One of the most important elements of product marketing is getting feedback from customers.
Getting feedback and seeing which customers would advocate for us took time and energy, but these testimonials are invaluable to demonstrate our success with real customers. As we look to scale our business, we also need a solution to scale our outreach to get actionable customer feedback.
Our old process involved working with our internal teams to identify five to 10 top customers, and reaching out to get feedback on a one-to-one basis: an approach that simply wouldn't scale as the business grew. It also meant we were only getting feedback from a handful of our accounts that were top of mind, while we could potentially be missing great customer stories from people who were happy with Hireology, but maybe weren’t actively communicating this to us.
Automation to the Rescue
My goal was to design a way to survey all of our customers at key customer milestones, deciding on three, six and 12 month check-ins. After exploring a few formats, I settled on a simple email that would be sent to customers asking for them to complete a quick customer survey.
Each survey would ask different questions depending on the milestone for each customer group. For those falling into the three month group who may have recently onboarded, we focus on why they selected us, if they were using a solution previously, and what features they may use the most. The six and 12 month check-ins would focus on more in-depth questions as users became more familiar with our platform.
Each survey was between three to six questions and all of them included a section to collect their contact details and how comfortable they'd be to provide a testimonial for our marketing efforts (fully, anonymously, not at all).
For solution providers, we built a quick Hubspot email that linked to a survey developed in Google Forms. We chose Hubspot because it's currently powering our email efforts and is very customizable in design, personalization and email automation.
We caught up with our existing customer database by segmenting customers who fell within these three, six and 12 month windows. Overall, our response rate was very high across all groups with open rates around 30% and clickthrough rates around 5%. Each response was collected in a Google sheet as it came in.
Google Forms is a great platform for surveys that offer output into a Google Spreadsheet for further automation and scripting abilities. Hireology also uses Google Apps to power most of our collaboration tools, making this a no-brainier. While there aren’t as many formatting options for the actual survey compared to other platforms, Google Forms offered enough customization and data collection to suit our needs well.
Each survey had a few different multiple choice and short answer questions that were collected into separate spreadsheets for each milestone.
Our survey responses appear right in the spreadsheet. I’m using FormMule to send an email to the responses as soon as a new survey is completed. This is optional, but saves on the need to keep checking the form, and it supports rich HTML email formatting and offers more flexibility beyond Google’s stock notification options. FormMule is a script that’s always looking for a new spreadsheet row to be created with new survey data. As soon as it is, it’ll trigger an email to be sent to me along with the responses. I can also copy my customer support team, should follow-up be needed based on the customer’s responses.
Another challenging part of the testimonial process has been getting permission to share the great feedback we’ve received from customers. Instead of manually sending a separate email to make sure we had permission to share their response, I baked this into the survey itself. This let our customers authorize us to attribute their feedback to them directly, leave feedback anonymously or have us keep their responses for internal use only. This quickly communicated their comfort level without the need for a separate request email.
After finishing outreach to our existing CRM, I also setup a Hubspot workflow that will automatically email new customer accounts added to Salesforce as soon as they fulfilled our milestone dates. After being automatically added to a new SmartList, customers would automatically receive their first survey after 90 days, and a quick follow-up seven days after if they don’t open the email on the first send. This continues for our six and 12 month check-ins, as well as automates all of the testimonial collection efforts.
Results so far
We’ve been using the new system for a few weeks and have already collected over 100 high-caliber testimonials that our customers volunteered for us to share with others on our website and marketing materials. We also heard from a few accounts that were having trouble and chose to let us know in the survey - a touchpoint they may not have otherwise opened up to. It also let us reach 100% of our current customer base: something we could have only accomplished with automation.
Beyond the initial responses, this has saved me a considerable amount of time for scheduling calls, check-ins and email replies. We’re able to ask the right questions to our entire customer base with making a minimal impact to our operations as well as saving our customers’ time by allowing them to provide feedback in a quick survey format.
Have you also made use of automation tools to survey your customer base? What were the results?
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