If you’re growing a SaaS business, you know that customer feedback is an invaluable resource. By effectively managing your customers’ feedback and incorporating it into your product, your product will become a much more valuable resource for those customers. One of the most powerful types of feedback is real-time customer feedback.

So what is real-time customer feedback? Real-time customer feedback is feedback that is collected in-the moment that your customers are experiencing the aspect of your product experience that they’re providing feedback for. In this post we’ll cover why traditional feedback collection isn’t particularly effective, 5 reasons why you should leverage real-time customer feedback and how to set up a real-time feedback system.

 

Why traditional feedback collection misses the mark

While most companies accept that feedback collection is important, the way in which they collect feedback makes that feedback much less valuable. Take those Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys that you probably receive regularly. These are the surveys that ask you “How likely are you to recommend Company to a friend?”. While the results of the surveys give the company a high-level understanding of customer satisfaction, they’re so broad that they don’t provide any insight about what’s working and what isn’t. They’re not giving you feedback about specific aspects of the customer’s experience, at a particular point in time.

Because traditional feedback collection methods are delayed, your users or customers no longer remember the specifics of their experience with that particular aspect of your product. Over time, our memories become less reliable and less detailed. As a result, this delayed feedback is less meaningful and actionable. You may know that your customer had a positive or negative experience, but you don’t have enough information to do anything about it.

When feedback is delayed, you also miss the opportunity to immediately correct a critical aspect of your customers’ experience. If the feedback that you receive is telling you the one of your highest value customers is having a hard time using your product, but you don’t learn this until an NPS survey that you run three months later, they may have already stopped using your product in frustration.

Traditional feedback collection techniques also fail to get the feedback to the right team fast enough. That is, the team that can actually do something about it. If the feedback is related to an aspect of the product itself, shouldn’t that go directly to the product team? If a customer is having an issue with billing, don’t you want that feedback to get immediately to the team that can help them?

 

5 Reasons to Capture Real-Time Customer Feedback

Real-time customer feedback engages your customers at the moment that they’re experiencing a particular aspect of your product. Why does this make such a difference?

 

Point-of-experience feedback is more accurate

As we mentioned above, customer feedback received well after the customer had the experience about which they’re providing feedback is far less accurate than real-time feedback. When you collect feedback in-the moment, your customers’ experience will be fresh in their minds. They’ll provide an accurate assessment of their experience and, if you follow up with your customers to get more clarity or depth of feedback, they’ll be able to provide additional details. If you wait until days, weeks or months later to collect that feedback, what you learn won’t be accurate or actionable.

 

Real-time feedback is more efficient

The ways in which many companies manually collect feedback, through email, surveys or even phone calls are very time consuming. Surveys or interviews need to be created, customers need to be contacted and then the results of those surveys or interviews have to be read, organized and then routed to the right time. And these traditional methods aren’t just more time consuming for your team, they’re more invasive and time consuming for your customers as well, which bring us to the next point.

 

Real-time engagement yields higher response rates

When you engage your customers for feedback in real-time, engagement or participation rates are much higher. Why is that? It’s simply much more natural for customers to want to provide feedback when they’re using or experience your product.

For example, your customer has just completed onboarding and you ask them a simple survey “How difficult was it for you to complete onboarding?”. The question is straightforward and the experience is fresh in their mind, so they’re much more likely to respond to this survey question than if they find an email in their inbox two weeks later, asking them the same thing.

Real time feedback brings product teams closer to the customer

Collecting real-time customer feedback is a great way to bring your product team closer to your customers. We’ve interviewed hundreds of customer and product teams about their feedback collection process. We found that, in most cases, feedback is collected by customer-facing teams. That feedback then makes its way (hopefully) to some spreadsheet or project management tool, where it’s eventually shared with the product team. 

Because the product team only sees an extracted or summarized version of the feedback, they’re removed from really understanding the customer experience. This disconnection can mean that product teams don’t fully appreciate what is most important to their customers.

When feedback is collected in real-time, and routed to the appropriate team, product teams have a much better understanding of which issues are impacting the customer experience the most. This helps the product team to better understand their customers, what those customers care about most, and how to improve the product for their customers.

Closing the feedback loop creates loyal customers

In addition to collecting feedback in-real time, it’s as important to give your customers real-time updates on their feedback. Most companies don’t provide their customers with much followup on feedback after it’s received. If a customer submits a feature request, they might receive a “Thanks for your feedback” message and that’s it. From the customers’ experience, it feels like their feedback has landed in a black hole. This experience clearly won’t make that customer feel valued.

A much better approach is to keep your customers in the loop during the entire feedback lifecycle. So after thanking the customer for their feedback, update them as their feedback moves to being considered, prioritized and developed into a new product release. Most importantly, when you release new features, celebrate those releases by notifying the customers who made the request and thanking them for their input.

How to Set Up A Real-Time Customer Feedback System

To make the most of real-time customer feedback, you need an effective system to collect and manage that feedback. Let’s talk about a few key steps in the process.

 

Make it simple to provide feedback

To make it easy for your users to provide feedback in real time, make the process as simple as possible. Have you ever received one of those 10 page online surveys that asks you to write a paragraph about each question? And you see that progress bar at the top telling you’re only 20% through and you’ve already spent 5 minutes on it? Well if you finished one of those, you’re a better person than me.

So if you want a high response rate for whatever type of feedback you’re seeking, use simple questions that are quick to answer. Here are a few examples of what this might look like, across different parts of the customer experience.

 

Support

Front line support teams benefit from understanding whether customers are providing general feedback and requests, or reporting an issue that needs immediate attention.

Success

Success teams can use a survey such as Customer Effort Score to understand things like how easy or difficult it was for customers to complete onboarding.

Product

When you announce new features, you can immediately collect simple user sentiment that will give the product team immediate feedback on how well the new feature was received.

Engage your customers at the right time

To get the most impactful feedback, it’s important to ask for feedback at the right time. For example, customers probably won’t be able to provide meaningful feedback about a new feature on the day that you release it – they haven’t had a chance to use it yet. So we recommend running a survey such as Feature Fit Index about 90 days after the feature is released. While the right window of time will vary depending on your product, the point is to get feedback on the new feature once your users have really had a chance to experience it.

Route feedback to right place

In most companies, the Customer team ends up receiving and triaging all feedback. It’s much better to route feedback to the team that can actually do something about it. So why not ask your customers what type of feedback they have, and then route it directly to the appropriate team. This approach will unburden your support team to focus on the feedback that is best handled by them, and will bring your product team closer to the customer by routing product-related feedback to them.

 

Keep feedback organized

One consistent thing that we’ve heard from almost every SaaS team that we speak to is “I have more feedback than I know what to do with.” While in theory we may all agree that feedback is incredibly valuable, if you’re drowning in it, the reality is a bit less magical. The solution is to leverage a feedback management system to consolidate all feedback into a single system of record, organize it so that you can understand the important insights within the feedback and then prioritize it so that you can focus on the most impactful user needs first.

Always close the loop

Now that you’ve used that real-time feedback to get actionable input and built some amazing new features, be sure to keep your customers in the loop. And when you release the new features that your customers have asked for, you can notify them right in your app to celebrate and thank the users who provided the real-time feedback.

Use real-time customer feedback to your advantage

Your customers’ feedback is an incredibly powerful resource that you can use to build a better product, keep your customers happier and engaged and ultimately grow a more successful business. And real-time customer feedback is one of the most valuable types of feedback that you can receive. We hope this post will get you started on making the most of your real-time customer feedback. We’d love to hear from you. How are you using real-time customer feedback at your company?