To beat your business Goliaths, let a feedback loop be your slingshot

David did not use his strength to defeat Goliath. Rather, the scrappy kid of Old Testament lore used his wit and skill. Be like David. 

If you’re the underdog in your market, reaching out regularly to your customers, targets – or even your own employees – for feedback is arguably the smartest and easiest way to take down your competition. A good feedback loop is like a slingshot that adjusts your aim and gives you power by validating the things you already thought were true, and even glean new insight.  

What’s that? You already speak to your customers regularly? You already track your Net Promoter Score? Terrific. But consider the following steps to enhance your learnings. The ongoing lockdown might even help you reach your target audience. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Focus on Outcomes

To determine the right feedback-gathering approach, think in terms of outcomes. What outcome or action do you want to be able to take from the specific question that you are asking? An outcome-based approach will also keep you focused on a single objective. Think of it as a North Star.

For example, if you want to know how you can focus your marketing message, you may not need a survey: Just try out two or three different approaches on different types of customers (known as “A-B testing”). But if you want to know how to prioritize releases of new features, you may conclude you need more clarity on your customers’ workflow and the “pain points” they encounter where your offerings can help. 

Solicit feedback in the form of responses to pointed questions. Whether they are current clients or prospects, you’ll either be surprised at what they have to say, or your assumptions will be validated.

  1. Capture Everything

Take what your customer or prospect is saying and transcribe it, word-for-word, into your database. Who said what, where and when?  

Don’t be surprised to see themes arise. This is what the exercise is all about. Qualitative data is powerful because it provides incredibly useful context. At dPrism, we employ categorization tools as we review the data to help with the analysis phase. 

  1. Analyze 

Now it’s time to sort, slice and dice the data to yield insights. What’s the data telling you now? What is it not telling you? You probably asked quantitative questions as well: Cross reference your responses to that data. And remember to reference your initial outcomes. For maximum effectiveness, you’ll want someone with experience doing this bit. 

  1. Apply

Your analysis has likely validated some of your assumptions, and probably also told you things you didn’t know. You can now apply your learning to your outcome areas. Part of the beauty of this process is that it can go in many directions. 

You can now prioritize your product roadmap or help your sales and marketing teams better understand what your customers or prospects are thinking. Build new personas to more seamlessly onboard new hires or help your development team get a holistic view of their users. Armed with your data and analyses, you can learn what new next questions to ask and improve your product, marketing, sales and support in iterations, creating a virtuous feedback loop.

Even more interesting, you may have uncovered business opportunities, in the form of under-served areas for your products or services. In other words, you’ve identified “white space,” or the delta between where you sit the market and where your competition is. You can find more information on this type of  “outside-in” thinking in this posting by dPrism’s CEO, Adriaan Bouten. 

Information = Power

Collecting and combining qualitative and quantitative research data is an incredibly powerful tool. When leveraged the right way, it has the potential to not only inform tactical decisions, but also adjust an organization’s overall direction. With this kind of information, you will be equipped to hit your proverbial Goliath objectives right between the eyes. 

At dPrism, we partner with our clients in this exercise and use this process to inform decision-making at the highest level. 

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