Mastering customer feedback management: Best practices and tools for success

Customer Experience

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What’s your business’s strategy for managing customer feedback? If you don’t have one or it’s not producing the results you need, it’s time to take a closer look at what data you’re collecting and how you’re analyzing and using its insights.  

Companies with a customer feedback management system see higher customer satisfaction and loyalty. For example, FabFitFun saw a 49% decrease in complaints after implementing its customer feedback management process. 

Do you want to see similar results in your organization? In this article, we’ll tell you how to develop a customer feedback management system, and share best practices and tools for success.

Understanding customer feedback management

Customer feedback management (CFM) is the process of collecting data from your customers and using it to inform business changes to improve the customer experience. It’s part of a customer-centric approach to business growth.

Feedback management is a looped process that involves collecting feedback, analyzing for insights, making a change, and collecting feedback again to see if your changes had the desired impact. The process can be repeated as often as necessary until you get a positive result. 

Why customer feedback management is important

Collecting customer feedback is only as effective as if you act on the information you learn. Your company could collect mountains of surveys, customer support transcripts, and customer information, but if you’re not using it to create a better user experience, then it’s a wasted exercise. 

In addition to increasing customer satisfaction, here are the main benefits of collecting customer feedback:

Helps you modify your customer personas

Your marketing team likely uses several customer personas to develop marketing strategies and campaigns. These ideal customer profiles represent who your business is trying to sell to. Through customer feedback, you can learn how your customers think and act. This can help you update your customer personas so future marketing campaigns and products can better meet the needs of actual customers. 

Helps plan product roadmaps

When you better understand your customers’ needs, you can plan product roadmaps that solve their pain points and problems. It can also help you triage bugs to fix immediately and which to include as software enhancements during the next iteration.

Helps you understand what’s working and what’s not

Customer feedback can help you understand what’s working and what’s not working to your customer’s satisfaction. Here are some examples of what you can discover by analyzing customer feedback:

  • Why isn’t this marketing campaign driving sign-ups?
  • Why has there been an increase in customer drop-offs last quarter?
  • Why are customers not purchasing upsells?
  • Why are customers leaving items in their carts and not finishing their purchases? 

Help improve your website or app design

Real user feedback is the best gauge of how well your recent website redesign or app update works. You can use feedback from beta testers to see which changes work and which are missed or not working as expected.

Builds customer loyalty and increases customer retention

Being a customer-centric business will earn you customer loyalty only if you act based on their feedback. If you’re consistently collecting feedback and customers are not seeing any changes being made, they’ll likely stop giving feedback, and they’ll lose trust in your brand.

Customers who feel heard are more likely to remain loyal to your brand and refer you to their friends or colleagues. 

Types of customer feedback

Customer feedback is more than collecting survey responses. There are many types of feedback you can collect, and together they can add immense value to your organization: 

Direct feedback (or solicited feedback)

Direct feedback is obtained by the company asking for the customer’s opinion formally, such as by completing an online survey or submitting a review or testimonial. While direct feedback is helpful because it’s very specific, be mindful of how it was obtained and consider that in your feedback analysis.

Indirect feedback (or unsolicited feedback)

Indirect feedback isn’t explicitly requested by the company but comes from sources like social media and comments on blog articles. It’s the most honest form of feedback as it wasn’t specifically requested. 

Formal feedback vs informal feedback

Formal feedback is similar to direct feedback, as it comes from a traceable, formal process like a survey. Informal feedback is obtained through less official channels, like picking up on an offhand comment from a caller in a help desk call.

Customer complaints vs customer feedback

It’s important to make the distinction between customer complaints and feedback:

  • Customer complaints will generally be negative feedback relating to product/service issues, an interaction with a team member (such as a help desk ticket), or another experience that didn’t meet their expectations.
  • Customer feedback is usually solicited before, during, or after a customer experience (such as asking customers to fill out a feedback survey after contacting customer support or purchasing a product). This feedback is typically a mix of positive, neutral and negative and usually relates to the customer’s experience (not general brand feedback).

