In the age of email, live chat, and chatbots providing customer support via phone might seem somewhat antiquated.
However, in 2018 study on the use of voice in customer service 38% of respondents said that they prefer to interact with customer service representatives through voice channels.
It’s clear that customers still want to be able to call you when they have a question about your product.
You can use this to your advantage. Speaking to them on the phone is a great way to get valuable feedback.
Why are customer support calls a unique opportunity to gather feedback?
When Narvar surveyed 1,543 US online shoppers for their “Consumer Report 2018” they discovered something interesting.
They asked the survey participants what they like about using a chatbot to communicate with a retailer.
Most people liked the availability and the speed of the chatbots but a quarter of them also appreciated the lack of human interaction.
Meanwhile, when asked what do they dislike about using a chatbot to communicate with a retailer, most people said that they were frustrated that chatbots didn’t always provide answers to their questions and that interacting with them felt too impersonal.
Moreover, the majority of survey participants said that they preferred to talk to a human.
At first glance, this is puzzling. How can 28% of people say that they like chatbots because of the lack of human interaction while 58% say that they dislike chatbots because they prefer to talk to a human? What is the takeaway here?
You might be aware of the concept of the introversion-extraversion trait that is central to a lot of human personality theories in the field of psychology.
The general idea is that introverts are people who restore their energy by being alone which makes them more reserved while extroverts are people who restore their energy by interacting with others which makes them more outgoing.
It is thought that every human being falls somewhere within the introversion-extroversion spectrum. But what does this have to do with customer calls?
It’s probably safe to say that the degree to which someone is introverted or extroverted influences which customer support channel they prefer to use when they have a question about your product.
For example, an introvert might go with a chatbot because they want to avoid having to interact with a complete stranger, meanwhile, an extrovert might not only call up customer support but also be chatty.
In short, people who choose to make a call are more likely to be open to answering questions and providing feedback because they are more likely to enjoy an interaction like that.
Talking to a customer over the phone also allows the customer support representative to understand them better by picking up on details such as their mood, their tone of voice, their manner of speaking, etc. and then adjust their approach accordingly to gain more insight.
This makes customer support calls a unique opportunity to gather valuable feedback that you can then use to improve your product.
3 ways to get feedback from a customer support call
Now, the question is, how can you take advantage of that unique opportunity?
- At the end of the call ask the customer if they mind answering a few quick questions
Even the most outgoing person doesn’t call customer support just to chat so it goes without saying that your priority should always be helping the customer with whatever it is they are struggling with.
However, once that’s done, and the customer is satisfied with your solution, you should take advantage of the goodwill you just built and ask them if they mind answering a few quick questions.
If they sound like they could be open to it but are a bit hesitant, reassure them that it won’t take much of their time.
If they say yes, start with an open-ended question, such as “Can you tell me about your experience with our product so far?”.
From there, use your discretion to identify the most important points in their answer, and dig deeper by asking additional questions.
Pay attention to how the customer feels about the conversation. If they sound like they want it to be quick, make it short, but if they get more into it, keep it going for a bit longer. Try to avoid both cutting the customer off before they have given all their feedback and annoying them by not respecting their time.
Finally, let them know that their feedback is much appreciated, and thank them for their time.
- Conduct an IVR (Interactive Voice Response) survey after the call
IVR, or Interactive Voice Response, is a technology that allows you to automatically conduct a survey after a call by asking the customer pre-recorded questions and letting them answer by using their dial pad or speech recognition to pick an option.
In order to do this, set up an IVR survey using IVR software like VoxCo IVR or CallFire IVR, and make sure to keep it brief (3-5 questions maximum). Measure the time it takes to complete the entire survey. Ideally, it should be less than 60 seconds.
Then, once you have helped the customer to resolve their issue, ask them if they would mind participating in a quick survey that will help your company to understand their needs better.
Reassure them that it should only take 60 seconds.
- Send an email to the customers who provided feedback and schedule an interview
Calling up customers out of the blue probably isn’t the best idea because people generally don’t appreciate getting random calls.
However, you can email the customers who have already provided some feedback, and then ask them if it would be okay to schedule a 15-minute call with them in order to understand it better.
