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How to Use Customer Feedback: The Human Insights Within Big Data

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In an attempt to become more customer-centric, an increasing number of companies are embracing a data-driven approach.

And, thanks to continuing advances in big data technology, there's a huge amount of it right at our fingertips.

In fact, according to Forbes, "data-driven organizations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers, 6 times as likely to retain those customers, and 19 times as likely to be profitable as a result."

Big data has become an invaluable tool for creating value in a business, eliminating a reliance on gut feel decision-making and, instead, empowering every team at an organization to analyze and change based on real feedback -- from real customers.

Why Brands Need Customer Feedback

When it comes to user experience (UX) and optimizing digital touch points, the first step in becoming data driven is to use direct data to determine where your users are getting stuck and what's preventing them from converting -- think sources like web analytics. This is the logical first step to initiate and drive the ideation process.

But, while these quantitative numbers from direct data can give you an idea of what is going on, when it comes to the why, qualitative feedback from your customers is the way to go.

In her powerful TED talk, 'The human insights missing from big data', Tricia Wang explains that the $122 billion big data industry actually means nothing without qualitative human insights. From her research position at Nokia, she saw the phone company tank by not listening to what their customers actually needed and anticipating approaching trends -- seriously, how many people do you know with an (un-ironic) Nokia phone?

We know that a combination of both quantitative and qualitative data is the sweet spot -- but it's important to make sure the customer feedback you're collecting is actionable.

How to Ask for Customer Feedback

EY recently produced a report on 'Becoming an analytics-driven organization to create value.' 73% of the 270 senior executives interviewed responded that the top driver for implementing big data analytics is to understand customers better. However, 32% admitted to being overwhelmed by data.

So, how can you ensure that the qualitative data you're gathering is actually valuable? And that it enables you to become truly customer-centric? By asking the right questions.

Here are five questions that user feedback platform, Usabilla, suggests brands ask to get started with collecting customer insights:

1) Why did you visit our website today?

Are the right people (i.e. your ideal customers) visiting your site? Are you providing valuable information for them? Analytics might show you how many people are visiting your site, but user feedback will tell you why they're there.

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2) What was your goal today and were you able to achieve it?

With an understanding of your customers' goals, you can make informed decisions about your site. This makes sure you are facilitating an optimal user experience, removing any friction in the path to conversion.

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3) What was the biggest challenge in finding what you were looking for? How much effort did it take to carry out your task today?

Asking customers to highlight potentially negative things about their experience might not sound appealing, but this can actually be the most valuable information you can get. You're essentially asking them about barriers to conversion, providing you with hard evidence to make necessary changes.

4) How can we improve our [X] page?

Is there something on a particular part of your site that's causing drop-offs? Every page on your site serves a purpose, so it's really important to find out if each page is delivering what it's supposed to, and you can be sure your customers will tell you if not.

5) Do you have any questions that you couldn't find the answers to?

Asking your users if there's anything you've missed will immediately highlight areas for improvement. Your potential and even existing customers are on your site to find information on your company, products, or services. If they can't find it, they'll likely turn to your competitors instead.

Remember, collecting customer feedback should always be centered around getting information you can actually use. Try to avoid questions with a "yes" or "no" answer and instead leave your questions as open-ended as possible. The answers you get back might be varied, but they'll be extremely insightful.

How to Use Customer Feedback

So, you've been running surveys across your digital platforms and your customers have been enthusiastically sharing their thoughts. Now it's time to combine these valuable qualitative insights with analytics and make some changes.

But, where to start? Get inspired by these use cases where customer feedback was the key driver in making a difference.

1) User testing and UX validation

Customer feedback is a vital component of any testing phase. Recently, Usabilla rolled out a shiny new Support portal and, in order to make sure it met the needs of users, it was first released it in beta and the floor was opened for feedback.

Targeting a percentage of visitors to the existing site, Usabilla invited customers to try out the new beta website. Once customers were on the site, they were extremely willing to share their thoughts. Perhaps because they had been actively invited to try the page, making them more engaged with leaving feedback.

Through a combination of passive feedback submitted via a Usabilla feedback button and running active surveys -- using actionable question based on the ones above -- the company was able to both test and improve the beta website before rolling it out to the public.

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2) Quick Wins & ROI

Gathering valuable data from your customers doesn't necessarily need to involve surveys or open-ended questions, sometimes simply opening the channel for communication can make a big difference.

French football club Paris Saint-Germain, saw an incredible return on investment after implementing user feedback to ask for customer's contact details. Hugo Charrier, Ecommerce Manager at PSG, explains:

"We decided to run a slide-out campaign where customers could leave their details if they didn't have time to complete the process for purchasing a VIP ticket, or in case they had any further questions. As a result, we received over 500 email addresses which, in turn, generated almost €100,000 worth of sales!"

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3) Identifying bugs and issues

Sometimes it's not only the customer feedback itself that can drive actionable change. But, if you implement a user feedback solution that also provides metadata with each item, the details can be invaluable.

For example, Paris Saint-Germain was also able to uncover a significant issue with Internet Explorer after receiving multiple feedback items with the same browser metadata where customers complained they were unable to purchase tickets.

Global travel company, TUI Group, had a similar experience. Marc Worrall, General Manager Digital Services at TUI explains:

"We identified a significant issue on our online platforms following a software release. We started to get a lot of online feedback that customers were unable to use our search panel and this was across our mobile devices. What we didn't know was that this was specifically through the Google App. This affected 11% of our mobile traffic, which in turn attributes to a potential revenue loss of £350,000 per week!"

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As Chris Mazzei, Global Chief Analytics Officer at EY, summarizes, "Analytics is changing how organizations make decisions and take actions. Data by itself has limited value but when managed as a strategic asset, data can change how organizations compete and win."

From the examples we've discussed, it's clear that becoming a truly data-driven and user-centric company requires a combination of quantitative and qualitative sources. However, reaching out for customer feedback doesn't need to be overwhelming. As long as you have a solid feedback platform in place, it can be manageable, actionable, and help to deliver the seamless digital experience your users are looking for.

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