Understanding your customers is an ongoing challenge.
But it’s required if you want to build a better product that actually produces profits.
Each individual department in your company most likely thinks they know it all.
We’re all guilty of it. We think we know our customers inside and out.
But that’s simply not true.
Each team brings different strengths and knowledge to the table when it comes to understanding what that customer wants.
When you only rely on one team, you’re missing out on key insight for growth.
Feedback. You need a way to keep everyone involved in the process.
Here’s why internal team feedback is paramount for developing a better product.
Why You Need Sales and Customer Service in Alignment
Sales and customer service departments both work toward the same end goal — making customers happy.
But in most organizations, neither department is used as effectively as they could be.
Many executives fail to see how these teams work together, and because of that, they often fail to properly align teams to improve customer satisfaction.
According to HubSpot’s State of Inbound Marketing Report, 31% of executives feel that their sales and customer service departments are aligned.
But only 17% of managers agree with this assessment.
This means that the majority of managers find that sales and customer service aren’t working together in a productive way.
The problem with this is that sales reps are often missing key information about the customer that only the customer service teams know.
Sales should be spending the most time with the customer, but in most cases, they’re stuck doing administrative tasks finding data rather than talking to customers directly.
The sales team should be in charge of influencing purchase decisions, listening to customer feedback, and fixing problems. They know the customer.
But customer service teams know the data.
For example, 61% of people reportedly abandon e-commerce shopping carts because of extra costs, like shipping, taxes, and so on.
That simple insight can help you make instant changes to how you treat shipping and taxes and increase conversions almost overnight.
The customer service team knows this.
If your customer service sector isn’t sharing internal data to sales and marketing, however, you will continue to lose shoppers.
Without alignment, both teams aren’t being effective in making the customer happy.
Hubspot’s data also reflects this, as it found that when marketing and sales are in alignment, companies tend to perform better overall (and management agrees).
The effect of an aligned team is productivity.
But to ensure that alignment happens, you need feedback between sales and customer service.
Internal Feedback Loops are the Key to Success
The more data shared between departments, the more successful each will be.
But the key to this is communication.
Unless there is daily communication between sales, marketing, customer service — and with actual customers — there will never be complete alignment or productivity.
Take segmentation, for example.
Segmenting your email messaging can yield 100.95% higher click-through rates for segmented campaigns versus normal campaigns.
But what’s the best way to segment your email lists? Which department would know?
Segmentation requires communication between all departments to segment users into groups based on their reception to marketing, offers, and their user experience.
This means all departments need access to segmentation and customer data.
Departments should be sharing data like customer lifetime value, cost per acquisition, and overall sales figures.
When decisions aren’t made based on solid data, success rates are reduced.
One study by Harvard Business Review found that success for most organizations was reduced by 20% when data and analytics were not used effectively.
Comparatively, when data was used effectively, benefits increased company-wide.
The best way to share data and analytics internally?
Create an internal (“employee”) feedback loop.
How to Create an Internal Feedback Loop
Similar to the customer feedback loop, the internal feedback loop works to gather, share and proactively integrate data across departments.
There are typically 3-4 steps to the loop:
- Input — Feedback is gathered from all departments.
- Process — Feedback is sent to the appropriate leaders of each department to be evaluated.
- Output — Feedback is sent out (often through multiple outputs) to be implemented.
- Feedback — The loop is closed by reporting the success (or failure) of implemented strategies. The loop may then begin again.
To make the feedback loop work, it’s best to automate certain steps of the process, like gathering feedback or generating reports.
Here’s a look at how the process breaks down.
1. Gather feedback data from each department
The first step is to gather relevant data from each department.
Because customer service is talking to your customers every day about things like pain points, bugs, feature suggestions and so on, it’s important to get that feedback from the team.
This might include customer feedback surveys or interviews.
If you’re using Google Forms to gather customer surveys, for example, you can create a Zap that pairs it with your CRM.
This way both the sales and customer service team have access to customer data that might help them.
Something like a centralized customer metric dashboard can provide funnel analysis for both departments.
This can help the customer service team see which products are selling well, which ones work the best for which customers, and when to recommend specific products.
Because both teams are such an incredible source of knowledge, it’s important to get them talking.
These tools act almost as private social networks to help employees collaborate across departments.
