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Product Management

Your Mobile Feedback Funnel is Broken – Here’s How to Fix It

Madeleine Wilson  //  June 9, 2020  //  11 min read

Coronavirus didn’t break your mobile feedback funnel; it revealed it was broken all along. In this presentation originally delivered at Mobile Growth Summit, Apptentive’s CEO and Co-founder, Robi Ganguly, dives into exactly how companies can use feedback to predict churn and extend customer lifetime value. He reveals where your funnel has failed in the past and key strategies to improve it for the future.


Hi there. My name is Robi Ganguly and I am the CEO and co-founder of Apptentive. Apptentive is a nine-year-old company that works with large consumer brands, companies like Viacom, and Starbucks, and The Economist, and Disney, and hundreds of others to collect customer feedback to give a voice to their customers. In particular, we do this on mobile, which is why I’m here at the Mobile Growth Summit talking about this. And over the next 10 to 12 minutes, I’m going to talk about how you in the mobile teams around the world can really fix a big problem around what we think of is the feedback funnel. And in doing that, you will accelerate your business because you will understand more about your customers around the right moments to communicate with them, around the opportunities for up-sell and increasing loyalty and decreasing churn.

So, let’s get into it. One thing I want you to have on your mind as we’re going through this is are you aware of or thinking about the ways in which your company collects feedback today? Is it a 1-800 number, is it Twitter, is it email an address, what is it? Like, think about all of the ways that companies collect feedback and then think about specifically how your company collects feedback because that’s gonna be important to framing today’s conversation.

So let’s talk about funnels. Right, I brought my handy little funnel here, my wife let me take this because I’m gonna start…no, I’m not gonna draw on that. This is just a prop. Actually, what I wanna talk about with funnels is the fact that there are funnels in lots of pieces of the business that we’re familiar with, we’re conversing it. So, for example, sales funnels. Sales funnels are measured by what? A sale ultimately, but it’s got a whole set of processes. You start out with some set of people who are interested or leads, and then you have conversations with them, maybe automated trials, and there’s follow-up, and there’s a step along the way that leads to conversion, and finally that transaction. So we really converse it and know about this in sales.

We also know about this in marketing. And like sales, marketing is often trying to drive something in particular, often it’s a sale, but maybe it’s just that next action. And it starts again at the top of the funnel with awareness, and then people express interest, and they consider what you’re offering. And they evaluate it, and then maybe they make a decision and they take an action or they purchase it. And marketing often expands the funnel to the next set of steps, which is how do you get them to do it multiple times? How loyal are they? Can they become advocates? But again, this marketing funnel, we’re very conversant we understand it.

And even in the area of product we have a funnel. Because it starts out with a whole slew of ideas, things you could be building, services you could be offering to your customers. And then it goes through a process of discovering what’s possible, how big it is, how expensive it might be to develop, and testing it and seeing if it really works and then meets the market. And finally, launching that product is kind of the end state, at least the first gate of really concluding that funnel is to get something out into the marketplace.

So we have funnels in multiple pieces of our business. And when we at Apptentive think about this, one of the things that we see consistently for a lot of businesses, unfortunately, is that what’s missing from these funnels are the humans involved in them, the people. Like when we talk about leads, we’re ultimately talking about another person or a team on the other end. And many of these funnels do not have a good enough feedback loop from customers to tell you if your marketing is doing the right job, if your salespeople are actually universally really accommodating customer’s needs and asking the right question.

And in particular, we at Apptentive know that product teams struggle with collecting feedback. And then when they collect feedback from more of their customers, they can accelerate product development. For nine years, we’ve been servicing hundreds of companies and in particular working with the product and the marketing teams on how to bring that voice to the customer into their work, how to iterate, how to prioritize the roadmap, how to make sure that they’re solving the biggest pain points from the right customers.

And when that voice is missing, you slow down because there are so many guesses. And when that voice is present, you speed up because you get so much feedback and your loop accelerates. And what we’re going to be talking about today is the results of us powering feedback to over a billion consumers over the course of 2019. The stats that we’re gonna be talking about, and some of the things that we know are true and can be accomplished, are really predicated on the fact that we work with hundreds of companies. And in those situations, we’re able to power feedback from over a billion customers. So that’s where the data is coming from today.

And when we think about these funnels, there’s consistently one measure that a lot of these funnels really talk about, and it’s the conversion rate. We hear about conversion rates in particular in marketing sales a lot, but we also think about it in really sophisticated product organizations. And so, this conversion rate conversation drives a lot of behavior to try and increase the conversion rate. It drives an alignment around the organization to increase the conversion rate. But when we get to feedback, when we think about feedback, do we talk about conversion rates? Do we talk about what percentage of people are actually giving you feedback? No, by and large, we do not talk about feedback in that way. We do not talk about the conversion rate. And as a result, our organizations are not as well aligned as they could be around giving customers a voice.

