myths, NPS surveys aren’t fluffy vanity metrics. It can be an incredibly powerful in retaining current customers and decreasing churn.
Myth 6: NPS Surveys can do more to damage a company’s reputation than help it.
NPS surveys have a lot of critics -including Jared Spool – in the UX community. In Medium article, Jared argues that it is a pseudo-scientific metric that’s easy to game.
I agree with Jared’s assessment around some incorrect use cases for NPS surveys. The biggest example is over-asking for feedback and sending an NPS survey to every single customer (regardless on if they had a recent experience with your product) or cherry-picking only the customers who are in love with your product.
But even with it’s downsides, NPS won’t hurt your company. When you are sending NPS or voice of the customer surveys after a recent interaction, you are creating real-time feedback loops that can be invaluable.
A funny thing happens when you ask people to rate an experience on a scale of 0 to 10. 7s and 8s tend to be the “safe and default choices.”
If you have a pretty good product, this is where most customers will fall. The product works as it should and they’re probably going to stick around, but they are not excited enough to tell all of their friends about it.
NPS shines by figuring out who your detractors (0-6) and who your promoters are (the 9s and 10s). These are the people who are the most likely to talk about you in either a positive or negative light.
For example, Nice Reply uses NPS surveys to increase free trial conversions. It is a way to show off another feature of our product while also getting valuable feedback about what customers like about it as well as areas for improvement.
Myth 7: You need to ask more questions to get more usable data
There are more ways than ever to survey your customers. Be it from in-store displays, email, text, phone and other surveys. But just because you have so many options doesn’t mean you should use them all or ask a million questions.
In fact, it is even more important to learn to edit and deliberately scale back the number of questions you ask.
It can be easy to forget that customers are doing you a favor when they share feedback with you. It is in your best interest to keep your asks short, concise and as easy as possible for them to complete.
The less time, energy and effort it takes, the more responses you’ll receive.
The NPS survey is a great example of this. It is only one question. You are asking how likely a customer is to tell their friends and family about your product or service.
Before adding more questions to your survey ask:
- Do I already know this? Ie. am I asking them for the email address that I’m sending the survey to?
- What am I going to do with this information? If it’s not clear why you need it, or what problem you’re trying to solve, don’t ask.
Myth 8: You should weigh all customer feedback the same.
While you should respond to all feedback, it doesn’t mean you should weigh it all equally. Here’s a few examples:
- You should weigh feedback from paying customers higher than people who aren’t paying you any money.
- There’s usually a small group of loud, vocal customers. Sometimes, what these customers want isn’t in the best interest of the majority of your other customers. It can be a tricky balancing act.
- The same goes for early adopters. Your product is naturally going to evolve over years – even decades. Early adopters may have become used to having a louder voice or getting special treatment because they joined early on. At a certain point, you’ll receive that what got you there won’t get you to the next level.
Busted? What did we miss?
To sum up, these are 10 of the most common customer feedback myths that many companies still have. But times are changing.
It’s time to re-evaluate how you’re asking for feedback in a way that will give your actionable results.