Blog Customer FeedbackQualitative vs Quantitative Feedback: Which Should You Collect?

Qualitative vs Quantitative Feedback: Which Should You Collect?

Which is better for your business, qualitative or quantitative feedback? The only good answer is: both. We explain why.

Customer Feedback
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Qualitative vs quantitative feedback comparison and guide.

Collecting feedback is like exercising: we all know it’s beneficial for us and that we should do it. But how do you even get started? And what’s the best way to go about it? In the case of feedback, there is a fork in the road: qualitative or quantitative feedback?

Wondering which one you should prioritize? Today, we break down the differences and similarities and help you decide which type of customer feedback is the best for your business. 🤔

What is qualitative feedback?

Qualitative feedback is descriptive feedback containing your customers’ subjective thoughts and feelings about your products, services, and overall business. Qualitative feedback, such as customer interviews, shows you how customers feel about your business at length.

For example, you may have a 1:1 conversation with a customer to reveal their experience with your customer service.

Pros: provides broader, richer insights compared to quantitative feedback, personalized and flexible, encourages reflection and critical thinking

Cons: more difficult to measure and compare; requires extensive time and money to collect, analyze, and extract the most useful feedback

What is quantitative feedback?

Quantitative feedback is the kind of feedback you can measure. For example, an NPS or CSAT survey score on a scale from 1 to 10. The aim of quantitative feedback is to get quick insights and make key decisions based on those insights.

For example, you launch a new feature in your product and run a CES (customer effort score) survey to determine how easy or difficult it is to use. If the CES score is too high, you need to make radical changes to the user and customer experience.

Pros: quicker and easier to collect; gives instant valuable insights, more objective and precise, easy to scale

Cons: does not have the depth of qualitative feedback, there is a lack of context, can lead to misinterpretation

How to collect qualitative feedback

If you prefer getting descriptive, actionable insights from your customers, you’ll want to collect qualitative feedback. While getting started with these qualitative insights can feel overwhelming, there are many methods and formats to choose from. Even if you’re a complete beginner, there are qualitative methods that can work for you.

1. Customer interviews

This is by far the best method to collect qualitative feedback from real people. One-on-one (or one-to-many) user interviews allow you to ask your customers as many main and follow-up questions as you want. They are very time-consuming but provide the most detailed and insightful feedback when done right.

User interviews can be:

  • Structured (with strict sets of questions)
  • Semi-structured (with some questions, but allow for flexibility) 
  • Unstructured (free form with open-ended responses, allowing you to come up with questions on the spot)

Since they can take quite a bit of time, make sure to reserve interviews for only the most valuable customers or the target audience with the most interesting comments and feedback.

While they can yield the most in-depth feedback and stories of personal experience, there are a few things you should be aware of. Qualitative analysis can be lengthy and complex, and you may need to offer something to the customer in exchange for their time.

P.S. Kill two birds with one stone and use these interviews to build testimonials.

2. Focus groups

A focus group is a set of your most valuable customers by some criterion. For example, the highest account value, the longest time being a customer, or similar. By putting them in one place (physically or virtually), you can get a deeper understanding of how customers perceive your product/service/features, etc.

In sessions led by a moderator, focus group participants can share their nuanced insights about pricing, features, competitor analysis, positioning and more. Once again, this feedback collection strategy demands plenty of time, so carefully consider your desired goals and outcomes.

P.S. You can also look into customer advisory boards

3. Open-ended survey questions

Modern survey tools come in many formats that you can try out. Besides the most common ones (CSAT, NPS, CES, etc.), you can also run open-ended surveys. Simply ask a number of questions and give your customers the space to share their subjective insights.

Compared to other qualitative feedback methods, these surveys can be pretty easy to administer to a large audience during different customer interactions. On the other hand, feedback analysis takes considerably more time compared to standard survey types.

Customer satisfaction surveys in Featurebase.
Example of surveys in Featurebase.

4. Feedback forms

Feedback platforms such as Featurebase allow you to add feedback forms directly on your website or in your app to get qualitative responses. You can ask open-ended questions about your product, which is where in-app feedback forms really shine.

Featurebase's embeddable feedback widget.
Embeddable feedback widget

They are versatile and can be used in a number of applications. And with a tool like Featurebase, you can use AI to sort feedback into topics. This can save considerable time with qualitative feedback analysis and management.

5. Online reviews and social media

People will share their thoughts about you on other platforms, such as social media, blogs, and websites. For example, in the software world, ratings and customer reviews from platforms like G2 and Capterra are very important. If you’re in hospitality, comments on Yelp will be highly relevant.