You can do this automatically, but it’s better to use a template, customize it by making a reference to a specific point that the customer brought up or a preference they expressed, and then send the email manually.
Make it as easy as possible for the customer to schedule an interview, which you can do by providing a link to a calendar with available slots and inviting them to pick a time that is convenient for them.
You can use Calendly to create a calendar for this purpose.
During the interview, really dig deep into the feedback they have provided previously, and also ask them a few general questions such as “Do you have any suggestions for us?”, “Are there any features that you would like to see?”, “Is there anything about the product that frustrates you?”, etc.
And, of course, thank them for their time at the end of the interview, and let them know that their feedback is much appreciated.
Make sure that you keep track of customer feedback
You have limited resources so you can’t give your customers everything that they want.
For example, one customer asking for a feature is not enough of a reason to invest time, energy, and money into developing it.
However, if the same feature comes up again and again, then you should probably consider adding it to your product.
Of course, if you don’t have a system for keeping track of customer feedback, then you won’t be able to objectively evaluate what is most important.
Make sure that you have a way of recording and quantifying complaints, feature requests, bugs, and anything else your customers mention when you ask them for feedback.
Pass the customer feedback on to the right person
There’s no point in gathering customer feedback if you don’t implement any of it.
Your customer support team should know who they should pass the feedback to.
For example, if it’s a feature request, should they go to the senior engineer, to the product manager, or straight to you?
You should also create a schedule to ensure that customer feedback gets analyzed and passed on to the right person regularly (obviously, if it’s an urgent matter, then that person should be informed straight away).
Say, your customer support team can set aside time every Friday to go over the feedback from that week, and then pass it on.
It’s also best to establish a formal way to deliver that feedback so that it would be easy to find, easy to understand, and easy to review.
It might be a good idea to put one of your customer support representatives in charge of creating a report with all the relevant information and emailing it to the right people.
Apart from passing the feedback, the customer issues can be converted into knowledge base articles. The solution to your customer issues contributes to your knowledge base which can be used as a resource for other and upcoming agents.
Keep in mind that the larger your company is, the more important it becomes to have a system for passing on customer feedback.
For example, if it’s only you, one engineer, one designer, and one customer support representative, then it’s easy for the representative to mention it to one of you face to face, on Slack, or via email.
However, as your team expands and the amount of feedback you get increases, this becomes unsustainable.
Of course, it’s best to put standard operating procedures in place from the very start so that you would minimize the growing pains that come with scaling your business.
Let the customers know that you have implemented their feedback
You might think that this is unnecessary because if they still are a customer, they are going to see it anyway.
However, sending a personal note to people who took time out of their busy day to help you improve your product is just the right thing to do, plus it will make them feel appreciated.
You should also consider giving them a small gift as a thank you (say, a free month of using your product).
That way, you will not only leave a positive impression and strengthen the relationship with your customers but will also make them more likely to provide feedback in the future.
Regularly review the feedback that you have received so far
Weekly reports are great because they help you stay up to date with what your customers are saying.
However, if you only look at them once, decide which suggestions to implement and which to discard, and then never go back to them again, you might miss out on valuable insights.
Create a schedule for reviewing all customer feedback at regular intervals, for example, once a week, once a month, once a quarter, and once a year.
This will allow you to see the patterns that emerge as the dataset becomes larger.
Ask your customer support representatives what they think and then listen to what they have to say
You customer support representatives are the people who spend most of their time interacting directly with your customers.
This means that they often notice the issues that need to be addressed much earlier than anyone else in your company.
They might also pick up on subtle things that don’t always show up in the data but are still important to know.
Make it a habit to regularly ask your customer support representatives what they think and pay attention to what they say.
Also, when you have an idea for a new feature, a marketing strategy, a price change, or anything like that, casually run it by your support team and get their input.
You might be surprised how valuable it can be to see things from their perspective.
Moreover, doing this will not only help you make better business decisions, but it will also make your customer support representatives feel valued.
Customer support calls are more resource-intensive than other support channels like email or live chat.
However, they are also the most personal form of providing customer support, and as such offer a unique opportunity to gather feedback that you can then use to improve your product.
So train your customer support representatives to not only resolve the issues but also ask questions. You will gain a lot of valuable insights as a result.