How to Create Customer Feedback Loops at Scale

How to Create Customer Feedback Loops at Scale

According to a study by Bain & Company, 80% of companies say they’re customer centric, yet only 8% of customers agree.

Think about that for a second.

How many of your customers do you think would agree that you are customer centric? Do you know for sure?


This is important because according to a study by Monetate, 79% of customers will buy from a company again if the experience is good, but 89% of them would switch to a competitor if the experience wasn’t satisfactory. And nearly everyone agreed that the online experience influences their decision to buy.

Going back to the Bain & Company study, I wonder how so many businesses can be so off the mark when it comes to how their customers perceive them.

Reflecting on my own experiences as a customer both on- and offline, I think it’s due to the missed opportunities where they could have asked from my feedback but didn’t.

  • Welcome emails
  • First purchase emails
  • Companies I’ve been buying from for years
  • Companies I’ve been subscribed to, but never bought from

Most don’t even seem to acknowledge they’re using a channel where it’s easier for me to reply than it was for them to send.

It’s especially bad for online purchases. You already have my contact info, you know exactly what I bought – why not use that info and ask me for feedback about the product you just sold me?

Wouldn’t this only help you to hone your upsale offers, or collect testimonials, or know what to test next?


Given that the research shows considerable revenue lifts for companies who invest those areas – and the drawbacks seem to be pretty terrible if the customer experience isn’t a good…

…it seems to me the benefits only compound for you if you took a quick break from pushing sales & just asked

“Hey, why did you (or didn’t you) buy from us?”

Perhaps it’s apathy. Or fear of getting real feedback? Or an inflated sense of self-importance that trickles down from the C-Suite that makes you think you know what I want so well that you can’t be bothered to ask me for my feedback.

Or maybe it’s innocuous & you think there just isn’t the time to collect feedback?

If that’s the case, keep reading – because most feedback gathering can be automated & integrated at nearly every point of your customer’s lifecycle.

With the right framework, and a little strategic thinking, you’ll be gathering feedback from all manner of leads & customers.  If you actually act upon the feedback you collect, it can be used to influence & transform your business on every level.

Understanding The Feedback Loop


At it’s core, a feedback loop is a system that helps companies to gather external information about their services/products, add to that their own internal hunches and insights and in the end improve the service/product they were offering in the first place. image credit

By building feedback experiments, measuring results and extrapolating insights, the goal is to learn something specific about your different visitor, lead & customer segments to improve some other area of your business.

For example, if you wanted to form more strategic partnerships, you might automate a survey that goes to the customers who have been buying from you for 6 months.

Why do they shop with you? What’s their lifestyle like? Where else do they shop online? Each of these questions can lead you to new partnerships & as your customer base grows, you will be provided with a continual source of new insights.

Do NOT Limit This To One Area!

You should be looking to gather feedback at every opportunity possible.

Some ideas include

For Non-Customers

  • Interactive chat or surveys on high touch sales pages (whichever drives more response)
  • Interactive surveys on category pages (help refine your content strategy by category)
  • Triggered survey for non-logged in returning visitor who has navigated multiple pages on site

For Leads

  • The moment they subscribe to your email list or
  • Right after they’ve consumed your lead magnet (Read: Optimizing your Autoresponder)
  • If they haven’t opened an email in some time
  • If they open, click, but never buy

For Customers

  • After buying their first product from you
  • After buying multiple products from you or
  • After buying from you for several months
  • Customer feedback forums
  • Interactive chat inside the app

For Former or Non-Converting Customers

  • When they haven’t bought for a while
  • If they didn’t become customers after free trial

Hopefully it’s easier to see how really getting specific with who you’re trying to get feedback from can reveal insight for each type of lead & customer.

Depending on the goals of your feedback loop, this insight might be used to reduce churn & improve customer lifetime value, preemptively address major customer service issues, improve ux & design flows, convert more leads into customers, or rework your value proposition to further distinguish you from the competition.

::ahem:: This seems to be an appropriate time to remind you to stop putting off segmenting your customer database.

Getting Feedback From Non-Customers

Visitors to your websites can be a great source of feedback, but you don’t have any identifiable information about them (no email, social profiles etc), you have to get the info on the spot.

For that you can use either on-site survey tools – gathering multiple choice or rating scale responses – or live chat (for high touch pages).

The advantage is that while they are there to mainly help guide visitors to the right resources, you are also constantly learning on what is not clear, what needs improvements, what can be removed and so on – effective feedback loop in action.

