How to approach customer unsolicited feedback

Customer Experience

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Are you afraid of receiving unsolicited feedback from your customers? When you can’t control the feedback question or response format, you may worry about the kinds of answers you’ll get and how to review and analyze the results to get meaningful, complete results. 

In many ways, unsolicited feedback can provide you with deeper or more specific insights you can’t get from the feedback you specifically ask for. It’s how customer-centric companies learn what they don’t already know about their customer’s experience.

In this article, we’ll define unsolicited feedback, why it’s important for your business, and how to approach unsolicited customer feedback in the most effective data-driven way. 

What is unsolicited feedback?

Unsolicited feedback is input that comes from prospects, current customers, and past customers you didn’t explicitly ask for. This could include customer comments on social media, informal conversations, chat transcripts, or unprompted emails. 

Data from unsolicited feedback is often more reliable and honest than most forms of solicited customer feedback, which is limited in scope and potentially biased based on how you frame the questions and distribute the survey. Unsolicited advice and feedback from your customer may even prompt you to send a solicited survey to more customers to see how universal their feedback is.

What is the difference between solicited and unsolicited feedback?

As we mentioned, unsolicited feedback is advice you didn’t ask for. Solicited feedback is where you explicitly ask customers or users to provide you with their thoughts or opinions, usually about a specific issue or event. Both sources of feedback provide your team with valuable consumer insights, but here’s examples of how they differ:

Unsolicited Feedback

Solicited Feedback

How it’s received Not asked for Explicitly asked for
Topics Could be any topic. Company doesn’t have control over what feedback is received. Focused topics. Company can ask about a specific event or topic, or ask for more general feedback.
Reliability More reliable. Customers share what’s on their mind, rather than being “forced” to provide feedback on something they don’t have a strong opinion about. More prone to bias due to how the feedback is solicited or collected. (Solicited Feedback is still an important part of customer-centric strategies).
Data Collection Effort  Low effort to collect as customer conversations are always happening with and around your business. Higher effort as you need to plan, design, and distribute surveys. Data is limited by the duration and scope of the solicited feedback channel or campaign.
Effort of Analysis  High, due to the vast amounts of unstructured data available Low-medium, depending on complexity of solicited feedback source
Example Data Sources
  • Customer chat transcripts
  • Social media posts
  • Review sites
  • Customer feedback surveys
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys 
  • Focus Groups


👉Learn more about these and other sources of consumer insights.

What are the benefits of unsolicited feedback?

There are many benefits to including unsolicited feedback in your voice of customer feedback strategies. These benefits include:

Unbiased advice

You’re leading the respondents’ answers when you specifically ask for feedback, even with well-written questions. With unsolicited feedback from more conversational sources (like help desk transcripts), you hear what’s on their mind in their own words. This organic way of learning about your customers is unbiased compared to formal feedback collection sources and is often more open-ended, detailed, and honest. 

Higher potential to learn something new about your customers

When you receive unbiased, unsolicited advice from customers, you may learn something new that you never considered before. It could identify new sources of frustration or joy you never knew before. 

You collect customer insights without survey-overwhelm

Surveys (one type of solicited feedback) are a great way to learn about your customers and their opinions towards specific interactions, customer journey  events, conversations, or your offerings and brand. However, surveying them after every interaction or event can be draining, and you’ll notice survey response rates drop over time. 

One challenge of collecting unsolicited feedback is that  unstructured data that comes from unsolicited feedback can be messy and difficult to analyze effectively. That’s why many businesses avoid it in favor of solicited feedback sources.  However, there are tools to solve this challenge.

To get the best insights from unsolicited, unstructured  data use a feedback analysis software like Idiomatic to categorize and summarize your data. Idiomatic takes  unsolicited feedback from all your data sources and categorizes it to determine trends and issues in real-time, allowing you to easily and quickly make sense of messy feedback data. 

👉 Learn more about using Idiomatic’s AI-driven customer feedback analysis software to analyze mountains of customer feedback data, fast.