Best Practices for Customer Feedback Management

Customer feedback management is a looped process that should be purposefully planned and executed to benefit your company and customers. Here are a few best practices for developing a successful customer feedback management process:

1. Define objectives

Customer feedback can provide enough information and insights to keep you busy for years. However, too much data makes it hard to notice any clear patterns or trends. Instead, you’ll want to narrow the focus of your efforts to target specific objectives. 

Then, use a customized process for each objective you have. Depending on these objectives, you may need to refine your feedback collection methods and reporting frequency. 

For example, if your objective is to inform feature additions for your next software update, collect feedback data from product surveys or help desk transcripts to understand what your product is missing. If your objective later is to test the effectiveness of a newly launched feature, your data collection sources may change to support tickets raised about that feature, and contacting customers who requested that feature to get their feedback directly.  

2. Customize your feedback process to your company

How you manage customer feedback will be unique to your business. There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy. Based on your objectives, look for data sources to collect customer feedback to support your objectives. These may include:

  • Customer surveys
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys
  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) surveys 
  • Customer Effort Scores (CES)
  • Social media monitoring
  • Online reviews (app & product reviews included)
  • Support tickets and bug reports
  • Help desk transcripts
  • Customer complaints
  • Self-service resources and support portal analytics
  • Product sales, upsell, and renewal data
  • Email conversations
  • Focus groups
  • Community & forums

Create a unique feedback process for each feedback objective, and customize your data collection efforts to collect targeted feedback that speaks to that goal.  For example, you may start with more general data collection methods from places like social media and online reviews, then as your objectives get more refined you include feedback from help desk conversations (related to your objective) and bug reports.  

3. Collect feedback from multiple channels and customers

We know that not all feedback is created equal. Some feedback data is more reliable than others. For example, when customers are forced to answer a survey, they’re more likely to give neutral or inaccurate responses just to move on to the next step. Customer feedback that’s voluntarily given (like in social media posts or blog articles ] is more likely to be truthful because it was their choice to provide feedback. 

When possible, choose a cross-section of different types of feedback, including:

  • Direct and indirect
  • Solicited and unsolicited
  • Customer support transcripts
  • General customer information
  • Specific profile data 

4. Categorize feedback to generate insights

Once you’ve collected data from multiple channels and sources, you need to develop a categorization system to generate the most valuable insights. These categories will depend on your objectives. In some cases, your data can fit into multiple categories. 

Here are some examples of objectives and potential categories:

To plan for the next app version release
  • Navigation
  • Functionality
  • Login process
  • Bug reports
  • Self-service tools
To understand why customers aren’t renewing their software subscription
  • Pricing
  • Features
  • Usability
  • Renewal process
  • Payment processing
To understand why specific marketing campaign wasn’t generating enough leads
  • Advertising platform
  • Ad creative
  • Pricing/Offer


For many objectives, your categories will be determined after your feedback has been collected. While deciding and assigning feedback categories can be done manually, when you’re dealing with lots of data, it becomes unmanageable. It increases the chances of misinterpretation or data entry errors (unless you use an AI-driven customer feedback management software like Idiomatic to help process and categorize large amounts of customer feedback data). 

When you use a customer feedback management tool like Idiomatic, the software analyzes all your data to determine the most common themes and categories. It then categorizes your feedback for you, saving you time and minimizing user errors in manual tagging and analysis. 

👉 Learn why Idiomatic’s customer feedback analytics software is the preferred choice for customer-centric companies. 

5. Take action on your insights

Once you have your results and know what changes need to be made, it’s time to take action. Make the necessary business, process, or product modifications to solve the most common problems the feedback identifies. 