On-site Surveys In Action

On-site surveys can be used to direct visitors to the right pages by asking questions related to or feedback on whatever is displayed on the page.


Vero uses this to great effect on their landing page. After being on their landing page for more than 30 seconds without taking action, the following pop-up will appear: image credit


Depending on which answer they choose, they will get a different call to action. For example when you click on the first option, you will be greeted with this:

This gives them an opportunity to survey their visitors without asking them to fill anything in.

It is there to help, but at the same time it gives better understanding of what are the reasons that people navigate away. Using this data allows Vero to refine their copy strategy without “guessing”.

How NitroPDF does it


NitroPDF uses the same tool a bit different, instead of trying to answer possible questions, they are using it to better understand their visitor’s behavior: image credit

This example pops-up on their pricing page. The question is very specific and allows them to get data on the needs of their potential customers which they can later use throughout the site.

Service providers:

On-site Live Chat In Action

Alternatively to on-site surveys, you can have on-site live chat.


It might look something like this: For Ez Texting, using Olark’s livechat widget on their pricing page helped to increase signups by 31%.

Accounting company CheckMark also saw a 20% increase in new sales within just a few months of implementing live-chat. Imagine how much more that could be if they used that data to improve the copy leading to those chat pages?

One of the advantages of live chat is that visitors really get ALL their questions answered by a real person. If you sell something technical or your offer raises questions than having live chat capability can help to reduce any friction to buying.

Service providers:

Gathering Feedback From Leads

Using the feedback from non-leads is great, but only if you use it to help improve your actual leadflow.

But what happens when you start building feedback loops into your follow-up communications with leads?

How Monthly1k.com Was Started


Noah Kagan’s AppSumo had a great new product, How To Make a $1,000 a Month Business. The product had been well received by the initial test group, it was delivering exactly what it promised. Great.

Fast forward to the official launch date.

A highly targeted email campaign launched to 30,000 people.

Product was great, list was highly targeted – so just wait for the money to start rolling in, right?

Only 30 people bought it on the official launch, that’s a conversion rate of just 0.1%. Shit.

The Solution – Ask Using A Survey


Something clearly wasn’t resonating with the target audience.

The solution wasn’t so much in the action (send a feedback survey) but to whom (segmentation!) the survey was sent.

The survey went to people who had opened the email, clicked through but hadn’t bought. The logic was that group of people  showed some interest but in the end didn’t buy.

The survey had 4 simple questions:

  1. Were you at least interested in buying? YES or NO
  2. Be specific about the answer
  3. What’s holding you back from starting your business?
  4. Should we make our support sumo do a dance video?

Responses from anyone that was not interested in buying where deleted immediately (can’t help people who don’t want to be helped).Then, sorted the top reasons of people who wanted to buy but didn’t.

Armed with data, they completely redesigned the landing page using the customer’s language & “business type” to provide answers to most pressing fears and concerns.


That one survey literally turned the whole product around and from there on in, it sold a lot better and conversions from email campaigns went up as well.

Read the full story here: http://okdork.com/2013/10/14/how-to-use-surveys-to-get-insane-results/

How MarketResearch.com Asks New Subscribers If They Need Help

MarketResearch.com  Market Research Reports and Industry Analysis

A couple of days ago, Tommy signed up for MarketResearch.com, a company that helps marketers find relevant research and industry reports.


Within 30 minutes upon signing-up he got the following email:

Realistically MarketResearch.com is probably just using this email to reduce friction for sales.

But notice how they’re also offering search assistance, document reviews & sample data?

The feedback from this email could be used to improve UX and design of the site to get more people self-serving their own needs, freeing up Frank – the research specialist – to do more important things.

Getting Feedback From First Time Customers

First time customers are important when it comes to your survival as a business.

They don’t yet have any experience with you so no matter what happened with previous firsts, this is your chance to start it off right.

And by doing that, it’s far more likely they’ll come back later for more business. To make sure that the initial experience is as good as possible, you need to know how to first time customers perceived their experience so you can get insights into what to change/test next.

How Audi Gathers Feedback From First Time Customers

The first two examples are taken from Jason Fried. A few days after purchasing a new car from an Audi dealer, Jason got an email from them asking to rate his experience of buying a new car.