I want you to take that question about which channels do you use for feedback? What does your company do? And to think about it through the lens of, “Okay, if that’s really making a funnel, does it look like this? Is it a linear funnel?” No, actually, what we find that most companies is it’s not linear, it’s actually just a representative of channels. Because in other traditional funnels, we think about progression down this funnel, people moving throughout. But in the feedback arena, App Store reviews are often measured and managed by a different team. Perhaps the mobile team, perhaps the marketing team, then help desk email which might be over in Customer Care. And it’s different from social media which might be sitting in an entirely dedicated social media team, it could be in Customer Care, it could be in marketing, we’ve seen it in all different sorts of ways. And then we’ve got 1-800 number that sits over here, and is also utilized by senior customers, but managed by somebody else.

So, sometimes when we talk about the feedback funnel, when we think about this, just the fact that these are actually channels, as opposed to components of a funnel, is the aha moment for organizations to realize, “Oh, maybe we are not thinking about this problem the right way.” And another problem that people run into is we talked about the top of the funnel on marketing, and we talked about awareness, and we talked about the overall audience, we talked about expanding it. Well, the feedback funnel for your company, the top of it is every customer you have. Fundamentally, every customer you have is an opportunity to collect feedback.

And then the funnel narrows from there. So when we think about this, and we look at the ways in which you’re collecting feedback, one of the challenges that shows up is if you take App Store reviews, Help Desk, email, social media responses, and then the people who choose to call your 1-800 number and unfortunately, maybe wait 10, 15 minutes, some of whom drop off, the percentage of customers that actually get feedback through all of these different channels in most large consumer brands is less than 1 percent.

So when we’re thinking about this feedback funnel, and I say it’s broken, what I’m really saying to you is, if you were to look at the feedback funnel, and then look at the conversion rate, and then try to maximize that conversion rate, the same way that you do in sales, or in marketing, or in product, you would come to a different set of conclusions about how you should be thinking about this problem. You would say, “Wow, we are less than one percent. This is pretty awful.” So that’s the first thing that’s really broken. We’re not looking at this the right way. We’re not starting at the top of the funnel with our customers. And these channels are not really actually a piece of the funnel, it’s cooperating.

Another way of thinking about this is the vast majority of your customers are silent. They’re not talking to you on a regular basis. Who you’re hearing from are a vocal minority either who are having a really bad experience or those who are having a great experience of evangelisms. And the opportunity by changing your feedback funnel, to thinking about conversion rate, to maximize it, is to take more and more of those people who are silent and to give them a voice. To ensure that more and more of your customers are actually helping you understand what’s going on, what’s great, what’s not great.

Silent Majority

This is a really powerful concept. In visual manners, we’ve helped lots of companies understand this problem. But the thing is, we also know that it’s not just theoretical. So I was telling you that we’ve collected a lot of data over the course of the past nine years of business. In 2018 alone, we powered conversations, and communication, and feedback from over a billion consumers. And what we’ve seen is that 1 percent conversion rate, it’s not theoretically bad. It’s actually bad. Because when customers get proactive and reach out to their end consumers and they start conversations with the intent to just hear from more people, when they start their strategy through the intent of increasing the customer feedback conversion rate, you can get to a point where one out of four customers is actually interacting and giving you feedback.

So we’re talking about oftentimes 20, 50, sometimes 100 times more feedback as a result of getting proactive and getting in front of these customers. And what happens when you’re able to get in front of a lot of customers? Well, you learn some things that you’re doing are wrong. A lot of you are probably using NPS. When we think about the way in which we collect feedback, we know that a lot of companies say, “Hey, CSAT and NPS those are core metrics.” Well, today’s standard of a good score is typically between 40 and 50. But that’s because today’s standard is not a realistic measure from a large percent of the customers. In fact, today’s standard is oftentimes from an end of 1000 to 2000 customers, which is way below one percent for a large consumer brand.

So if you’re measuring your NPS, you say you’re 40 to 50, but you’re only asking that question of 1000 or 2000 people. No wonder your results might be skewed. And the people who are likely to answer it are actually probably more likely to say “We have favorable opinions.” In contrast, over the last year in 2019, we saw that between the two operating systems, so being really mobile focused for you, iOS has an average NPS of 28. Android has an average NPS of 21. This is much more realistic because we’ve got tens of millions of consumers answering these questions across lots of different industries. So when you get to more people, you get better data.

