Customers Are Telling You Everything You Need To Succeed – If You’re Willing To Listen

customer feedback

I’ve had more conversations than I can count about the importance of customer feedback. What to do with it, how to make it actionable, how to even make sense of it.

But, if these conversations have one thing in common, it’s this:

We’ve been looking at the wrong end of the stick.

When banks and credit card companies were making the push for EMV chips, they focused on improving security for the customer without once asking for customer input. What was the result? An angry backlash over how EMV chips were slowing down card processing, increasing waiting times and keeping customers on line at the store longer than ever.

When you don’t actually listen to what your customers are saying, you can expect to get the same blowback they got.

The Wrong Approach To Customer Feedback

When a team hears “How do I do X” enough times, they start to focus on the problems of X. Let’s add features. Let’s fix our X problems. We need people to be happier with X.

But, “How do I do X” feedback isn’t actually about X. Just like, in these questions…

  • How are you different compared to Y?
  • I’m sure I’m wrong, but I thought Z…?

…it’s not really about Y or Z.

The challenge is in the question, not the subject. “How do I…”, “How are you different…”, “I’m sure I’m wrong, but I thought…”

That first half of the question is really where your focus needs to be. It has everything a team needs in order to determine the core issue, whether it’s related to user experience, product marketing or overall positioning.

Understanding The Question With The Spotlight Framework

At Drift, we put together the Spotlight Framework: a handy way of outlining what your customers and prospects are actually asking of you, and how to categorize that feedback based on what the real action – for both them and your business – really needs to be.

User Experience – feedback that starts with…

  • How do I…?
  • What happens when…?
  • I tried to…

Product Marketing – feedback that starts with…

  • Can you/I…?
  • How do you compare to…?
  • How are you different than…?
  • Why should I use you for/to…?

Positioning – feedback that starts with…

  • I’m probably not your target customer, but…
  • I’m sure I’m wrong, but I thought…

Are you getting customer feedback you can’t quite understand? Or feedback you think you understand, but don’t know how to put into an actionable box?

Ignore the subject and keep your eyes on the first half of their question. It’s not what they’re asking about, but how they’re asking it – and if that how fits into one of the three buckets above, you’ll know what your customers are really asking you is not their specific X, Y or Z issue, but an issue related to user experience, product marketing or positioning.

There’s your action item. Use the Spotlight Framework to boil down customer feedback to its core issue, and then use that to figure out what it is about your business – whether it’s customers struggling with your product, not knowing what your product can do for them or not thinking your product is for them in the first place – that you actually need to focus your time and energy on.

Once you’ve got that settled, everything else should fall into place.

Customer feedback is your company’s secret weapon – but, only if you’re really listening to what they have to say.

Do any of these questions ring a bell? Share your own stories below of how you’ve looked at customer feedback in a new way.

P.S. We talk about this stuff regularly on Seeking Wisdom, my podcast about personal and professional growth. Subscribe on iTunes here.