Picture this: The new patio furniture you ordered has arrived right in the middle of a jam-packed work week. Unfortunately, the only family member with free time to assist you is, well, not the most reliable character (we all have that family member, right?). You’re not feeling super confident that it’s going to turn out the way it looks on the box, but you’re too busy to give it your full attention. You just have to hope for the best.
You get word that the job is done, and you go to your backyard…
Only to find a handful of screws leftover.
The chairs and table all kinda look right. Still, you don’t want to plop down on any of those seats in fear that you may fall straight to the floor.
The Job Is “Done”
Someone took the time to complete the work of setting up your patio furniture, but you can’t trust the results. At best, the work is a waste of time.
The more frustrating truth is that you know you’re going to have to first disassemble the furniture. Then, you have to take extra time putting it back together, assuming you can find all the pieces.
Watch Out for Feedback Follies
Your customer feedback initiatives can be similarly perilous. If not given proper attention, you can end up with useless or misleading data.
I’ve listed out the following feedback follies in hopes that you’ll be able to avoid information that’s as hazardous to your decision-making as rickety patio furniture would be to Aunt Gladys.
- Never Soliciting Feedback: As much as we know we’re supposed to gather feedback, sometimes it slips further and further down the to-do list. You can’t get it wrong if you never start, but your business will be suffering for it.
- Too Small a Sample Size: Yes, you need qualitative feedback, but you can’t let that be your excuse not to reach out to a broad enough audience. Get a feel for how your product is playing out in a variety of settings.
- Relying Exclusively on Sales / Customer Success Conversations: Just because Jim came with a comment from Dr. Davis doesn’t mean that you’ve completed your customer feedback program for the year. Besides the sample size issue, Jim certainly doesn’t remember everything that Dr. Davis told him. You’re getting filtered information, based on whatever Jim thinks is or isn’t important.
- Leading Questions: Just as filtered information can skew your results, asking leading questions can hide your respondents’ true feelings.
- Stopping at Surface-Level Feedback: Respondents can sometimes jump to how they would solve the problem instead of stating their issue with a product. “I want this kind of grip on the device” is a lot less helpful than “I’m having trouble moving the device in these kinds of scenarios.” (This is highly related to our last article “Conquer Those Marketing Challenges with Clear Problem Definition.”)
Feedback Comes from a Multitude of Sources
You’ve got lots of choices when it comes to gathering feedback. Let’s consider a few:
- Social Media
- Customer Interactions
- In-person discussions, either an individual or group interview
- Online tools, like SurveyMonkey
Taken as a whole, you get the chance to see a real story emerge.
I’ve previously written about the value of measuring online activity to better understand your customers, so I won’t belabor the point here.
Let’s dig deeper into a few of the other sources mentioned.
Gathering Feedback Fragments
I gave sales reps and customer success folks a hard time earlier in saying you can’t fully rely on feedback gathered. And you can’t.
But that doesn’t mean you should throw out those conversations. They’re still useful points of data.
You do have to deal with the fact that the info might be biased to some degree, but there are still aspects of it that you can compare to other data you’ve collected.
Let’s say you were able to collect information from Dr. Smith when she filled out a survey, when she logged in to your website to review data, and from a conversation with the rep. Now you can look for how the data matches or doesn’t.
Is she unconsciously showing preference for something other than what she’s describing? Does the info from the rep need some follow-up based on what Dr. Smith said in her survey?
These are the sorts of questions you can answer once you have several sources.
Quick plug here… we’re hosting a webinar on Thursday, July 13th about the value of connecting data. This process of understanding customer sentiments doesn’t have to be as hard and as manual as it is now.
Taking Social Media Deeper with Sales Navigator
I recently turned on Sales Navigator for my LinkedIn account.
I’d been trying to connect with some folks that were going to be at a particular trade show since they had announced on LinkedIn that they would be going. Of course, LinkedIn loves to throw in restrictions on who you can’t talk to, so I gave the premium version a try.
The extended reach you can gain is useful, but I rarely use it for that purpose now.
My main reason to keep paying for the service: a better ability to listen to what potential customers are saying.
Now, I can add several people that fit my customer profile and engage when it makes sense. Only a small percentage of LinkedIn users actually post to their accounts, and it’s easy to miss those posts from the group you’re trying to hear the most when you rely solely on LinkedIn’s algorithm to serve it up to you. Sales Navigator will alert you to new posts.
This is where it’s easy to get wrapped up in spam-land if we’re not careful. A potential customer’s post isn’t the time to go into full-on sales mode. That said, engaging tastefully with a relevant comment makes any potential future conversations all the more possible.
There are also several options for social listening tools to be able to follow brand mentions and all sorts of other interactions across social platforms.
Regardless of which platform you’re on, remember that these interactions aren’t meant to be all about us. It’s about understanding the needs and interests of our customers so that we can clearly speak to their needs and concerns.
The Gold Standard: Surveys and Interviews
Quantitative and qualitative research: it still comes back to getting surveys completed and conducting interviews to understand how your customers are feeling and what they need.
Not every survey has to be a 15-question, multi-page experience. Getting some quick ratings for a Net Promoter Score (NPS) or a Customer Effort Score (CES) will be a big help.
For the qualitative side, you may conduct interviews in a group setting or one-on-one, but nothing replaces hearing from customers directly.
Visit customers in the hospital.
Meet with patients.
Can Customers Believe in Your Company?
Let’s get really specific about medical technology companies for a second. Whether you are releasing tools to help patients directly or to help physicians and hospital systems, you are asking people to believe that:
- Your technology is going to answer their needs.
- Your company is going to keep investing in this technology and in this customer base to support and to improve the benefit of using this product.
There are already some frightening stories out there about companies that no longer support what were once ground-breaking products, leaving customers stranded.
Whether a product comes from a startup or a Fortune 500, customers still have to wonder if that product will continue to see innovation over the coming years.
Your customers need to feel heard. They need to see progress. They need to know that you are going to help them do their jobs (physicians / hospitals) or enable their lifestyle (patients).
Feedback is your chance to understand how your customers feel about the promises your company is making with every advertisement.
Michael spends a great deal of time with the healthcare industry both professionally and personally, which gives him the perspective of what stakeholders on either side of the care equation need.
He began coding in 2008 and subsequently shifted his attention entirely to online marketing. Michael completed his MBA in 2018, focusing on the intersection of healthcare and marketing.