Why do people give unsolicited feedback?

When customers feel passionate about their opinion, they’ll often share it with you in the hopes you fix it. When they offer advice or feedback, they are either:

  • Extremely satisfied – showing you where they have positive experiences in their customer journey. 
  • Extremely dissatisfied – showing you where they are struggling so you know where to improve. 

How to respond to unsolicited feedback

As a business, responding to unsolicited feedback helps the customer feel heard. Actually  acting on their feedback shows your customers and the world that you’re truly customer-focused and care about their experience with your brand.

How you respond will differ depending on the sources of the unsolicited advice and what actions you choose to take to address the customer’s struggle. Here are some common ways you may choose to respond to unsolicited feedback:

Commit to listening and action

Before you can handle unsolicited advice, you must commit to listening to this feedback and developing an action plan for which issues you’ll address or deal with. Your customer support team needs to formalize a process for collecting unsolicited feedback and managing it promptly through one of the other methods mentioned in this section. 

👉Only 31% of customers feel that companies are likely to act on feedback. Here’s how to make sure your company actually listens. 

Be responsive and engaged

Your customers will be less inclined to provide unsolicited feedback if they don’t think you’re listening or taking action on customer feedback. One easy way to show engagement is to actively respond to social media posts and review websites. 

When someone provides a comment, observation, or feedback regarding your brand or offerings, have support team members ready to respond as soon as possible. This will show your customers that you’re not just a faceless company; you have real humans responding and interacting with customers. 

Solicit for more feedback

Through unsolicited feedback, you may uncover insights you want to know more about. Reach out to the individual if you can to ask for more details so you can resolve the problem. If you can’t reach out to the advice giver (such as in anonymous posts), consider sending a targeted survey to a select group of customers to see if they share the same sentiment or opinion. This will give you a better understanding of if the issue is a one-off or a bigger problem that affects a more significant part of your customer base and should be dealt with. 

Integrate solicited and unsolicited feedback in your strategies

Both solicited and unsolicited feedback are equally valuable for your business. Be sure to include both forms of feedback in your voice of customer strategy for the most detailed picture of customer satisfaction. 

Your feedback strategy should include a feedback loop. In a feedback loop, you solicit (or receive) feedback, analyze it for trends, act on the feedback recommendations, then re-solicit (or look for) feedback to see if your changes worked. This loop repeats until the negative customer feedback is no longer a problem for your customers. 

How to solicit feedback

You could contact the original advice giver if you want more information based on unsolicited feedback. If that’s not possible, you can solicit more feedback from your audience and customers through other forms of feedback. This process should be included in your customer feedback strategy.

What is an example of actively solicited customer feedback?

Here’s an example of soliciting feedback based on unsolicited feedback. 

A company monitors social media and notices many customers complain about their checkout process. They’re using words like “it’s not intuitive” or “it’s super buggy” but not providing details about what aspects they’re struggling with. 

Based on this, the company publicly comments on their posts, asking for clarification. They don’t get the details they need, so the company surveys a larger portion of their customers for the details they need. 

The company creates a short satisfaction survey shown to customers on the order confirmation page. After running the survey for a few weeks, they noticed that many customers weren’t noticing which contact fields were required. Based on this insight, they work with their web team to clarify which checkout fields are mandatory. 

How to use machine learning to understand unsolicited customer feedback

Technology is your friend when collecting and helping analyze unsolicited feedback. Companies who manually review unsolicited feedback often don’t have the resources to do it thoroughly to derive the key themes and insights. There’s just too much unstructured data for the human brain to review, categorize, and analyze with a good lens. 

That’s why using technology can help. Use a customer feedback tool like Idiomatic to pull data from your solicited and unsolicited feedback and categorize it. Idiomatic uses machine learning to uncover meaningful customer insights from unstructured data and present them in easily understood actions for your team. 

A no-obligation demo of Idiomatic will show you how effective and easy analyzing unsolicited feedback with machine learning can be. 

Request demo today.