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Most Brands Hear from Less Than 1% of Their Customers

Ashley Sefferman  //  January 17, 2019  //  4 min read

Customers are hard-pressed to leave feedback in any form, and the way digital customer feedback is gathered is often clunky, time-consuming, and distracting from the goal the customer came to accomplish in the first place.

Because many brands struggle to gather customer feedback in proactive, non-intrusive ways, feedback typically comes from the smallest, most vocal group of customers. Many brands today may think they build products around their customers based on feedback from a majority, but they couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, our data shows that brands only hear from less than 1% of their customer base, which we call the “vocal minority.”

The Vocal Minority of Customer Feedback

The vocal minority is made of up of two groups of customers: those who are at risk, and those who are VIPs. The at-risk customers have typically had a negative experience with your brand that triggered their feedback—their meal was bad, their flight was delayed, or they ran into an irritating bug in your app. They’ve raised their proverbial hands to alert you of their problem, whether it’s a one-off occurrence or affecting a larger group of your customers. The VIP group’s experience is just the opposite. These are your all-star, loyal customers—the ones who engage in every email, refer you to their friends, interact with you through other digital channels, and who purchase your goods and/or services regularly.

There is much to learn from the vocal minority of at-risk and VIP customers. The vocal minority has a lot to say, and product professionals and marketers must listen to the group’s feedback and respond to it (and act on it!) accordingly. But remember, the vocal minority makes up ~1% of the average brand’s customer base. The most dangerous decision a brand can make is acting on feedback that doesn’t accurately represent the majority of its customers.

To hear from more of your customer base and collect meaningful decision-driving information, what’s a brand to do? You must shift your priorities and the way you ask for feedback to unlock the “silent majority” of your customers.

The Silent Majority of Customer Feedback

The silent majority is made up of roughly 99% of your customers who don’t fall into the vocal minority. These customers span across a broad spectrum of sentiment, but they tend to fall somewhere in the middle of loving your brand and being at risk for churn. The vast majority of your customers fall into the silent majority, and typically, their feedback and loyalty aren’t being fostered or prioritized.

Your next step is crossing the hurdle of getting the silent majority to provide feedback. Fortunately, customers expect you to ask them for feedback directly. Our research shows 51% of consumers expect companies to ask for their feedback across all channels (email, phone, in-store, online, in-app), and that number is even higher for consumers who prefer to leave in-app feedback (64%). What’s even better is that app customers are very willing to give feedback: 98% of our respondents said they will likely give feedback when asked. The key is to be proactive in asking for their feedback rather than waiting for them to raise their hands, and to ask at the right moment within your digital experience in order to give conversations the best opportunity to begin.

Through proactive engagement and creating customer feedback loops, Apptentive has helped our customers boost engagement to 23%, reaching over 20 times more consumers than the conventional rate. In turn, our customers are able to be more dollar efficient, can better prioritize product planning, and can expand their loyal segment of customers through listening and responding.

Apptentive Helps Unlock the Silent Majority of Customer Feedback

Ultimately, the main takeaway is to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to customer feedback. There are ways to tap into the 99% of customers you aren’t currently hearing from, rather than waiting for feedback from the 1% of at-risk and VIP customers who come to you.

If you’re not proactively asking for feedback, you’re leaving an opportunity on the table to keep your finger on the pulse of your app customers, improve customer happiness, and boost your bottom line. There is endless untapped potential in prioritizing customer feedback from your silent majority, but you must be strategic in your approach to collect it.

Of course, Apptentive would love to help you bridge the gap in your feedback, but we want to understand your needs to see where we can be of service, even if it means pointing you in a different direction. Get in touch to let us help, or leave your thoughts in the comments below for us to get a conversation going.

Happy customer feedback gathering!

About Ashley Sefferman

Ashley Sefferman is Head of Content at Apptentive. A digital communication and content strategy enthusiast, she writes about multichannel engagement strategies, customer communication, and making the digital world a better place for people. Follow Ashley on Twitter at @ashseff.
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