And mobile is really important because it can fix this funnel really quickly. It’s personalized, right? It’s really important, we think, for you to collect data at the individual level from your customers. To collect that feedback and to tie it to an end customer. And in mobile, that’s natural. Identity and your phone are linked. And so, as a result, you can track that customer and understand, “Hey, this is Robi. He’s been a Starbucks customer for three years. Five months ago he said he loved the app. Two months ago he said he loved the app. Last week when he tried to do mobile order and pay it didn’t work and he didn’t love it.” You can track that from me and you can track it over time. Mobile is a really, really valuable in thinking about how to solve this problem, get more of your customer’s different voices.

And what we know out of this is when you start doing this, your customers’ feelings do change. And I wanna highlight the bottom half of this, what we’re talking about here is the first measure for a lot of customers with us is, “Do you love this app experience brand?” Sixty-percent of people say yes. But over the course of last year, one out of 20 customers changed their mind. They were fans at one point. They might have been fans multiple points. But then the last interaction we had with them said that they’re a risk. One out of 20 customers’ opinions are changing. And then conversely, one out of 25 customers’ opinions are changing in a positive way. Being able to track at the customer level over time allows you this kind of information and gets you in front of places where you might have churn.

This means that if you get proactive, you can have daily insights. Your entire customer organization, the people who care about what’s going on could see daily, “Hey, what’s the shifting to fan? What’s the shifting to risk? Where am I vulnerable? What can we understand?” This is one of the outputs. But let’s get a little bit deeper. How do one of our customers take this kind of insight and opening up the feedback funnel to analyze their business? A large, quick service retailer that we’ve worked with for a number of years was looking at this data, again, on a daily basis. And what they were seeing at the top level was, “Oh, 2600 people shifted their opinions. Of those 900 shifted to risk. Well, we had more shifting in fan than we did risk. That’s great. We feel good about that.” But they spent a lot more time looking at the bottom half of this, the 903 people who shifted to risk were really intriguing. And the more they looked at it, and the more they mapped it against their historical data, the more they came to the conclusion that this curve looked like another curve that they had just with a time delay.

And this curve was churn customers. What they were seeing was that by getting proactive, getting in front of more customers, giving more of them voice asking questions, they’re actually predicting churn a couple of weeks in advance of when it happened. Which then because they’d heard from the customer, gave them an opportunity to recapture that customer. So when I think about one of the biggest ways in which you can light up more of your customers, giving them a voice, and then drive business results, it’s just this, getting in front of churn is super meaningful. And at a time like now, when people are making a lot less purchase decisions, they’re conserving capital, you wanna be really clear if you are changing experience in a way that drives a customer away from you. By being more proactive, and listening to more customers, you can prevent that churn, and you could potentially even turn it into an upsell if you make them happy.

Now, the reason this is really important that we’re talking about this with the Mobile Growth Summit team, is this is all in pursuit of your teams, your companies getting more customer-centric, surrounding them with the ability to listen and understand their experiences essential. And mobile, more than anything else we’ve ever come across, is risk to your customer all the time. That means even if they’re conducting their purchase in person when they go to your store, they’ve got their phone with them. But increasingly on their couch, while they’re on the bus, when they’re in commute, they’re making purchase decisions, research decisions along the way. And so, each and every one of you in the audience has an opportunity to fix the feedback funnel, not just for your team, but for the company.

Because what we’ve seen is that you have the opportunity to touch physical touchpoints, digital touchpoints, meld them together and attach identity to it. And this is how you’re gonna help your teams, your companies grow faster by really fixing this feedback funnel, getting more proactive. Now, what can you do today? Actions. You can start by proactively gathering feedback. You can start in your mobile apps, on your mobile websites, on your websites in general. Really quickly getting out in front of customers and understand what’s going on.

The second thing you can do is reach out and learn more and ask questions. So we’ve got some people here who can dig into this in further detail, happy to answer them, tell you some of the best practices. And if you wanna partner with us, we’ve done this with hundreds of companies, we’re here and happy to help. But at the very least, we can tell you some of the best practices to get forward.

So thank you again for spending a few minutes with team Apptentive and talking about your mobile feedback funnel and the overall company feedback funnel. You sit in a very important spot where you can take your company to the future and give a lot more of your customers, more than 1 percent of them a voice. And in so doing, help your business grow faster. Thanks.

About Madeleine Wilson

Madeleine Wilson is the Content Marketing Manager for Apptentive. No stranger to B2B tech, Madeleine enjoys translating complex concepts into easy-to-digest pieces of content.
View all posts by Madeleine Wilson >

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