You can segregate relevant information, connect on important topics via text threads, and reduce noise with text threads about relevant data.
Communication apps work well for sharing data with specific people or teams, which can cut down on unnecessary time waste.
In short, when your team is communicating, things will work better.
Some important metrics to gather include things like:
- Total revenue
- Revenue by product or product line
- Revenue by market
- Percentage of revenue from new business and existing customers
- Year-over-year growth
- Customer Lifetime Value and/or Average Lifetime Value (ALV)
- Competitive data (deals lost to competitors, etc.)
Customer service should also share data about customer complaints and product reviews.
2. Evaluate the data for opportunities
The next step is the “process” stage.
This is where you analyze your data to make changes that affect both the product and the customer.
You need a way for each department to measure the data they’ve been given and see what’s already happening to fix or change certain issues.
For example, if customer survey reports indicate that a common bug in the product is decreasing customer satisfaction, they need to know about it.
More so, they need to work with the team in charge of fixing the bug so they know what’s being done to fix the problem. The sales team needs this information, too.
This is where a digital whiteboard tool like Mural might come in handy.
It allows designers to post notes, images or videos that can express changes or gather additional feedback on a design or prototype.
The sales or customer service team can then evaluate this data for use when prospecting or helping customer resolve issues.
Other documentation and testing tools can help teams share metrics as well as assess data.
They can also be used for things like A/B testing.
Both departments can find insights with a hypothesis spreadsheet using Google Sheets, for example.
This allows teams to collaboratively assess A/B testing data to see if there are common factors that could be influencing customers to buy or not buy.
Both tools can easily integrate with other project management tools (using Zapier).
For instance, Trello can be used to manage feature requests.
When combining these tools (Google Sheets, Trello, etc.), you can create a single system or “river” for feedback to flow between departments.
This creates a systematized process where feedback can easily flow back and forth.
You want this level of productivity because the next step in the process will be the implementation of that feedback.
It’s essential for teams to work together to know where to find data before they decide what to do with it.
3. Implement feedback in each department
Studies show that you will only hear from about 4% of your customers. But that’s OK.
The remaining data you gather, such as revenue reports or customer lifetime value, should fill in the missing gaps.
At this point in the feedback loop, you should start to see where changes can be made.
You should be able to respond to negative feedback (make customers happier, fix bugs, etc.), or boost positive data (increase revenue, etc.).
So how do you implement the feedback you’ve been given to see those results?
First, data should be shared with the product team, customer service team and sales team (which you should have covered in the first two steps).
Then, it all goes back to more segmentation.
Actions should be split into a few key categories:
- Short-term quick wins
- More time-consuming or difficult improvements
- Long-term wins and structural changes
Each department (product, customer service and sales) should know what those actions mean for them.
For the sales team, a quick win might include adding more industry-specific keywords to the website so customers can find specific sales-oriented landing pages, for example.
A long-term win might be the creation of a comprehensive SEO strategy that better supports organic search.
On the other side, customer service quick wins might include adding an automated customer service tool like HappyFox to add customer support tickets.
Or they might want to create an entire online help desk, which would take more time and effort but ultimately serve the customer better.
It’s up to the team to decide the steps based on the data they’ve received and analyzed.
If actionable steps are unclear, more communication will need to happen across departments until decisions can be made (they don’t call it a loop for nothing).
This is where a tool like Slack can come in handy for live chats about implementation.
During the implementation (or output) step, it’s important that key data gets into the hands of decision-makers.
While it’s helpful for departments to have access to data, choices will need to be made about product changes, timelines, and other decisions that affect the outcome.
Communication at this stage is vital so that all necessary product improvements can be made.
Then, when changes have been implemented, the loop can be closed.
This means responding to the customer to let them know that their feedback was put into action.
If more feedback comes in from the customer on the new changes, the loop begins all over again until the product is perfected.
The product improvement process is continuous.
It requires all departments working together to ensure that customers are being heard.
But more so, it requires sales and customer service departments to collaborate to make sure what’s heard turns into actionable results.
The best way to do this is by creating an internal feedback loop between teams.
This ensures that the data coming in from sales can help customer service manage customer expectations.
It also means that data from customer service can be used by sales to attract more and better customers.
The only way for it all to work is through collaboration and communication.
By creating a successful feedback loop, all parties can work to make a better product and, ultimately, a better and more successful organization.