Branding Management 101: Using Consumer Feedback to Improve the Customer Experience

consumer feedback

Today’s customer experience is a 24/7, 365 day-a-year challenge. Brands and stores can’t just focus on taking care of customers M-F, 9 -5. Today, customers expect an awesome experience anytime they choose to interact with your business – whether you’re open or not. Whether it’s on mobile, desktop, social media, email, or online chat, there are a number of digital touch points that need to be properly managed. Lucky for you, you don’t have to blindly guess whether you’re meeting your customer’s experiential needs. Your customers have a voice and they’re not afraid to use it. That voice is called consumer feedback and you can leverage the feedback of a few choice customers to improve your brand experience for all your clientele.

Top 4 Customer Experience Factors

Rarely is a positive customer experience the result of a single governing factor; instead, it’s a combination of different aspects of their customer journey. When reviewing your consumer feedback, pay attention to which of these factors lead to positive or negative experiences.

Timeliness: Customers expect to have their questions answered quickly and their expectations met in a reasonable time. Long waits or ignored messaging will negatively impact their experience with your brand.

Attitude: Customers want to be treated with courtesy and respect. Rude staff can ruin your customer’s experience with your brand.

Smooth Purchase: Customers want a frustration-free purchasing experience. If your online shopping cart keeps breaking or your credit card machines keep going down, this will negatively impact their experience.

Dependability: Customers want to know that you care about them as a consumer even after they’ve purchased from you. This means that if something breaks, honor your warranty. You can also proactively reach out to follow up on how they enjoyed their purchase.

Where to Find Consumer Feedback

Online Reviews

Did you know that simply one negative review online can cost you up to 30 new customers?

A review is a good or bad comment on a consumer’s experience with your brand, product, service, employees, or store. A review is typically left online on a major platform like Yelp, Facebook, Google, Amazon, or Twitter. However, reviews can often be spread via word of mouth to family and friends.

Here’s another stat for you to consider while monitoring your reviews: only 1 in 10 customers leave a positive (happy) review. Most individuals leaving a review are doing so because of a negative experience (uninitiated as it may be) they had with your brand. Which is why it’s so important to take any feedback from your advocates and learn from it swiftly. Doing so can help to keep future negative reviews from piling on.

How to Deal with Negative Reviews

Whether it’s B2B or B2C, at some point every brand will come face to face with a negative review. Here are some pointers for dealing with these negative online reviews:

Do Not:

  • DO NOT get angry
  • DO NOT blame the customer
  • DO NOT deny


  • DO respond to every negative review (and positive review too)
  • DO express empathy for their negative feelings
  • DO provide insight into factors that may have affected their experience
  • DO let them know you’ve taken their feedback and adjusted your practices accordingly
  • DO invite them to come back and return as a customer

Social Comments

As we mentioned above, your negative and positive reviews don’t always get placed in threads, forums, or on platforms that make it easy for you to review. Between Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Reddit, Yelp, Youtube, and Tumblr (and that’s just barely scratching the surface), there are a host of different places online that good or bad comments can end up.

About 1.7 billion people have an active social media channel, which means it’s imperative that you use some sort of listening tool to track and monitor your online comments. Even if you never interact with the comments, it’s essential that you know exactly what people are saying. Good or bad, these comments can help you improve on bad habits and expand on great services and products.

In addition to being able to utilize these comments for future purposes, some of these complaints can be addressed immediately as you come across negative reviews using the tips outlined above.

Offering your best customers gift cards, free or discounted services or even a public apology can have immense benefits to both your brand’s reputation and your relationship between you and your individual consumer(s).

Get a Handle on Social Comments

It can be scary to think that customers could be trying to interact with brands that have no idea those conversations even exist! As we stated above, non-timely responses can have a huge impact on the customer experience.

As such, it’s important for brands to develop a social listening strategy to look for and address these online comments. Here’s how to start:

  1. Take an audit of all your social media platforms. Even if you’re not regularly posting to a platform, if you’re on it, people assume you’re monitoring it.
  2. Assign a team member to check each platform daily (at a minimum).
  3. Invest in tools that actively listen for you and alert you when a new comment/message is left on any of your social platforms.

