How to Get Actionable Feedback and Find Out What Clients Really Think

Everyone knows that clients can offer priceless insight into your business.

Your clients have a fresh perspective. They notice things that you don’t. They can tell you if you’re successfully meeting their needs. Or not.

And some businesses – like design, marketing, or branding agencies; interior design firms, freelancers, and contractors, among many others – rely on client feedback and collaboration to do their jobs.

Creative work demands a constant feedback loop between the client and the service provider.

But it’s not always easy to get clients to spill the beans. And it’s not always clear what to do with the client’s insight once you have it.

Client feedback, like any data, is only valuable if it’s actionable.

So, we’re here to help. As a creative business, we’ve become experts at collecting and acting on client feedback. And we’re excited to share what we know.

Here are our top techniques for collecting actionable client feedback.

Send follow-up emails

A simple email is one of the most effective techniques for gathering client feedback.

Email is still king when it comes to reaching people.

Hubspot shares that 99% of consumers check their email daily and that 73% of millennials prefer business communications to come via email.

It’s best to contact your clients after they’ve had the opportunity to experience your service. So, give them time to do so – and process the experience a bit – before reaching out.

Now, you could just make a blanket request for feedback.

But if there’s specific information that you’re hoping to learn, that’s not the best approach. We recommend including a survey with targeted questions (more on that below).

Keep your message short and sweet. Provide a link or clickable button to take the reader to the included survey. And sweeten the pot by offering a reward for completing the survey. This could be a discount for a future purchase, a gift card, or any other reward your clients would value.

And make sure it’s clear the email is from you. Far too many emails are generic emails that could have been sent by thousands of other businesses. This is where you should smartly incorporate your agency’s or business’s brand identity (including your logo and brand colors).

Finally, automate your email campaigns so that they send on a regular schedule triggered by your clients’ activity. Tools like Constant Contact, Intercom, MailChimp, and Drip are all worth looking into. And, once you’ve set these email campaigns up, they run automatically – making this a low-time-investment technique with great potential returns.

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The Art of the Survey

There’s a right way and a wrong way to create a survey.

Include too many questions, and you’ll discourage most users from participating.

Include too few questions, and your data will be incomplete or unreliable.

We recommend that you aim for 3-5 questions. This means you must design your survey with a targeted topic in mind.

You’ll gain the most from specific but open-ended questions.

When gathering feedback, you should be completely open to whatever opinions and observations your clients think are important enough to share. Limiting the participants to multiple choice answers or rating systems curtails the depth and range of responses you’ll get.

Leave a free field for the user to provide any other info they think you should know if there’s room. This “wild card” field is invaluable for learning what you don’t know you don’t know.

Survey apps like SurveyMonkey Zonka Feedback, and Typeform make it easy to embed a link to your survey right in your email. These services also store all of your responses for you to review and analyze.

So let’s recap:

  • Send follow-up emails after clients have had a chance to experience your product or service.
  • Automate your email delivery.
  • Offer a reward in exchange for completing a survey.
  • Aim for 3-5 questions per survey.
  • Ask specific, open-ended questions.
  • Have a plan for customer feedback analytics.

Build feedback collection into your website

Some businesses don’t just want client feedback – they need client feedback.

Maybe you’re a design, marketing, branding agency or a freelancer, and you need specific feedback about a project you’re working on for a client.

If your business is like ours, and it relies on collaboration with your clients, you’ve got to make the feedback process easy.

For instance, at crowdspring we’ve built client feedback tools into our website.

In our design and naming projects, clients can leave specific feedback directly for the creative or designer on each entry. In all of our design projects, from logo design to product design, clients (and collaborators) can contextually connect their feedback to specific areas of the design.

And, once a client chooses a winning design (or name), they can easily communicate with their creativity in a dedicated wrap-up area.

Plus, clients, including agency clients, can use our free focus group tool to quickly and easily get feedback on designs from clients, prospective customers, friends, and colleagues.

