Customers are the most important part of any business, right? I’m sure some would debate this, but for arguments sake let’s just agree that they are. At least in the top two, anyway. So they shouldn’t be treated as just a source of revenue. Instead, your customers should be the catalyst for product improvement.

The community surrounding your brand is like that close friend that will always tell you what you need to hear, no matter if it hurts or not. That candid feedback can be just the insight you need to make product improvements that add more value and relevance to customers’ lives.

Leveraging customer feedback is one of the most effective ways to make meaningful improvements to your products. Listening to—and using—that feedback will help you constantly build better products and, most importantly, better relationships with your customers.

Social listening helps gauge your community’s opinions

With 74% of consumers using social media to guide their purchasing decisions, it’s invaluable for brands to be where those customers are. Don’t just be a fly on the wall, either. Dive into the community to find out what people are saying about your products.

It’s normal to be totally attached to your brand. So viewing your products from an objective perspective can be hard to do. Building a strong community means taking others’ opinions seriously, though. Social listening provides a platform for unbiased feedback and perhaps the wake-up call you might need. 

As Tony Tran writes for Hootsuite, “Your customers are telling you what they want from your brand. If you care about them, you need to take a look at the insights you might gain from social listening.”

“Your customers are telling you what they want from your brand. If you care about them, you need to take a look at the insights you might gain from social listening.”

Social listening can seem grating at first, especially if you’re forced to sort through hundreds of hate and troll comments to find any of value. But don’t be discouraged. There’s a reason why more than half of global marketers have turned to social listening to understand changing customer preferences and read customer comments.

To maximize the insight you’ll gain through social listening, make sure you:

  • Cast a wide net and don’t focus all of your attention on one social network. Staying active on multiple social platforms makes sure all of your audience member’s feedback is represented and gives you the most complete view of how they feel about your products. For example, there’s hugely different age groups and lifestyles that typically use TikTok versus Facebook. Not having a presence on one or the other leaves you deaf to that demographics’ opinions.
  • Take action and engage with your audience every chance you get. Listening is one thing, but validating your customer’s feedback through engagement fosters a stronger relationship. A 2021 SproutSocial-sponsored report found that 70% of consumers develop a stronger bond with a brand through social media interaction. That bond will lead to more valuable feedback and loyalty.
  • Learn from what your competitors are doing. You can apply social listening to what your competitors are doing on social media, too. Regularly check out how they interact with their audience and gauge how differently your community behaves compared to your competition. This will give you a good idea if your social efforts are working or if they could use some tweaking.

Whatever the best approach for your brand, keeping an ear to the ground and taking social feedback seriously will help you deliver more value to your customers.

At-home focus groups provide a deeper level of feedback

During the pandemic, retail sampling was out of the picture, so a new form of digital focus group was born. At-home focus groups are a fantastic way to generate excitement while also gathering in-depth feedback from your customers.

An at-home focus group involves participants receiving product samples in the mail. Once they’ve experienced the product and formulated an opinion, they have the chance to volunteer their thoughts. These focus groups make an exceptional impression because:

  1. The customers get to keep the product sample—everyone loves free stuff!
  2. Sharing feedback makes them feel seen and heard by the brand.
  3. They get a chance to try new products risk-free.

While feedback on social networks can be all over the place, at-home focus groups allow you to really dig deep into your product’s positives—and flaws. Whether you survey these customers or organize a conference call with participants, you can guide the conversation to where it’s most helpful. And what’s more, receiving product samples motivates people to give quality feedback, with 45 reviews generated for every 50 product samples sent out.

Another key driver here is the interest that product sampling sparks. Consumers appreciate the generosity and feel that your brand takes their opinions seriously. This helps maintain loyalty with existing customers and creates memorable experiences for those just starting their journey with your brand.

Negative reviews inform key product improvements

It’s totally normal to be ecstatic about glowing reviews, but you should actually spend more time analyzing negative feedback. These less-than-favorable reviews will help you identify product flaws that went unnoticed during development and testing.

There’s typically no shortage of negative feedback to draw from, either. Consumers, on average, are 21% more likely to leave a review after a negative experience compared to a positive one. So the best move is to turn this sea of negativity into lasting improvements to your products.

If not, ignoring negative feedback can damage your brand’s reputation. Take Nintendo, for example. They’ve famously soured their standing among long-time supporters by seemingly disregarding—and in some cases even removing—products and features that customers have been vocal about wanting. Nintendo has decades of brand identity and billions in revenue to fall back on, though—most businesses aren’t so lucky.

“Treat every kind of feedback you receive as a gift. It is a free piece of information that you can use to improve and grow your business.”

So, while it might make sense that your main priority should be hoarding 5-star reviews so other customers see them, the opposite can be true. Constant praise won’t help you identify your shortcomings. Do you want to win 100 new customers via positive reviews or fundamentally improve your product to gain 1000s of repeat customers?

As Neil Patel says, “treat every kind of feedback you receive as a gift. It’s a free piece of information that you can use to improve and grow your business.” Basically, instead of being offended by negative feedback, think of it as a free, constant, and substantial source of insight into how you can improve. Many businesses pay top dollar for that type of guidance.

Brands that use customer feedback build loyalty

What can you do with customer feedback? Taking action on your customers’ feedback shows that you genuinely care. This not only makes your products more helpful to them but encourages them to stick by your side when they see their suggestions reflected. Your customers feel confident and satisfied, and you’re rewarded with insights, repeat purchases, and impactful long-term relationships with your customers. There’s nothing negative about that!

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