This is what the survey looked like: image credit

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with a 1-10 rating survey, something that Jason found off-putting was the sensationalized language.

jason fried

“Ease of looking at dealer’s inventory” – great, no problems there. A 10, right? Well… was it OUTSTANDING? How about TRULY EXCEPTIONAL?[…] I can’t put my name on that sort of endorsement. So…?”

[…] I find these sorts of things great reminders of how important it is to choose the right words. Don’t overshoot, don’t sensationalize. Be modest with language. Find the right fit and leave it alone.”

With surveys, it’s important to make sure you’re only asking the most relevant questions – if it takes more than a couple minutes to complete, the survey is probably too long.

We know from different studies that the more fields/questions/choices you give to the user, they’ll be that much less likely to take action.

Sadly, Audi doesn’t seem to know that. Instead of just asking simple questions like:  “Were you satisfied with the experience of buying the car? How can we make it even better the next time?” They decided to go the other way and overwhelm the user.

How Zingerman’s Deli Collects Feedback From First Time Customers

In contrast with Audi, Zingerman’s – an Ann Arbor based mail order deli – wanted to essentially get the same information  – how satisfied the customer was and how can it be made even better?


This is their version of that survey: image credit

This is a good, short, friendly feedback asking. No need to click anywhere, no long surveys with multiple choice questions. Just one question, right there in the e-mail. It that sense, it’s not really an “survey” at all.

It follows their overall friendly tone of voice and works perfectly.

Even asking for explanation for why the score was given seems logical and it is more than likely that most customers not only gave the score but also explained for why it was was it was.

Sure, there are situations where you need more info than that. But the point is that you have to take the time to craft a valuable customer survey to make it seem like a logical process.

Collecting Reviews & Feedback From Repeat Buyers

Don’t stop with collecting feedback from first time buyers.

There’s a whole segment of customers willing to provide reviews & ratings – sometimes in exchange for a little perk.


Sports company Evo-Gear, understood the value of reviews and split-tested 3 different approaches in a single email, which gained them 280 reviews on a single product.

The tactics where:

  1. A simple basic request for a product review
  2. Email suggesting that  a review would help support the community of other customers by giving good shopping advice
  3. Email announcing a contest with a prize valued at $1,000 for a review

In the end, the approach that hinted at community converted around the same as the control,  and the contest approach’s initial conversion rate was 5.6% – roughly double the amount as the control.

If these are the results of a single campaign, imagine what these results might look like were it scaled across all their products?

What kind of contests and/or incentives can you use to boost the number of reviews you’re getting?


Taking it a step further, Amazon has the Vine Voices program – which hand picks the best reviewers from across the site & sends them new and pre-released products to use and review.

“We invite reviewers to participate in the Vine program based on feedback from other customers. A reviewer’s rank is determined by the overall helpfulness of all their reviews, factoring in the number of reviews they have written.”


Amazon also makes a game out of reviewing their products, giving a leaderboard for their most helpful reviewers.

If you have frequent or repeat customers, why not introduce them to each other and make a game out of providing quality feedback?

Building Feedback Into The Product – Kindle’s Mayday Button

Imagine that 50% of your customers are over 50 and 27% of them are over 60.


They love the the idea of owning your product, but often find themselves afraid of using it because the technology is too “new” for them.

This very may well have been the case in September 2013 when Amazon launched the Kindle Fire HDX with a revolutionary new feature – the “Mayday” button. Always available on-device video tech support.

The words Amazon Revolutionizes Customer Support was used a quite a lot, because for the first time ever, customers had real time access to tech help that could see what they saw on their devices and if needed, take total control over the device.

For a traditionally less tech-savvy demographic in the consumer market, this feature makes a lot of sense.

In-App Live Support Is A Feedback Goldmine


image credit

From an feedback point of view – what Amazon created is about the best example of a feedback loop in action.

On the surface, they have a customer support tool, but in the background, they’ve incorporated usability testing that shows their UX designers where people get “stuck”.

It’s perfect for the user and the company – users get their problems solved and questions answered.

Amazon gets real time feedback on the pain points in the software and/or hardware and use that data to make necessary UX/UI changes.


Now, you don’t have to be Amazon to take advantage of this. Using Live Chat solution O-Lark, Unbounce builds live support right into their app that helps them communicate with customers when they need it most.

Getting Feedback From Non-Converting Customers

What do you do with all those people who sign up for free-trials but don’t convert?

Instead of letting them slip away, build a feedback loop into the end of your email onboarding process to learn why people didn’t convert.