Host Online Focus Groups

In the past, focus groups used to be in-person and they were super private. But, with the Internet, you can now host focus groups just about anywhere. With a simple hashtag, you can invite your most loyal fans to have a chat with you about your brand. The most commonly used platform for an online “focus group” is Twitter.

A live Twitter chat is an opportunity to discuss a certain topic with hundreds, thousands or even hundreds of thousands of your social followers. You will act as the moderator, posing various questions, and answering any questions your advocates might have for you. You can create a specific hashtag for advocates to organize their questions and to follow along during the focus group. Not only can you collect an impressive amount of information from this type of event but you get a unique opportunity to interact directly with your fans.

Many brands also turn to Reddit and their AMA (ask me anything) subreddit to solicit consumer feedback from a broad audience. In an AMA, Reddit users have the opportunity to ask your brand questions as your respond in real time during a specific time period.

Both options are a great way to ask your advocates directly what they like, what they hate, and what they want to see changed. It gives you an opportunity to explain why some rules and regulations are in place, when new products will be out, and also have some genuine fun with your fans.

Solicit Consumer Feedback from Your Biggest Fans and Advocates

Public focus groups are useful but can sometimes pull in distracting feedback from individuals that aren’t direct customers of your brand. This is why, at SocialToaster, we recommend that your brand also garner consumer feedback directly from your biggest fans and advocates.

Whether you’re a brick-and-mortar store, restaurant, or online boutique, there’s a plethora of opportunities for your brand to directly solicit feedback from your audience including:

  1. 1-to-1 after purchase emails
  2. Broad surveys to all your advocates
  3. Asking the net promoter score question on all communications (“
  4. Private polls

When soliciting for consumer feedback, it’s important that you guide the conversation with your consumer. Don’t ask broad, generalizing questions. Instead, lead them to provide specific feedback on areas that directly affect the client experience.

Example questions:

  • Is there anything we can do to make the check-out experience easier?
  • How would you rate us at responding to your questions or comments?
  • If we could improve one aspect of your specific customer experience, what would it be?

Use Your Advocates to Gather Customer Feedback

In addition to sharing your latest and greatest marketing content with their friends and family, advocates in your brand’s advocacy marketing program can also be tapped for consumer feedback on a regular basis. Our SocialToaster clients regularly use our platform’s built-in survey and polling functionality to solicit mountains of feedback from their advocates including:

  • Insight into the customer buying experience
  • New product ideas
  • Demographic targeting information
  • Content feedback and new content requests

Applying Solutions from Negative Consumer Feedback

You’ve done the legwork. Whether it’s combing through online comments and reviews or soliciting feedback directly from your customers, you’ve got your collection of feedback points.

Feedback like:

“customer service takes too long to respond”

“the store is dirty”

“no one ever responds to my emails”

“I was on hold for over thirty minutes”

These are all general complaints almost every brand has experienced. However, only a few brands have been able to make lasting changes to address these negative feedback points. Simply telling your employees to do a better job isn’t going to solve these problems. Employees leave, forget, or get bogged down with other “more important” tasks.

To fix these complaints you need to dig deep. Look at the current systems in place (not the individual) that lead to this negative experience. Then make a systemic change. This may require extra training, updating training manuals, updating technology, or even reassessing what the customer experience means to your employees at every level of the company.

Remember, not every negative experience is chronicled on an online platform. For every negative experience found on Yelp, there may be dozens of customers with similarly poor experiences that didn’t even bother to write the review. They just stopped being your customer.

A happy customer is a buying customer. Keep your customers happy by recognizing negative reviews and feedback for what they are, an opportunity to improve the brand experience for all of your customers.

Find Out What People Are Saying About Us

SocialToaster is an advocacy marketing platform that brands of all sizes love. From increasing brand awareness to generating content engagement and driving sales, we have an advocacy marketing program that fits your needs. What makes our program so successful? We understand how important your customers are to you. We know that they’re more than just customers, they’re your best fans.

If you’re ready to get started with your own advocacy marketing program or want to learn more, one of our advocacy strategists can help. Working with you every step of the way our strategists can help you launch your program. Send us an email or call us at 855.62.TOAST to get your free demo of the SocialToaster platform today!

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