Getting User and Customer Feedback: How to Understand Customer Experience Holistically?

In previous posts we discussed a bunch of ways of collecting customer feedback. Thing is, none of the approaches mentioned in itself gives us complete understanding of customers. The key always resides in synthesis–analyzing information from all sources to form a complete picture. Let’s see how we can look at the different sources of customer data and develop holistic customer insight.

Approach 1: Metrics

First things first. It’s always hard numbers, with or without A/B testing, that should get our attention first, as this is the most direct measure of customer behavior as well as business results.

On the other hand, metrics are great at telling “what” are happening with customer experience, but not so much “why” these are happening, and henceforth you need qualitative, in-depth, insight to explain the metrics.

Approach 2: Anecdotal Customer Feedback

There’re many sources of anecdotal customer feedback you can leverage. For instance, customer reviews on Google Play Store, Apple App Store, and Amazon are a great way to gather anecdotal customer feedback without spending much money and time.

Such feedback has limitation though, as they come from a biased sample (most reviews come from users that are really happy or pissed off), doesn’t usually give you in-depth knowledge of the issues–the reviews can be really generic and lack details. That’s why they should be used as an early read of customer experience rather than fine-tuned investigation.

Approach 3: Quantitative Customer Feedback

Quantitative customer feedback is typically collected through surveys and can let you have high confidence of the data collected due to the large number of people giving feedback. On the other hand, surveys don’t give you the kind of in-depth look at customer experience, which needs qualitative customer research.

Approach 4: Qualitative Customer Feedback

Nothing beats having in-depth conversation and observation with your customers. Conducting interviews, focus groups, usability studies, and so on is the only way to get you deep and context-relevant understanding of customer experience. This is also the best way to give you actionable insights that can be directly applied to improve your customer experience.

Approach 5: 3rd-Party Industry Research

You don’t always need to collect customer feedback yourself. If you’re interested in learning about general customer behavior–for example, what users typically do on iPhones vs. Android phones, there’re plenty of free and paid industry analysis out there. A simple Google search can get you good data. And if you have access to syndicated research reports published by the research firms like  Forrester, Corporate Insights, and ForeSee, that’d be even better.

Put it Together

Now that we briefly reviewed a few approaches for collecting customer feedback, here’s how you can piece them together to get holistic customer insight.

Step 1. Start from what’s freely available

You should always, always start from what’s easy to do, that is, looking at metrics, look at anecdotal customer feedback, and review 3rd-party industry research reports.

Step 2. Form hypotheses and research questions

Based on insights collected in Step 1, you can form certain hypotheses, such as “customers drop off from our website because the site navigation is confusing to sue”, and research questions, such as “how can we redesign the site navigation to make it easy for users to find things?”

Step 3. Conduct customer research

To validate the hypotheses and answer the research questions generated from Step 3, you need to conduct targeted market or user research. For instance, to address the issues about site navigation, you can conduct a usability study to evaluate and inform site navigation design; to lift registration conversion, you should conduct design research to inform best ways of designing registration flow.

To learn more about this topic:

Read more insights about how to conduct market research, evaluate usability, and gather customer feedback

Check out a complete list of customer feedback techniques based on the business questions you want to answer

Read a tutorial on how to gather customer feedback in developing products that users love

By Frank Guo



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