Keep in mind that you can’t please everyone. Some actionable insights may be incompatible with your business goals, or you need to prioritize feedback based on business impact and resources to solve. Here are some examples:

  • Customers request the addition of non-eco-friendly materials in your product when your company is a sustainable eco-brand. 
  • A small set of customers are asking for a feature update to accommodate a niche that your company isn’t looking to serve. 
  • Customer insights include feature requests that can’t happen due to copyright or licensing legalities. 
  • You prioritize updating the color of your call-to-action buttons on your website (because it’s a quick-win your web team can do easily and quickly in-house) over the implementation of a brand new custom checkout system for your online store (which requires research and support of an external web development agency). 

Don’t compromise your company values or ethics to please a customer. Your goal is to balance giving the customer what they need while maintaining a viable business model. 

6. Track your results

After you’ve made the changes, it’s time to measure how effectively they’ve met your customers’ needs. Depending on the change, give it some time for your existing customers (or potential customers, depending on your objectives) to experience the change. For example, a pricing update could be reviewed within a few weeks or months. A software feature request may need time for customers to experience and use it before they can decide if it meets their needs. 

Look for metrics you can use to track the success of your changes. These will likely include re-distributing the same surveys and reviewing feedback and data from the same sources as your first data collection. 

7. Repeat as necessary

If, after analyzing your data, you determine the change had the desired effect on your customers (and your business), then you can close that feedback loop for now. Keep monitoring it to ensure it continues to meet customer expectations. 

If you continue to get the same negative feedback, it’s time to begin the loop again and see what other actionable insights you can find in the data. Make the new change(s) and track your results. Keep repeating these steps until the problem is solved for the highest majority of your customers. 

Where to collect and manage customer feedback

There are multiple ways to collect user feedback for your customer feedback management system. Here are a few of the most common ones:

Custom customer surveys

There are many online survey tools you can use to gather specific feedback from your customers. The benefit of these survey tools is that they’re usually flexible, so you can choose your survey length, branding, question types, and how you want to review the results. These are some of the most popular customer feedback tools for businesses because they require very little investment (or can be done using free or freemium tools) and can be created and distributed quickly. 

👉Here are 130+ survey questions you can ask your customers. 

Net Promoter Score surveys

Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys collect all positive and negative feedback to create a benchmark for current and future business performance. Your customers complete a short survey, and based on how they rank your company, they are classified as a promoter (happy customers), passive (neither happy nor unhappy customers), or detractors (unhappy customers). Your goal is to have more promoters than detractors or passives, which means you have a loyal customer base.

You can use your Net Promoter Score to help determine your objectives (such as to increase customer loyalty). It can also be used to monitor the effectiveness of any changes you make based on customer feedback.

👉Want to create your own NPS survey? Get started with these 18 great NPS questions. 

Customer Satisfaction surveys

A Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Score measures customers’ happiness with your brand, products, and interactions. This survey is only one question that asks the customer how satisfied they are with your organization or specific product or interaction. 

Scores are shown as percentages, where 100% is a “perfect score,” and 0% means none of your customers (or those surveyed) are happy with your business. This is another metric to measure the overall impact your feedback-informed changes are having on your brand reputation.

👉Learn more about how you can use CSAT scores in your customer feedback management process. 

Support tickets

Customer support tickets can be a valuable source of feedback, whether it’s email, phone, or chat. This is where customers contact you out of their own accord to solve problems, make requests, or complaints. By categorizing and labeling tickets, you can gain insight into the most popular issues, allowing you to take action accordingly. 

Social media

Social media is a great place to gather unedited feedback on your brand or product. Monitor your branded hashtags and set-up social monitoring to gather social media posts that talk about your brand. 

App reviews

Monitoring app reviews can help you understand the key issues or features that are driving positive or negative feedback. 

Forums and communities

There are places where like minded users gather, and can be a great way to understand sentiment for a particular group of people.

Product reviews

By collecting feedback from product reviews, you can understand what users like, dislike, and wish you offered. Most 5 star reviews will include the former, and 1 star reviews the latter. Looking at middle-of-the-road 3 star reviews, however, can also be a valuable way to find out why customers feel “just okay” about your product and which updates to prioritize.

