Today, consumers want to provide helpful insight for the brands they interact with, but most companies are not taking advantage of customer feedback, even though it's in their interest to ask for input from their customers across multiple touch points.

And that's problematic both for companies and for consumers.

By not making it a priority to ask for, listen to, and implement customer feedback, companies are missing a huge opportunity to earn customer loyalty and improve their product or service.

Customers want to give feedback

To understand how customers and companies perceive feedback, what role mobile plays in the feedback ecosystem, and how loyalty is affected, the company I work for (Apptentive) partnered with SurveyMonkey to conduct two surveys of more than 1,000 US consumers and professionals age 18 and older.

What we found is that about half of customers (51%) expect companies to ask them for feedback directly. That proportion is greater among mobile app users: 64% of customers who prefer to leave feedback in a mobile app expect companies to ask them for it directly.

Yet, it turns out that one in three companies have never asked their customers for feedback; clearly, consumer expectations are not being met.

Consumers are eager to leave feedback because they want to be a part of the process. We asked them what kind of feedback brands asked them for, and the most popular responses demonstrated that desire:

  • Give us a list of new, exciting features to vote on to feel like a part of the process of upgrading features
  • What could we do to improve on our product or service?
  • What features is our product missing? What features are unused?
  • How can we improve your user experience?

Those questions go beyond the general and vague "How are we doing?" feedback that companies typically ask for.

By asking consumers pointed questions about the direction or current state of the product, companies can glean invaluable feedback that will help to create a road map that's closely aligned with customer needs.

Loyalty is something that has to be earned; often, that comes down to understanding your customers and building an experience around their needs. If people know their feedback has been implemented, 97% of them are at least somewhat likely to become more loyal patrons to the company.

Feedback implementation not only shows customers that the company cares about them but also creates a more customer-centric product that better serves the needs of the consumer. It's a win-win.

The importance of collecting customer feedback is clearly shown in the data. What can you do to increase the volume of feedback you receive from customers? Here are three tips.

1. Ask for feedback

Most consumers expect companies to ask them for feedback directly. Instead of passively waiting for customers to give you feedback, seek it out. We recommend using in-app messages or surveys to ask for feedback, or using a feedback survey after a prompt that asks for a rating.

The No. 1 reason respondents gave for not leaving feedback was because it's too time consuming. Keep that in mind. You'll make it easier and more appealing for your customers to leave feedback by asking short, concise, and direct questions.

By doing so, you will receive more feedback and the quality of the answers you receive will rise—which is equally as important as the amount of feedback you receive.

2. Ask at the right place and right time

Following this tip will help you avoid making customers feel bothered or interrupted by your inquiries.

Here are a few best-practices for asking for customer feedback at the right time and place:

  • Let your customers complete their intended task before asking them for feedback. For example, wait until they've completed their purchase instead of asking as they're in the middle of a transaction.
  • Be certain your customers have sufficient experience with your product or service before asking them for feedback; you'll ensure you're getting high-quality feedback. Customers who are using your product or service for the first time aren't likely to have as deep an understanding as repeat customers..
  • Be respectful. Don't ask for feedback multiple times within a short period of time, especially if a customer ever says "no thank you." Annoying the customer is not the goal, and who doesn't get annoyed by being asked the same question over and over by the same company?

3. Respond to customers who've left feedback

By not responding, companies are essentially ignoring their customers—an action that leads to a decrease in customer loyalty.

More than half (55%) of respondents to our survey who leave feedback in a mobile app reported that they aren't likely to remain a customer if their feedback seemingly goes ignored. And yet, 67% of respondents who leave feedback in a mobile app never receive a response from the company.

Making sure customers feel heard when they leave feedback will give companies a customer advantage—meaning they'll be one of the few companies that actually acknowledge customers' voices and thus gain an advantage against the competition by bolstering loyalty.

Consumers told us what it takes to make them feel heard, and the top action companies can take is to make a change based on their feedback. Consumers also told us that they value receiving personalized responses, and having conversations with brands about their feedback.

* * *

When done correctly, customer feedback increases loyalty and creates a stronger business that's more aligned with the wants and needs of consumers.

Customer feedback has a profound impact on loyalty. Whether loyalty is increased or decreased after a customer leaves feedback is up to the company: Communication is key.

More Resources on Customer Feedback

Five 'Customer Marketing' Tactics to Boost Retention and Reduce Churn 

How to Get More Product Reviews 

Three Customer Feedback Myths That Deserve Busting

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image of Emily Carrion

Emily Carrion is head of marketing at Apptentive mobile customer engagement software, which empowers brands to build meaningful relationships with their customers.

LinkedIn: Emily Carrion

Twitter: @Emily_Carrion