Gathering quality feedback and closing the loop is essential to any company that cares about the constant improvement of its products and meeting customer satisfaction.
In fact, if created mindfully and carefully, feedback can become a valuable tool that will be a vector for favorable changes for a business. You can't always tell what customers think from your interaction with them. Asking for users’ opinions is important because by doing so, you can reduce customer churn.
Statistics show that only one of 26 unhappy customers complain; the rest leave. You should understand that the absence of feedback doesn’t always stand for customer satisfaction; sometimes it can lead to negative results. With the help of a feedback forum, you can easily stay in touch with your customers and improve the communications.
What is a feedback forum?
Feedback forums are an online communication platform where users engage with each other to share their ideas, start discussions, post feature requests, ask questions, provide answers, report issues, give votes, and comment on the ideas of other users. Usually, these conversations are related to products, services, or processes within a company. Let’s explore specific components of a feedback forum and what they’re used for.
Part of self-service
If speaking about customer experience, feedback forums can also serve as a self-service platform where customers find answers to their questions and solutions to their problems without having to contact support. By answering questions through a feedback forum, the company gradually creates a knowledge base for further self-service as all conversations are transparent and duplicate questions will be eliminated.
Beyond regular support
Not only a company can gather user ideas with a feedback forum but also offer customer support if there are any questions or issues. Customers like to share their experiences and help each other. At a certain stage, you'll be able to cut the number of questions asked by allowing your customers to participate in open discussions. This doesn’t mean that the feedback forum is intended to replace a call to your help desk representatives, but it can be a great asset for support. Generally speaking, feedback forums are a place where communication and collaboration lead to product, service, and process improvement.
Who can benefit from using a feedback forum?
Feedback forums can be a valuable source of innovation for any type of company. It gives important insights from which the team can learn what features users want to see most and what difficulties they meet. These conversations are a worthy source of knowledge regarding feature requests and using the existing features differently. Customers help each other, the company reduces its support costs and improves the service. It is always a win-win situation.
Commercial, nonprofit and government organizations, financial and IT companies, colleges and universities, small start-ups and large enterprises can all benefit from open conversations on a feedback forum.
It can be a powerful long-term asset for a company to strengthen its products or services and give their users incentive to communicate with each other, post their ideas and suggestions to improve their products or services. But some companies actually implement feedback forums with other purposes in mind. This can be done to stand out their brand with a better social experience, increasing sales with customer-driven content, or crowdsourcing more innovation opportunities.
Feedback forums vs. feedback platforms
When it comes to differentiating feedback forums and feedback platforms, there can be some confusion. Both the feedback portal and feedback forum are developed to offer online discussion platforms for users to engage, discuss ideas, ask or answer questions and get support from each other. However, general similarities stop here.
While the forum is usually created for online text communications, behind the feedback platforms stands a much broader meaning. A feedback platform has a much broader functionality, and besides forums, it also includes knowledge bases, product development roadmaps, task management systems, and can be integrated with other software such as CRM, marketing tools, and support or self-service instruments.
Feedback forum is technically a website with specific functionality that allows users to start and participate in online conversations. Below are the most common structural parts of a product feedback forum.
This part is designed to collect ideas and requests on what features users want to see most in products or services. The crowd begins to share their ideas, and others comment on them and leave votes for the ones they like most. This way you get a pool of useful insights on what direction you should be going further and get a source for creating a user-driven product development roadmap. Many experts agree that work of the crowd can generate more valuable ideas than hiring a team of consultants would.
Bug reporting/issue tracking
Not always things work as expected and with the help of feedback forum, a company can create a simple issue tracking system for users to report about the things that didn’t work well.
Besides feature requests and bug tracking, users can ask general questions, like “how to” and others. The knowledge base with the most popular questions is created organically as all the communications are transparent and all the questions are accumulated in one single place.
This can take some time, but once the content is ready, support will be able to save lots of resources answering the same questions over and over again. Meanwhile, a company can also post a question it’s been struggling with to take into consideration the opinions of their customers.
Using success stories on your website can be an easy way of turning customers into promoters by giving them a convenient way to tell what they like about the products or what they like most about a particular feature. The customers always have something to say, and you can go an extra mile by providing them with such an opportunity.
5 tips on how you can get more quality feedback on your forum
If you decide to use the advantages of feedback forum for your community, let us give you some practical tips on how to better get started with it in order to get maximum results:
For communication to happen you need to configure the feedback forum to your processes of data collection and processing and socialize the link. A community should be accessed easily and have several entry points.
Empower content and allow anonymity
Think about what information your customers would need, generate some ideas with your team, create some general questions your customers might have and start by posting some ideas on your own, give incentives, send out newsletters with the most popular ideas or ideas gaining popularity. Monitor how this basic content performs, analyze what customers are searching for, and add more as you learn.
Additionally, consider allowing anonymous ideas and commenting; doing this can boost the number of incoming ideas immensely.
Involve the team
For a consistent feedback loop, you should keep your employees engaged at every stage of gathering and deploying feedback. This not only means creating a closed internal community where your team members can brainstorm ideas and build product development roadmaps but also you should involve employees to participate in user community to be on the same page with your customers and hear their voice.
Reward for contributions
Showing recognition for feedback forum contributions is a way to build a strong user community around your company. To recognize active users think of creating a reward program. This can be either public or private recognition, but it should always take place. There are lots of ways to encourage and inspire a collaborative community, but it mostly depends on a company’s attitude and approach.
It’s all about the customer. If you put the customer at the core of your business, you’re already one step closer to success. This is exactly why businesses are looking into customer feedback tools as an online meeting place for their customers to engage with each other for improved customer experience.
Want to get started earning more customer feedback? Learn how to create a customer profile to get started.
Anna Kuzma is Marketing Manager at UseResponse, a software company specializing in the development of customer feedback and support software. In her free time, she enjoys traveling and practicing professional children's photography.