Across all industries, product managers and marketers feel overwhelmed by the idea of acting on customer feedback because they aren’t confident in their abilities to make sense of it in a way that can help drive their business decisions.

Feedback affects organizations top to bottom, and it can be tough to know where to start once you have it. There’s a big analytics challenge in finding a data scientist to set up the data cubes, pulling in the right sources of information, and preparing the right views for leaders and product owners to consume. It can take months to set up a first version and years to get it right as sorting through feedback from different customer segments is difficult, especially as the size of your customer base grows.

But it doesn’t have to be this hard. There are easier ways to act on customer feedback and turn it into your biggest strength, unique only to your business. Below are five steps to get you started.

1. Analyze it

It may seem obvious, but far too many businesses collect customer feedback and then let it sit. The first step to leveraging feedback as fuel for your business is to analyze it critically in order to understand what customers really want.

Analyzing feedback looks different for every business depending on what questions are asked and where it’s collected. But regardless of the what and the where, the feedback you collect is only as good as how you process it.

Apptentive dashboard

Of course, the process is smoother if you can look at all of your customer feedback in one place—especially if you are able to drill down feedback to the individual consumer level, which goes one step further than looking at customer segments.

2. Share with your team

While it can be easy to assume customer feedback is owned solely by product managers, in reality, it impacts your entire organization. Marketers, product managers, customer success managers, and everyone in between can benefit from understanding what customers want, so it’s important to share it with all stakeholders across your org.

Data shows that customers expect to be interacted with, and those interactions heavily influence retention. 51 percent of consumers expect companies to ask them for feedback directly, which may explain why the volume of feedback is low for companies who don’t bother asking. Not only do customers expect it, but prioritizing the voice of the customer is also a strategic investment that helps improve metrics across your end-to-end business strategy. Unprompted, companies typically only hear from less than 1 percent of their consumers. Through proactive engagement and creating customer feedback loops, Apptentive has helped our customers boost engagement to 23 percent, reaching 20 times more customers than the conventional rate. In turn, our customers are able to be more dollar efficient, can better prioritize product planning, and can expand their loyal segment of customers through listening and responding.

Apptentive customer feedback rate

3. Take action

Far too often, companies don’t 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. Our data shows that it’s important for customers to feel heard when they give feedback, because when they are heard, they are loyal.

How companies act on 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.

There are two primary ways for the voice of the customer to positively influence your business plan:

  1. Let feedback drive your product roadmap: Use customer feedback to continually improve your product. Customer feedback provides publishers with pre-validated ideas to fix or improve their experiences. These insights should inform your product roadmap and rally your development team around a single, centric point: the customer.
  2. Let feedback influence your marketing initiatives: Feedback doesn’t just impact your product. Listen to customers to find ways to adjust your marketing initiatives, like running deals around certain products or time frames, adjusting language to better resonate with the group, and more.

4. Follow up and say thank you

Once a customer does provide feedback, let them know that it’s valued! Customers should know that their feedback isn’t going into a black hole. Regardless of whether the feedback is positive or negative, recognize it for what it is—a gift—and give thanks.

Unfortunately, the digital world is currently in the middle of a feedback crisis. A response to feedback can go a long way, but roughly two-thirds of respondents say they typically don’t get a response when they leave feedback. Not surprisingly, respondents’ perception of how many companies actually listen to customer feedback is dim. This is interesting, because many companies hold a positive view of their ability to implement customer feedback: nearly three-fourths (73 percent) of companies believe they are good at implementing customer feedback. This suggests a gap in communication between companies and their customers about the appreciation and implementation of their feedback.

It’s up to you to stand out from the crowd and prioritize your voice of the customer. For example, if your app 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. Consumers want to know their voices are being heard; let them know your team prioritizes what they have to say.

5. Keep a two-way feedback loop going

Effective feedback loops should be a frictionless part of the customer experience and designed in a way that resonates with their needs: quick, non-intrusive, and optimized for whatever device they’re engaging with, especially when it comes to mobile.

To see this optimization in action, consider how you prefer to communicate across your channels. Take mobile, for example: If you’re anything like us, you prefer texting to calling, don’t like to write out long responses on a mobile device, prefer to answer in shorthand, and expect any requests on your time, such as survey requests, to be cognizant of your time. Taking communication factors into account results in a mobile-optimized feedback loop, and a communication channel specifically designed with your mobile customer in mind.

Looking ahead

Now that you know what to do with the feedback you collect, it’s time to get to work!

But before you begin, always remember the golden rule: All feedback is good feedback, regardless of the medium through which it is collected. Whether the sentiment is positive or negative, feedback is insanely valuable and should always be treated as an opportunity to learn how you can make a better product for your customers.

For more on gathering and acting on customer feedback, download a copy of our recently-released guide, The Complete Guide to Mobile Customer Lifecycle Management.