Happy Customers: Qualitative Feedback

This is part 4 of our series on Happy Customers, previous segments are available in our archives.

How does that make you feel?

By now you know how to measure happiness and use it as a segmentation tool to understand what makes your current customers happy today. But what about tomorrow? What about the improvements you are considering making that none of your customers have seen yet? No segmentation can help you evaluate these options since you have no data.

The only way to understand how the future will affect your customers’ happiness is to speak with them. That might not sound very data driven, but you need to treat customer discussions like data collection exercises! If you don’t, you may unwittingly introduce bias into the feedback you collect which will drive you to false conclusions.

When getting ready to talk to customers about new features and updates, make sure to always do the following:

  • Randomly Select Customers. Don’t just talk to the customers you already know well, or the ones that are the easiest to reach. Always randomize the customers you collect feedback from to ensure they are a good sample. Remember that not all customers will have time to talk to you so choose a large enough group that even though not all will participate you’ll still have enough interviews.
  • Always ask the same Questions. It can be tempting to simply sit down with customers to have a discussion about prototypes and designs. However, such unstructured discussions give you unevent feedback and make it difficult to avoid bias. Be sure to have the same set of questions for all customers.
  • Focus on Feedback, not Imagination. Customers often have a hard time imagining ideal solutions to their problems, but they are great at providing feedback about potential solutions you put in front of them. Instead of asking them how they would like you to solve something, show them some options and allow them to choose.

Those of you familiar with survey design will find these familiar! That’s because the same rules of good survey design apply to customer interviews as well. There is a great detailed breakdown of survey design available from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Even after doing these things it might seem difficult to turn qualitative feedback into data driven decisions, so tomorrow we’ll cover more sophisticated models of processing feedback (known as Customer Satisfaction models). They will help you turn your customer interviews into a highly data driven exercise!


Quote of the Day: Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.Marcus Aurelius Antoninus in Meditations.