Tools for collecting customer feedback

There are many online tools that you can use for collecting customer feedback to gain insights. Here are a few common customer feedback management tools

Service Hub

Service Hub is a Hubspot customer service software tool. This tool gathers all your customer data in one customer relationship management (CRM) platform for your customer service team to have at their fingertips. It includes limited data collection features, including a customer portal, omnichannel messaging, live chat, and VoIP calling. It’s a good platform for daily use by your customer-facing teams but less effective at generating overall customer insights.


Servicate is a feedback survey software that allows you to distribute surveys for every stage of the customer journey. Its strengths are in NPS, CSAT, and custom surveys, with a limited number of other software integrations available. Servicate doesn’t include AI or machine learning to help categorize survey data. 


From startups to enterprise, Zendesk offers a comprehensive customer support solution for companies, allowing them to talk with customers via text, mobile, phone, email, live chat, social media and collect feedback at every step. With Zendesk, companies can personalize interactions and automate messaging to solve popular issues faster, as well as customize the tools they need, build knowledge bases, and online communities, and set up AI-driven chat bots. 

Survey Monkey

Survey Money is an online survey platform to create and distribute custom surveys. It’s popular because its free plan is easy-to-use for simple surveys, and the paid plans are affordable for most companies. While it provides excellent individual-survey-level result summaries, it doesn’t incorporate customer feedback from other channels in its results. 

What to do with feedback after collection

Once you’ve collected all your customer feedback, you’ll need to analyze it quickly and accurately to derive insights for improvement. Idiomatic is a sophisticated customer feedback analytics platform, which takes customer feedback from all your data sources and tags, categorizes, and analyzes your data, providing you with actionable insights. You can analyze both qualitative and quantitative feedback on the platform. From this data, you can determine things like:

  • What issues cause the most friction for your customers?
  • Which issues cost you the most conversions?
  • What roadblocks to company growth or customer service goals exist?
  • What quick wins can you share with your product team?

👉Learn more about using Idiomatic as a voice of customer and feedback analysis platform.

Examples of Successful Customer Feedback Management

Many companies are already successfully planning and using customer feedback management processes. Here are four examples of globally-recognized brands with customer feedback strategies that work:

  • FabFitFun: This online subscription box service used Idiomatic as its customer feedback management system and, as a result, saw a 49% decrease in customer complaints and a 250% increase in product satisfaction. By using Idiomatic’s real-time AI categorization of support tickets and customer feedback data, FabFitFun saw a noticeable reduction in manual feedback analysis and can now take action on feedback quickly.  
  • Apple: Have you noticed that the technology company Apple always seems to know what its customers want? That’s because Apple regularly collects customer feedback through sales and help desk conversations, purchases, and even custom surveys based on purchase history or preferences. This has earned its spot as the 6th biggest global brand ranked by customer satisfaction. 
  • Uber: Last time you took an Uber, you were likely asked to rank your satisfaction with your driver. You can give your driver between one to five stars and provide a written review (if you wish). With this real-time feedback, Uber corporate teams can identify potentially problematic drivers and maintain a high-quality service. 

What is the best way to organize customer feedback?

The best way to organize your customer feedback management system is through an AI platform like Idiomatic, eliminating manual data analysis. It can also alert you to potential urgent issues through Slack notifications (such as when you get a flood of complaints about customers being unable to log in because the app crashed and you didn’t know). 

Your organization likely doesn’t have the capacity or time to make sense of massive amounts of unstructured (raw) customer feedback data. With Idiomatic, it’s done for you, and its AI software can read “between the lines” to understand the words that are said in a customer feedback and the meaning or intent behind them. 

Trust your customer feedback analysis to Idiomatic; you’ll see just how much time you can save and how detailed and valuable your customer feedback insights can be. 

👉 Request a demo of Idiomatic to see how it can support your customer feedback loop. 

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