Product Hunt review on Featurebase

The same goes for social media, articles, videos, and other content formats. There is a world of information out there, and revealing it all can be very difficult.

A good way to save time is to use social listening tools such as Hootsuite or Prowly. Just load up your most important keywords, and you'll get real-time notifications every time someone mentions your brand. With new AI features, these tools can also sort mentions according to sentiment.

This allows you to make more informed decisions and stay in the loop if a crisis is looming. You’ll also get a comprehensive understanding of how customers talk about you, helping you inform future sales and marketing campaigns.

How to collect quantitative feedback

Unlike qualitative feedback, the quantitative type is easy to run and share among your customers. With the right customer feedback tools, you can send out feedback forms to thousands of users and get the results almost instantly. These are some of the formats for quantitative analysis that you should consider.

1. Feedback portal

With a tool such as Featurebase, you can let your customers voice their opinions, no matter where they are. Your website, app, or email—take your pick. Customers can then vote on each other's ideas so you can get a better picture of what to prioritize.

Featurebase's public feedback portal.
Public feedback portal.

Here, you can analyze the entries with AI and organize the feedback based on topics. You can also prioritize based on customer revenue because not every feedback is equal. For example, you can put a higher value on feedback entries and survey results from customers with a higher lifetime value.

2. Surveys and questionnaires

If you haven’t created one yourself, you’ve still probably participated in countless surveys and questionnaires.

Modern survey tools come with templates that allow you to create a survey in seconds. Simply choose what you want the survey for and then distribute it using your preferred channel. This feedback type lets you collect a high number of individual responses and yields a high response rate since it is so easy to complete.

In-app survey created with Featurebase
In-app survey created with Featurebase

Examples include:

  • CSAT (customer satisfaction score)
  • NPS (Net Promoter Score)
  • CES (Customer Effort Score)
  • Product feedback
  • Event
  • Market research
  • And others

Most of these have standard formats that you can adapt to your needs and use cases. The best part is that you can capture quantitative insights and set some key metrics for user satisfaction. For example, an NPS score is one key metric that you can track and compare over time to get a complete picture of your progress.

Once you’ve created a survey, it’s time to distribute it.

Common channels include email, website, SMS, social media, in-app, push notifications, and others.

You can distribute through one or multiple formats, depending on where your customers spend time the most. For example, having in-app surveys for your product can help get great quantitative metrics without disrupting the user experience.

3. Polls

Simpler than surveys and easy to conduct, polls are excellent when you want to make a quick decision. Don’t know which font is better for a dashboard? Wondering which product name your audience loves better? Just run a poll.

This is a great format for situations when you have narrowed down your top choices and just need a quick count of your customers' votes. You don’t want a deep dive, just a quick understanding of customer needs and desires.

Say you use Featurebase to collect feedback, as shown in the feedback portal section. You can transform some of the most popular ideas into a poll and ask your users which one they would like to see first, for example. 👇

Feature idea poll in Featurebase.
Feature idea poll in Featurebase.

4. Website analytics

There is a plethora of free and paid tools that can show you what customers do on your website or within your product. The most notable example is Google Analytics, a free app that can show you crucial website metrics. Where users are coming from, which actions they are taking, which pages are their last before they bounce from a website, and more.

For more detailed insights, you can use qualitative feedback apps such as Hotjar or Microsoft Clarity. This product can record individual sessions from your website visitors and feedback users, helping you identify bottlenecks in your UX. There are also heatmaps of your website and visualizations where more “heat” means higher visitor activity.

Microsoft Clarity's dashboard.
Microsoft Clarity

Which type of feedback should you collect?

The choice depends on your overall goals. If your aim is to get quick feedback to make critical decisions about your product or service, quantitative feedback is the better choice. If you want to collect deep insights into how your customers perceive your offer, qualitative feedback is the better choice.

If you’re serious about using customer feedback to meet your business goals, the only correct choice is to collect both types of feedback to gain a holistic understanding of how customers perceive you. 

By combining qualitative and quantitative feedback, you get the best of both worlds: measurable outputs and rich insights you can learn from.

Start collecting feedback today with Featurebase

There is no such thing as the best feedback method or channel. No matter what type of service or product you sell, collecting all types of feedback can help you crush your business goals and provide better customer satisfaction.

Featurebase is a great starting point - it lets you collect in-app feedback, run surveys, prioritize ideas by customer revenue, and much more.

The onboarding is amazingly quick, and it comes with a Free plan, so there's no downside to trying it.

Start collecting & managing customer feedback with Featurebase for free →