Gathering Feedback From Unengaged Customers, Featuring Brian Tan

Shaun Juncal

Shaun Juncal
Product Marketing at ProductPlan

Unengaged Customer Feedback | ProductPlan

Customer feedback is the lifeblood of customer-centricity. It’s impossible to create and improve products without understanding customers’ experience, especially when customers have unengaged and do not provide feedback. Customers don’t buy or use your products, so they have an opportunity to tell you what they think of them. They’re using it because it helps them get their job done, makes their life easier, or brings them a little joy.

While some customers may be quite vocal, sometimes customers aren’t engaged. Often customers are unwilling to jump on a call or participate in a user forum. But you can’t limit your feedback collection to the customers who are proactively offering it up. You want to avoid a heavily biased view due to the combination of effusive superfan and complaining detractors dominating the conversation.

Instead, to gauge your user base’s temperature, you need to hear from a wide variety of users. That will take a little extra effort. However, a more representative sample will legitimize the feedback you receive. It will paint a truer picture of the user experience.

3 Ways to Gather Feedback from Unengaged Customers

During our “Supercharge Your Product Roadmap with Customer Feedback” webinar, Brian Tran, Director of Product Management at UserTesting, urged product managers to figure out why customers/users are less forthcoming with feedback. He also outlines his suggestions on how to get input from unengaged customers.

1. Lean into the pain points when gathering feedback from unengaged customers.

Brian Tran suggests leveraging tools that allow you to follow up with users immediately. Especially those who just had a bad experience and might unengaged.

“You can grab them at the point when they’re at their highest level of frustration,” Tran said. “And that’s actually the most valuable time when you want to talk to them and get their feedback.”

It’s not always pleasant, but the feedback from these unengaged customers is what you and your team need to hear. When users hit a wall and can’t complete a task, they are at high risk of abandoning your product or decreasing their usage. The wall they hit will provide reduced value in their eyes, which can also impact your ability to monetize the product down the line further.

Offering up a channel for quick, instant feedback at these moments can offer many benefits for product teams. First, you’ll get a sense of which friction points are coming into play most often. These points give you ammunition to prioritize addressing those areas in upcoming product releases.

Second, you’ll get more information about what the specific issue is. Is it a technical problem? Poor communication or messaging? Faulty business logic or process?

Third, you (and your customer support team) will have the opportunity to potentially “rescue” some of these users. You do this by coming to their aid and expressing empathy during their moments of frustration. Instead of finding out the hard way when they quit, and you’re stuck dealing with churn feedback instead.

Be sure to keep these pain-point feedback collection exercises as brief and, well, painless as possible for the user. They’re already unhappy. A 12 question form isn’t likely to generate a high response rate, so try sticking to a brief, focused email template.

First, ask one or two questions to categorize their issue. Then offer an opportunity for them to provide further details and vent if they’d like. You can always follow up later with a call, email, or survey to dive deeper into their concerns.

Read the Customer Interview Tool Box ➜

2. Create an incentive.

Whenever you’re thinking about soliciting unengaged customer feedback, put yourself in their shoes. They already bought your product or downloaded it, or saw your ads. What’s in it for them to spend their precious time making your job easier?

Tran says the trick here is providing a good reason for unengaged customers to spend some of their time giving feedback. Most value rewards.

Whether it’s cash, a gift card, an exclusive experience, or even a discount on your product if these folks are getting this “for free.” They’re more likely to give you the time than if you asked them nicely.

However, it would help if you made it clear that even though you’re compensating them for their efforts, you still want them to be brutally honest with you regarding their product experience.

To avoid any “quid pro quo” scenarios, Tran emphasizes that how you frame things can make a massive difference in the accuracy and transparency of the responses you’ll receive. Be very upfront that you want to hear honest feedback, regardless of how unpleasant it might be.

Remind them that your goal is to improve the product, not solicit compliments. If they tell you what’s problematic for them, there’s a better chance that they’ll have a superior experience themselves in the future. So, it’s in their best interests as well to take part and be truthful.

3. Find alternative strategies for collecting feedback from unengaged customers feedback.

When a customer isn’t open to participating in a feedback session despite the lure of a reward, it’s time to get creative. You can offer alternative feedback methods, such as surveys since they’re asynchronous.

Another tactic is inviting customers to participate in a customer advisory board. Participating in an advisory board will give them a sense of ownership and a stake in the process, far beyond a one-off call or meeting.

You can always leverage existing relationships the customer may already have with other folks at your company. Try to find which salespeople or account managers they’ve established a good rapport with and piggyback on those interactions.

This rapport could get you an “in” with a customer that has otherwise frozen you out. Alternatively, you could have the colleague they’re close to asking your questions on your behalf.

Put It All to Work

After all that effort to extract tidbits from unengaged customers, you certainly don’t want to let the feedback all go to waste. Ensure you’ve already set up a practical framework for capturing, organizing, and evaluating customer feedback and putting it to good use during this process.

Additionally, it’s always a huge plus to follow up with customers that offered up their opinions and experience and let them know when something they asked for or complained about has been addressed in the product. You can even recruit them to be a beta user if they’re so inclined. Make them more open to future feedback sessions and maybe even get them to provide it proactively.

Read the Customer Interview Tool Box

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