It should come as no surprise that customers are eager to talk about their experiences, but what’s truly unfortunate is that too few companies are actually listening. As a result, many customers vent their frustrations over social media, leaving companies in the uneviable position of having to put out the fires caused by these comments. Worse still, many of these situations could be avoided if companies simply made it a priority to ask customers about their experiences in the first place!

Unhappy customers don’t just damage your brand’s online reputation though. They can also negatively impact your business in very tangible ways. According to statistics reported in a Help Scout blog post on customer service:

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What do these statistics tell us? Customer feedback matters. It’s important to take the time to listen to your customers. Smart business owners know this, and they are taking action.

Take, for example, the case of Alex Turnbull, CEO and Founder of Groove, who spent over 100 hours talking to his customers after he grew concerned about his company’s high churn rate. As the result of his proactive conversations, he discovered several actionable steps he was able to take to immediately improve his bottom line. He was also able to use his customer interviews to personally reassure customers and resolve their concerns.

How I Used Customer Feedback To Boost Conversions By 30%

Marketers spend an amazing amount of time and money trying to understand their target demographic. Every company wants to align their products and services to the needs of their customers so that they can improve sales and gain repeat business. As a result, knowing who your customers are and what challenges they’re experiencing can be considered an essential pursuit for all companies – small and large alike.

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But one thing many marketers fail to realize is that customers are more than happy to tell you what their pain points are – through the customer service department. Not only do they contact you to tell you there is a problem, they also give you the exact language they’re using to find a solution. There is no guessing at a customer persona or about a theoretical pain point. It’s all there, right in the contact they initiate. It’s marketing gold – and it’s available for free from your customer service department.

As the VP of marketing at When I Work, I’ve spent some serious time talking to customers in an effort to better understand the needs of our target audience. As a result, I was able to identify weaknesses and make changes that ultimately helped improve our conversion rates by 30%.

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Here’s how I did it:

  1. To start, I surveyed our website visitors and trial users and asked them to tell us what was preventing them from purchasing from us. We found that the biggest issue was education. Since then, we’ve beefed up our onboarding, created more extensive setup guide documentation, and are currently in the process of creating a new interactive setup wizard.
  2. Next, I took time to talk with users and visitors over live chat and found out that people don’t refer to us in the same way that we were referring to ourselves in our ads. Prior to talking with customers, we were testing hundreds of different messages in our ads. But after talking with our customers, we now focus on two main messages: “scheduling made easy” and “best scheduling app.”
  3. Finally, I dug deeper into some of our customer success numbers and past conversations with customers and found out that people who attend our webinars typically provide a 47% higher LTV (lifetime value) than those who do not. With this knowledge in hand, we incentivized people to join our webinar by giving them a free month for attending.

By applying the knowledge I gained by working in When I Work’s customer service team to our paid ads, I was able to generate a 3X higher click-through rate and reduce our cost-per-click by 50%. I’m not saying this to brag – I’m saying this to point out the amazing resources that already exist within your company. You, too, can take advantage of the data coming in to your company for free and use it to optimize your campaigns in the same way.

Try It Yourself

Are you interested in finding out what your customer support department can teach you? If you can, set aside a few weeks to actually work in customer service. If you can’t, consider meeting with your top service representatives. Ask them what they’re hearing. Leave your ego out of the meeting and don’t judge – some of the things you hear may surprise you. But if you can consider this feedback with an open mind, you’ll come away with a clear vision of how things need to change.

Besides talking to your service department, make it a point to look for chances to talk to customers yourself. Customers enjoy feeling heard, and taking the time to seek their input will lead to improved brand sentiment and loyalty to your company. Your clients need to know you care.

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Finally, be sure to track the feedback you receive. When you’re in the moment, it’s easy to think you’ll remember an important comment you hear, but later – after you’ve taken another dozen phone calls or chat sessions – you may not be able to recall it at all. Find a system that allows you to not only track, but monitor improvement in that area as well, and you’ll be well on your way to significant conversion rate increases of your own.

Have you ever worked in customer service in order to improve your marketing, onboarding or other business processes? What valuable insight did you gain? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Comments
  • Really enjoyed your post Sujan!

    There’s nothing more frustrating than a bad user experience. We are just starting out and our audience is small but it gives us the advantage of being able to talk to our customers personally. Every response is a learning curve, but that’s not to say you should make every change that gets suggested to you.

    • Hi Luke,
      That’s great! Keep up the work. Thanks for reading.

  • Great article Sujan. We get so hung up on the numbers, we sometimes forget to just ask people what they want or what they like to read most. Qualitative analysis can go a long way. Kind of like a story we wrote about the marketers at Kevy who combine qualitative and quantitative to optimized content and conversions: http://blog.optimizely.com/2015/01/09/this-startup-has-a-solid-method-to-optimize-content-marketing/

    • Karl – Thanks! Exactly. Numbers have only so much depth. When you add actual human interactions you can do so much more.

  • Very nice case study Sujan. Thanks a lot. I’ve also increased our conversion rate at PayLane thanks to talking to our customers, so I highly recommend it.

    • Karol,
      That’s what I like to hear! 🙂 Thanks for reading.

  • Great post.

    In our work with TELUS (a Canadian telco), we’ve spent quite a few hours doing “ride-alongs” with their customer support agents and they never fail to produce incredibly valuable insights. They’ve allowed us to produce better digital experiences for customers, as well as helped us design better tools for the agents themselves. When an agent is better able to serve customers, the entire customer experience benefits.

    Thanks again for your post.

    P.S. I shared it on researchers.io

    • Hi Scott, Ride-alongs are also a great option. Glad to hear that really helped you out. Keep it up! 🙂

  • Nandini Jammi

    Nice work! I love how you used live chat to capture those first impressions from your visitors. Live chat is good for so much more than just sales and custserv.

  • Nathan Thomas

    Hey Sujan

    Thanks for yet another great article, you’re a legend!

    Our team have put together a resource that can help people with step one of your three step process above; the survey stage. It’s a report on the 49 best feedback questions to ask customers and users.

    Here’s the link: http://get.usabilitytools.com/49-questions/

    All the best,
    Nathan from UsabilityTools

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