How To Get Customer Feedback That You Can Take Action On


Savvy entrepreneurs know that customer feedback can directly translate into real competitive advantage and boost bottom line growth in revenues and profits. Well established companies all across the world, too, are inviting customers to help them: create better, more meaningful and motivating advertising & marketing communications and to design and actually develop new products that subsequently sell faster. Here's how to get customer feedback that you can take action on:

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In this new era of consumer generated media and with the explosion of online communities‚ consumers are increasingly willing and able to provide vital intelligence to companies.

Online communities of solvers, luminaries and lead-users are now being engaged by companies. These are communities who can anticipate and create new solutions and products that the general market place has not yet been able to articulate a need for.

Brands like Electrolux, Procter & Gamble and others use consumers and design labs, online communities to take on board and translate target customers' views, ideas and requirements into better products and services.

SME's can also build in customer feedback mechanisms to generate insights that you can take action on. 

Recommended reading: 4 Reasons Why Fake Reviews Are Deadly For Your Business

Invite feedback

Customers can provide vital help at all stages of the entrepreneurial journey. Invite their feedback on:

  • Satisfaction with product/service/company
  • Likelihood to do business again
  • Likelihood to recommend
  • Why the customer is not satisfied/likely to do business again/recommend
  • Awareness and usage of competitors
  • Satisfaction/likely to do business again/recommend competitor and why
  • How did they learn about your business?
  • Have they purchased from your competitors?
  • How do you rate against your competitors? -worse, same, better and why
  • How often do they purchase from you?
  • Do they purchase across your entire range?
  • Could they purchase more from you?
  • Would they be interested to learn more about your products and services?
  • What's the best way to communicate to them?
  • What are your strengths and limitations?
  • How likely they would be to refer you?
  • Have they referred you in the past?

Measuring satisfaction

There is no substitute way of measuring customer satisfaction than asking the customers directly for the evaluation criteria that they use in measuring what is important to them.

Avoid measuring what the business thinks is important to the customer.

You must first ascertain from customers what their key assessment criteria are and then measure how the business performs on those criteria.


A questionnaire is the most common technique for such measurement and its content/areas of survey should be co-developed with customers.

Keep questionnaires short and easy to complete. Questions should not be ambiguous and the customer should spend no more than fifteen minutes doing it. Cover no more than ten to fifteen parameters in the questionnaire, ones that are most important to the customer.

Include key questions such as:

  • Would you buy again?
  • Would you buy our other products?
  • On a scale of 1 to 5 (with 1 less likely and 5 most likely) how likely would you be to recommend it to a friend?
  • How can we serve you better? (Open ended)

Questionnaires can be done regularly by email, by telephone and in specially convened customer focus group, clinics and panels. Using a third party will solicit more feedback from the customers but if cost prohibits outsourcing then at least run regular feedback in house.

Include former customers to get their perspectives (on leaving) and non-customers to get knowledge of your competitors.

On an ongoing basis, create a facility or process for your staff with frequent customer contact (in sales, service and accounts) to capture open-ended feedback. This can help inform on new areas of customer satisfaction enquiry.

Use a five-point scale:

1= very dissatisfied
2= dissatisfied
3= neutral
4= satisfied
5= very satisfied

Be cautioned that the 5s are the only group not likely to defect and adding the 4s and 5s together is not the general measure of overall customer satisfaction!

Taking action on the insights

Once you have set up feedback mechanisms make sure that you are feeding results regularly to the departments or team members that need to hear that feedback. How will your company take action? How can you use the feedback to develop new products and services?

Putting in place processes to capture and take action on what customers are telling you will enable you to develop new products faster as well as design your marketing communications well around the key messages you have heard.

Over to you now. How often do you solicit customer feedback for your business? Tell us in the comments below. 

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