Daniel is the CEO and Co-Founder of WARP, a tech-powered freight network specializing in middle-mile solutions.
One of the biggest mistakes companies continue to make today is thinking their service or product is a one-size-fits-all solution. In fact, I find that it’s a persistent problem in my industry.
As a team of entrepreneurs and leaders with deep experience in our industry, my company is looking to change that, but we can’t do it without the help of our customers. So, every single day we’re asking them, “What can we do better? How can we make your life easier?” And then we’re taking that feedback and incorporating it into the technology.
Customer feedback is integral to providing a product that your audience wants to use. Most startups are on a mission to modernize an industry that is no longer functioning at a high enough standard to keep up with how the world has evolved. All startups should be thinking of their customers as key partners in their journey to innovate. Developing a product or service that eliminates a customer’s pain points is a key element that should be driving your business forward.
Meeting customers’ needs: It’s old-school thinking to brush off customer feedback thinking that you’re the expert and your client should just let you do your job. In fact, customer feedback can provide a goldmine of valuable insights that helps you develop a better product or service. Your clients are a captive audience and can help you understand your target market’s pain points, preferences and expectations. By incorporating customer feedback into product updates, you can fine-tune your offerings to better align with customer needs.
Building loyalty: Like many businesses, my company aims to grow with our customers. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: We only make money if we can optimize our clients’ businesses. And I’ve found that if you take the time to build a customized solution for one of your clients based on their feedback, they’re more likely to stick around. You want to be the provider your clients turn to when they need a solution like yours because they know you genuinely care about their success. Their success is your success.
Edging out competition: The faster you can build customer feedback into your service and product, the faster you can outpace competitors. Fast innovation cycles are vital to keeping up with rapidly changing market dynamics, and being able to quickly adapt and iterate is crucial. By incorporating customer feedback into product updates, you can respond swiftly to changing trends, consumer preferences and emerging technologies.
Reducing risk and cost: I know that every time a customer signs on with my company, they’re taking a risk. We are a startup after all. But we’re also a team of industry veterans who have learned what works and what doesn’t. By taking the time to listen to our customers and then actively incorporating their feedback, we’re minimizing the risk of building a solution that misses the mark. A customer-centric approach can help you avoid costly mistakes and ensures resources are invested in developing features or functionalities customers truly value.
Driving innovation and growth: Fast innovation cycles enable you to experiment, learn and evolve rapidly. By embracing a culture of continuous improvement based on customer feedback, you’re fostering an environment that encourages innovation and creativity. Furthermore, incorporating customer feedback helps you identify unmet needs or pain points that can lead to the creation of new products or services, driving organic growth and expansion.
In conclusion, incorporating customer feedback into the product or service should be an important aspect to every company, not just startups. And while it might seem nerve-wracking at first to open up your company to constructive criticism, the payoff will be well worth it. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
1. Set up a monthly phone or video customer review guided by five to 10 questions (that your customer can read through in advance) to talk through their feedback live. I suggest holding this feedback session over the phone instead of collecting written answers. It’s easier to discern tone and frustration over the phone or a video call, and since your customers are busy, the last thing you want is them rushing through a survey with just yes/no answers and no further feedback.
2. Work directly with your product team to find easy ways to incorporate feedback that might be a low-hanging fruit. And, put together a full strategy for incorporating feedback that might require a pilot to test success.
3. Be open-minded. You might not hear what you want to hear, but be gracious for the feedback if delivered in a constructive way, and assure your customers that your ultimate goal is to help them succeed.
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