How Vero Collects Feedback on the “Win-Back” Campaign

This is exactly what Vero did, they sent a simple, personal email one week after the customers trial has expired. All automated of course.


Looks like this: image credit

The advantages of this are 2 fold.

First, Vero gets a great amount of information on why people decided not to use them (huge help when making future product decisions).

Second, The number of people who complete this survey is around 2%, and of those around half will end up giving Vero another try.

Those numbers aren’t massive, but then again, getting more people to open the email and take the survey is something that can be tested & improved upon.

How many other businesses have contacted you for feedback asking why you didn’t continue? Is this something that you can use in your business?

How Listening To Feedback Helped Bring In $21,243 For ClickMinded

SEO Training  Digital Marketing Courses   More   ClickMinded   Learn how search engine optimization fundamentally works.

Tommy Griffith is the face behind ClickMinded, an internet marketing training course focusing on bringing more customers to your site.

When he was just coming out with his product and after some initial success on Udemy with selling his course, he decided to also try and sell it through AppSumo.

The team over at AppSumo agreed that it would be an perfect product for their audience.

Fast-forward to morning of the launch of the product on AppSumo.

After initial sales, the product had 2.5 / 5 rating after 10 reviews. The very same product had always received at least 4 stars on Yelp and the online class over at Udemy had equally good rating.


Something was not right. Image Credit

There Was No Discount!

Turned out that every single negative review wasn’t actually complaining about the quality of the course itself, no.

They were complaining about the fact that there was no discount on the product.

That was something that the team had warned Tommy about but at the time he decided to ignore it.

Side-note: 99,99% products featured at AppSumo come with steep discounts.

After dropping the price, refunding everyone had at bought it at the original price and re-sending the offer later in the week, more positive reviews started coming in, and the initial negative reviewers were slowly starting to change their reviews after some additional hand holding.

By the end of the campaign, the rating had gone up from 2.5 to 4.5 and in 8 days managed to bring in total revenue of $21.243. All thanks to asking for feedback, using it and making changes. Not bad.

Read the full story here: http://www.clickminded.com/why-appsumo-is-going-to-keep-crushing-it/


As we have shown, feedback can be used in all kind of different ways.

Be it getting product reviews, as a question and answer tool with on-site feedback, turning around failing products or simply getting back past customers who have tried your product but for whatever reason did not go forward with using it after the trial ended.

Building feedback loops into your products is good for everyone: for customers it shows that the company actually cares about it’s products, services and the people using it.

For companies it’s a great tool to use in your in understanding how people are using your products, what they like about it, don’t like about. Later take that data and change things around for even more success

Are you using feedback loops in your company already? If not yet, how are you planning on implementing them?

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Join the conversation Add your comment

  1. What a goldmine…

    I didn’t understand that bit – what “control” refers to ?
    In the end, the approach that hinted at community converted around the same as the control, and the contest approach’s initial conversion rate was 5.6% – roughly double the amount as the control.

    Again, this article is pure gold, thanks so much.

    1. Cool, didn’t know that, I’ll use the fact that I’m French as an excuse on this occasion ;)

  2. “..fear of getting real feedback?”

    In the early days of our business, above anything else, this was probably the biggest hurdle to overcome. Its a fear well worth getting over though because you can learn so much. Certainly wished we done it earlier. Will have to look at further segmenting the surveys as we only survey all buyers (first time or not) via e-mail and on-site exit surveys of non-buyers.

    One of interesting things I’ve found is that surveys prompt some unhappy buyers who wouldn’t otherwise contact you directly about major problems they had (like a defective product) even though you have other support channels like e-mail, live chat, phone numbers etc. Perhaps people feel safer to vent via a form?

    While this is only a small segment the great thing is that when you contact them they are delighted that you even acknowledged them let alone offer them a solution (refund, exchange etc.) and can end up going from a bitter, passive customer to a very happy one.

  3. Looks like I’ll have to set aside some time to read this one Peep!

  4. One of the most important ways of getting feedback from your customers is getting on the phone with them or even handling customer service for a couple of days.

    Thx for the article !

  5. Any chance you can add a print-friendly version button? I print these out and share them with my staff. Thanks!

  6. Super helpful post, Ott. Thank you! You might also be interested in mention.com for gathering feedback and insights into your community’s interest without having to ask for it. Glad to provide more info or give yo a demo. Just let me know!

  7. Really helpful article. Tomorrow I start the tests. I wonder what will come of this. Thank you :)

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How to Create Customer Feedback Loops at Scale