Our agency clients have an additional feedback tool available – our client presentation tool. This allows agency clients to present select design entries from a project to their client in a whitelisted, custom-branded mini-website. This mini-site is optimized to make providing feedback on each design simple and quick. Everyone can see all of the feedback on one convenient platform.

If your business is dependent on client collaboration and feedback, bake the process right into your website so that you and your clients can access all of the relevant information, materials, and feedback all in one place.

Tap your customer support team

Your support team deals directly with clients every single day.

They get the unvarnished, no-punches-pulled truth straight from your clients’ mouths. This means they have a wealth of knowledge you should be taking advantage of.

Here are 3 techniques for applying your customer support team’s insight…

Schedule regular check-ins

Set up regular check-ins to learn what issues clients are facing. Better yet, automate the process!

You can use a project management tool like Basecamp to send automated check-in questions on a regular (weekly or bi-weekly) schedule. Ask just a few questions to minimize the burden on your support team. And make sure the questions count.

  • Ask which issues or concerns arise most often. (Fixing these will positively impact a wide range of clients.)
  • Ask for feedback on any new initiatives. (New efforts may need refining. Your clients can guide that process.)
  • Ask if any high-priority problems have been reported and confirmed. (These are issues that need attention.)

Make these check-ins an automatic default activity. Building the process into your regular practices is an easy way to keep valuable client feedback flowing in.

And finally, be sure to create a protocol for following up on this info. The information is great. But, without action, you won’t gain much.

Encourage open internal communication

Foster an environment that supports open communication between support and other internal teams.

Your support team should know whom to contact if and when important customer concerns are reported. (Or if a client reaches out to customer support about their project instead of their project lead…) So, provide a brief guide with appropriate contacts and contact info for each team support may need to reach.

If your support team doesn’t know whom to contact – or worse, feel that they are not allowed to reach out with important information – their effectiveness is drastically restricted when issues arise.

Mine existing support records

Your support interactions are automatically recorded if your business is like most. Saved phone calls, chat transcripts, and support tickets provide valuable insight.

Take the time to read or listen to what your customers say. What drives them to reach out? Do they sound happy, sad, or angry?

Reading the messages customers share with your support team is a great way to peek into their frame of mind and see your agency or business from their perspective.

Look for patterns and repeating issues/concerns. These are the problems to prioritize solving.

Use feedback monitoring tools

Today’s consumers rely on online reviews. People proactively leave reviews for both positive and negative business interactions. And they seek out reviews when planning a purchase.

A 2017 study reveals that 93% of consumers say online reviews impact their purchase decisions.

Reviews are happening whether you ask for them or not. And your agency, firm, or business is gaining or losing clients as a result. So, tap into this resource and track the reviews that clients post. Luckily, some tools make this easy.

Google Alerts is a free online tool that will notify you via email whenever new content is posted about a specific topic. So, set up Google Alerts for your business so that you can stay effortlessly informed when people on the web are talking about you.

It’s best to follow up with online reviewers. This shows your audience that you care about and value their feedback. So, designate a team member to manage your Google Alerts and respond to online reviews whenever possible.

But, if you want more control over (and insight into) your online reputation data, consider a paid tool like Reputology. Reputology gathers all of your online mentions in one convenient place. But, even better, it allows you to measure and analyze the data.

Reputology explains that its “semantic analysis technology converts the unstructured content from reviews & feedback into actionable data.” So, no one needs to analyze content for actionable trends manually. This saves you time and makes it easier to act on your data.

These are only two of many available online reputation monitoring tools. Investigate your options and choose the one that’s best for your business.

A Final Word on Feedback

Every business is built on relationships. Inviting feedback and collaborating with your clients is essential to maintaining those relationships.

So, don’t treat feedback and client collaboration as something to do “if you get around to it.” Make it a central pillar of your agency, firm, or business.

Listening to your clients and cultivating those relationships will help you deliver a better product or service and grow your business faster.

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